To avoid a potential misinterpretation of my personal views or a misunderstanding of my position regarding the currents of sociopolitical affairs in the Islamic Republic of Iran, I would like to begin by clarifying the fog that has been hanging over my articles and lectures during the past two-dozen years.
I am not and have never been and do not intend to be an apologist for the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly the internal policies that regulate the social affairs of the nation to the degree that it does. At the same time, residing rather comfortably here in Southern California and not being an actual resident of Iran, I find it rather presumptuous to allow myself to sit in judgment as to how the people of Iran, the great majority of whom are of post-Revolution age, should live their lives. They may not, and are not obligated to, share in my views and preferences that are the products of my principally Western oriented habits and cultural orientation as a seventy-some years old former Iranian.
This is the reason why, when confronted with the expressions of outrage, for example, by the Iranian women's rights activists as to the dress code restrictions, I cannot help but wonder whose freedom is it that is being violated, and to what degree. In a nation of over 75,000,000 people, more than one-half women, how many women aspire to dress more freely or even provocatively as they do in Western societies? Or, what percentage of the population would actually approve of non-restricted dress policy altogether?
Another related question: When, I don't remember which city,
perhaps it was
Similarly, we do not look favorably for women in
Personally, I wouldn't have any problem with women dressing as they please, including covered from head to toe, walking around topless or even stark naked. I, then, would exercise my freedom of choice as to which ones I'd look at and which I would avoid! For some peculiar reason, however, I wouldn't like to have my wife, daughters or sisters to dress too provocatively.
I am also having a problem with those, especially among our younger Iranians, who believe showing their fellow Iranians' taste and affinity for the Western trends in dress code, makeup or social demeanor is a sign of cultural progress, rather than as an expression of envy or worse, as what children or underlings do when begging for acceptance by their "superiors". I wonder why they do not realize that out-smoking, out-drinking, out-rapping, out-rock-and-rolling and mimicking their Western counterparts simply make them appear more culturally immature and traditionally lacking.
That is so reminiscent of those days of our ill-perceived Royal glory, when annual art festivals were held near Shiraz, where the most outrageously avansgarde or bizarre Western "art" was staged for the benefit of the highly exclusive invited audiences of pretentious, pseudo aristocrats in front of bewildered ordinary folks, those "other" Iranians, the disregarded 98 percent, who were rightfully wondering what the hell was going on.
Those were the days when the uppity new-rich celebrated the Western New Years' Eve (more "fashionable" then than even the traditional Nowrooz), at the Sheraton Hotel, which they pronounced "Shrayton" to sound more "foreign", while sipping rare twenty-year-old Scotch whisky mixed with "Kooka", or expensive Dom Perignon blended with imported orange juice.
I suppose I am just too damned old fashioned to understand and appreciate the "mod-ren" ways!
Don't get me wrong; I am not a religious person at all, even though I respect and understand all religions and, in fact, conduct lectures in comparative religion without being biased toward any faith of my own and, consequently, condescending toward others.
My views of matters of faith and religion are reflected and elaborated in my book, Necessary Illusion; Looking Through the Kaleidoscope of Existence. I think the title of the book tells it all.
I believe that faith in some supernatural overarching concept was an unavoidable byproduct of human intellect, without which mankind's cultural evolution would have taken a completely different course, perhaps toward an early demise in its infancy.
As far as freedoms of expression and exchange of ideas are concerned, I am all for such liberal freedoms, as long as such rights do not transgress against the unwary and are not aimed at overt or subliminal indoctrination of the less well-equipped masses.
Just look at the mass media right here in the
The consensus among the American public is that Iran is, in fact, the number-one state sponsor of international terrorism, that the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas are terrorist organizations, that Iran is intent on making atomic bombs, that Ahmadinejad is a crazed zealot who intends to destroy Israel, attack Europe and America and establish a global Shi'a Caliphate with himself standing alongside the Mahdi! Many of the same folks believe that the real Messiah is none other than George W. Bush; hah!
The only debate, then, is about what might be the best way to
contain or eliminate this threat. Just listen to the candidates for the next
presidential elections from both parties addressing this issue. Only one member
in each party seems to reject these ideas as distortions of realities and
political propaganda against a "designated enemy", which in truth
As we can clearly see, even in a society that prides itself as the champion of freedom and democracy, true freedom of expression is a rare commodity simply because any meaningful expression of opinion is contingent upon a sufficient knowledge of the facts, not disinformation propagated by centers of manipulation and indoctrination.
This brings me to the introductory address by the Columbia President, Mr. Bollinger, before the Iranian President, Ahmadinejad, was introduced as the guest speaker. His last comments said it all: "We do not have access to the levers of power, we cannot make war or peace, we can only make minds, and to do this, we must have the most fulsome freedom of inquiry."
What, Mr. Bollinger; you can only make minds? Was this a Freudian slip or did he really mean that the job of the university in his opinion is to "make minds"? I am inclined to think that his intention must have been to say "to nurture minds" rather than "to make minds". However, his highly prejudicial, unethical and undiplomatic assault on his invited speaker spoke volumes about Mr. Bollinger's own lack of intellectual integrity and, indeed, cowardice. His own mind was obviously made for him!
If his outrageously rude behavior was in response to the demands by Columbia University's benefactors that support what, as Bollinger said, "[I]s the world center of Jewish studies...and now in partnership with the Institute of Holocaust Studies." and also to protect his own job, he exhibited a level of moral depravity and cowardice truly unbecoming any academic, let alone a university president. If, on the other hand, those remarks were his own and reflecting his personal feelings, shame on a system where a culturally handicapped political ignoramus like Bollinger could rise to such academic heights.
Perhaps Mr. Bollinger could next bestow an honorary doctorate
Now, we do have to admit that it took a lot of courage for President Ahmadinejad to accept the challenge of appearing in front of clearly hostile audiences and responding to loaded questions by sarcastic and antagonistic interviewers.
I don't really know whether Mr. Ahmadinejad has any media
consultants or publicity advisors familiar with the subtleties and nuances that
are elementally vital in addressing the American audiences in order to impart
the desired impression. His female translator during his
There were many times when Mr. Ahmadinejad could have
responded more effectively to some of the deliberately loaded questions. For
example, when Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes program demanded a yes or no response
to whether the Iranian President would agree to not attack
Before his interview with Charley Rose on September 26, Mr.
Rose prepared the viewers by establishing certain allegations as well-known
facts. "He is" he starts, "as you know, a very controversial figure, because he
refused to acknowledge the Holocaust, the right of
Well, what a surprise; Ahmadinejad does not feel compelled to respond to loaded, accusatory questions as posed! Did you ever stop beating on your wife, Charley Rose? Answer yes or no!
I am sure the international impressions regarding President
Ahmadinejad's speeches at the UN and
Could it be that Mr. Ahmadinejad is so confident about his and his nation's invulnerability that the need for more effective public relations techniques is not deemed necessary.
I believe this visit was the best and perhaps the last
opportunity for the Iranian President to make a case for
Quite frankly, fully expecting the accusatory language and the sarcastic tone of the interviewers, I was very disappointed that Mr. Ahmadinejad was not better rehearsed to respond accordingly. As many heads of state or dignitaries do, he had the right to ask to see and pre-approve the questions put to him in advance of the broadcasts.
He also made some inexcusable mistakes. One example was
declaring that there are no homosexuals in
Another was in responding to the accusation that
This is a war of words for the time being. An opportunity, I
believe, was missed during the Iranian President's visit to
Yes, we hear words of praise for Ahmadinejad's performance in
the "lion's den" coming from the Iranian press and some here in the
Finally, I firmly believe that there are so many shared
It was irritating but of no surprise to me that questions put to Ahmadinejad during his interviews dealt to an inordinate extent with the Israeli issues rather than Iran/US relations and potential cooperation. Rather than respond to such questions, I wished Mr. Ahmadinejad had the presence of mind to force the dialog back onto proper tracks.
I was actually happy that the interview arranged with Christian Amanpour of CNN was cancelled. After all, what was she going to address that Mr. Ahmadinejad had not already confronted in his other interviews? Clearly more of the same. But this time, coming from a journalist with an Iranian background and supposedly with better interpretive prowess, it would give the same exact menu the appearance of more flavor and authenticity.
... Payvand News - 9/28/07 ... --