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The Woodcutter of Rashomon!

By Amin Boroumand

Rashomon narrates, from four perspectives, the story of a murder and a rape. Kurosawa's masterpiece depicts how distortion of memory and play of imagination lead to divergent narratives of the same event. Sasan Fayazmanesh's speciously simplified characterization of MKO in his article "The Good Terrorists?" posted on Counterpunch website is one of such narratives. On the one hand, with all the publicities surrounded the fate of MKO in Iraq, Mr. Fayazmanesh itches to contribute to this fashionable narrative, no matter how banal or simplistic, and on the other hand, his intellectual retardation does not allow him to deal fair-mindedly with nuances, good and bad, of a political reality. In his "script", our narrator, gives an "impartial" account of the degeneration of a radical guerilla movement into a cult group led by a "deranged individual". Unfortunately his claim of impartiality remains just that, a claim. His semblance of reality, full of distortion and self-indulging imagination, needs editing. The central load-bearing beam of this semblance is his pathological hatred of MKO, and its current utilization is the charges of terrorism: materials are re-arranged to lend themselves to the new usage.

At one level, Mr. Fayazmanesh suppresses any piece of information that might spur the reader to question or doubt to endorse the characterization offered by him. It is not important that the current leadership of MKO and overwhelming majority of its rank and file were in prison during the period that a splinter group (that eventually left MKO) carried out the assassination of American expatriates in Iran. It is just not very becoming to the narrator that MKO did not "join the Iranian revolution on the side of the Islamic forces", but rather was "instrumental" in causing the very same revolution that was hijacked by the "Islamic forces". It is politically too messy to remember that people who took American diplomats hostage are now the leaders of the so-called reformist faction in the Islamic regime; and that they did so to retard the growth of the leftist political platform. Let's, for the sake of dispensing with tedium, skim over the process of "falling-out" between MKO and the Islamic regime in order to arrive, with minimum distraction, at today's "reality"; analyzing, even fleetingly, the nature of this fall-out might run the risk of portraying MKO in a more positive light. It is irrelevant history that, as the largest and most organized political movement that emerged after the Shah's overthrow, MKO led the struggle, albeit unsuccessfully, against the emergence of a virulent theocracy. Let's not bother ourselves with the numerous speeches made by its "deranged" leader that reminded masses of the cornerstone of the revolution, freedom. Let's submit to the pages of dust-collecting books the high political price paid by MKO for its principle-informed decision not to vote for the Islamic regime's constitution; the "deranged" leader forewarned the onset of religious dictatorship in the wake of implementing such constitution.

Mr Fayazmanesh's "script' is broad in its scope. His level of knowledge and academic stature confer enough credibility and confidence on him to deal with the malaise of MKO at multiple levels. He impugns the not "well-defined" ideology of MKO and identifies it as the root-cause of the group's demise. To be sure, MKO has been accused by Shah and Mullahs of having an "eclectic" ideology, whatever that means, but never of not having a "well-defined" ideology. A brief consideration of MKO publications, however, belies this assertion: the group has written volumes to define its ideology and at times stretches itself thin, sometimes ridiculously thin, to show how its ideology informed its politics.

Mr. Fayazmanesh's narrative is built on two fault lines. The first one runs along the line that equates the welfare of Iranian people with that of the Islamic regime. Within this formulation, then, any attack on the regime is read as an attack against the motherland. In this Orwellian Animal Farm fighting against the Islamic regime's oppressive apparatus, that rewards the slightest gesture of dissent with torture and imprisonment, is called terrorism and the belligerent war-mongering policy of the Islamic regime is portrayed as patriotic. The second fault line is to take as point of departure for his analysis the characterization of MKO by the U.S. State Department. Such characterizations, more often than not, arise from the political exigency of the day and are therefore very transitory. For instance, a secret and fruitful meeting with Islamic regime's diplomats might compel State Department to recast MKO as a terrorist organization.

All in all, the issue that I take with Mr. Fayazmanesh is his urge to write. Is this narrative supposed to be a political discourse that aims to analyze a dominant force in Iran's recent political history? Or is it an indulgent commentary that is written to let out some fume? Certainly MKO, like all other political groups that lived in turbulent and unforgiving time, has made political decisions that need to be criticized. The more dominant a political reality, the more colorful the spectrum of the criticism. But such criticism should be informed and measured. I think Mr. Fayazmanesh's contribution to MKO bashing gushes from a zealous political agenda, and suffers from lack of insightful understanding of his subject; he compensates by resorting to charges that have ad nauseam adorned websites in the past few weeks. Like the woodcutter of Rashomon, Mr. Fayazmanesh offers a narrative that is "impartially" distorted and uncorroborated. He contents himself with bombastic slogans gleaned from shallow pieces of writings that are a dime a dozen. The objective, however, is deep-seated: our Associate Professor is hounding for blood. Nothing less than the obliteration of MKO slakes the thirst of this vampire.

About the author:
Amin Boroumand lives in the Bay Area.

Related articles:

Islamic Republic, Ardent Supporter of Terrorism - By Amin Boroumand

"Cease-fire Hurts U.S. Stance on Terror" -By Sanam Vakil

Truce is wounding diplomatic efforts, US officials say - Boston Globe

US has no better friend than Iran!: What to do with the MKO cult? - By Ali Moayedian

... Payvand News - 5/16/03 ... --

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