Opinion article by Mohammad Rahbar (source: Rooz Online)
Being Iranian is not easy. During the last 35 years this has reached the edges of being impossible. Since the 1979 revolution, the Iranian identity has altered so drastically that even the generation of Iranians that lives on its mainland no longer speaks the same language, let alone those who left in the first months of the Islamic Republic. Right from the first decade of the revolution in the 1980s, many generations of revolutionaries and those who brought the Shah down and led the struggle against his despotism were already spending their lives behind bars, had been the victims of anonymous deaths, or had left the country, some even fighting the regime along with Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
It is astounding that any group that had the slightest disagreement with ayatollah Khomeini was brutally and completely destroyed, regardless of whether it had taken up arms against the new regime or was empty handed.
The fate that befell on Mehdi Bazargan and his eternal disqualification for running any office in the Islamic Republic, along with the various and numerous accusations and slanders that were thrown at him, along with efforts to completely banish the first prime minister of the revolutionary regime, are the perfect examples of how a revolution, and in this case a ravenous Islamic Republic, has been devouring its own children.
The outcome of the eight-year war - the longest classic war in the last 100 years - completely changed Iran and totally eliminated whatever had remained from the Pahlavi regime. It is true that Iran's history is recorded in the ruins of its palaces and that everyone who came to this land created his own facade. But previous emperors and kings never succeeded in destroying the social life and fabric which they inherited and they never introduced new creations.
With all his dislike of the Qajar dynasty, Reza Shah brought many Qajar princes into his government. And despite the astounding progress that Iranians made during the last years of that king, the people of Iran remained on the same historic course that had been launched by the constitution movement. Despite the despotism of his heir Reza Pahlavi, the latter's opponents were never eliminated in a manner that completely destroyed or annihilated them.
But the Islamic Republic of Iran embarked on a totally different trajectory. It completely and radically altered the lifestyle of Iranians. The open social atmosphere that existed during the Shah evaporated overnight. Writers, translators, film-makers, actors, poets and university professors were all eliminated. The relative independence of the judiciary disappeared with the appointment of a clerical judge. The army, while not formally dissolved, emerged unrecognizable.
It is ironic that the revolutionaries who spend their life whining over SAVAK (the Shah's secret police) left alive only those few of the Shah's men who had expertise in security matters. These hostages were assigned to the ministry of intelligence of the Islamic Republic till their last breaths, as if this was the only skill and experience from the Shah's regime that would be useful to the Islamic Republic.
The Islamic Republic successfully ended the historic relationship of Iranians with their past. In the absence of any independent media, writer or historian, Iran's history was completely negated and clerics who appeared in mosques, schools, the television networks, newspaper and even in the movie industry - a place that for generations these same clerics proclaimed to be a whorehouse - broadcast the Shiite version of Islam as proclaimed by the velayat faghih (supreme religious authority) while distorting and rejecting even other Islamic narratives of history, mysticism, and philosophy.
At the same time the regime completely negated and even ridiculed the history of Iran and Iranians, who had brought Islam and, prior to Islam, had their own distinct identity.
The self-centricity of the authorities of the Islamic Republic and their view that Islam is the adequate shop for building human beings, without the need for any other human experience such as science and technology, has resulted in breaking off Iran's relations and connections with the world. They wanted to believe that after the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran, there would be no relations between the outside world and Iran and that the war with Iraq was the only foreign relations that Iran had.
The generation of Iranians that went to school and grew up under the Islamic-dictatorial propaganda during these history-negating years, became so disenchanted with the identity that the Islamic Republic gave it that it turned its life underground. The many Iranians who became reticent and distanced themselves from the revolution turned to isolation rather than engaging in protest. There have been few historic pockets when Iranians lived under such duplicity and when the distance between their hearts and lives was so wide.
Imagine for a moment what a 20-year old Iranian understands from the 1979 revolution: a bunch of outdated revolutionary hymns that are played during the ten days leading up to the anniversary of the February 1979 revolution which summarize the struggle against the Shah into ten days.
According to this narrative broadcast by the Islamic Republic, the struggle against that dictatorship had no other purpose than to return Khomeini to Iran. Khomeini launched his revolution, he established the Islamic regime and then passed the torch to Khamenei, who is expected to take this relay run to its end and to Mahdi. That is all.
Now if the father of this very 20-year old young man is among those who has become disappointed with the revolution he would remember that a thousand unsaid events have taken place during these 35 years that neither he has the patience to talk about nor does his son have an interest in knowing.
The new generation of Iranians that carry the identity crisis that the Islamic Republic has created by devouring the children of the revolution, has in reality absolutely no interest to know what their fathers had done. The only thing they are certain of is that their parents made a huge mistake in embarking on a revolution. So as a young man he does not want to have anything to do with this historic blunder and is generally indifferent to what is going on around him. Instead, he just wants to enjoy the moment and if possible get out of the country.
To review our history and ponder about how to learn from the many mistakes that have been made, there must be an interest by the listener. But the Islamic Republic, and the fragmented generations of this land, has destroyed that instinct. All aspects of life have been disrupted, including the Iranian identity.
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