Yesterday marked the 21st anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in Iran, and tomorrow marks the anniversary of the funeral. Millions gathered to lay Khomeini to rest in sweltering heat, which fire hoses spraying water on the mourners did little to ameliorate. The quip to explain the abnormal heat on the day Khomeini was laid to rest, among many more progressive Iranians, was that the old man was so senile by the time he passed, he forgot to shut the door on the way down.
In 1996, I paid my first visit to Khomeini’s mausoleum, an ornate gold-plated shrine south of Tehran and on the edge of the vast Iran-Iraq war cemetery. At the time, the caretaker explained to me, they were having a problem: It is traditional to slip money through the protective metal latticework to where Khomeini’s casket lies. Many Iranians, however, were placing dog feces in between bills and the whole place reeked.
No worries, though, declare many apologists for Obama today: The Iranians must love being repressed. Why shouldn’t we side with the oppressive regime over the people? It’s a question to consider as another anniversary approaches: the first anniversary of the Iranian election protests.