Phi Beta Cons

Re: Iran Freedom Concert

This campus movement to educate college students about the situation in Iran is a great idea. Required reading should be Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. With all that it has been a runaway bestseller here, I’m not sure her picture of Iran under Islamic fundamentalism has penetrated American consciousness. Maybe because it was taken as more of a work of literary criticism? I don’t know. But she presents some devastating pictures–the Bahai became non-persons in Iran, for example. Their cemeteries were razed and no provision was made for them to bury their dead. They had to find ways to bury their dead in plots of ground far outside the city, transporting the corpses themselves. Private parties could be raided by the Islamic police looking for violations in dress among the females. Young fanatical men could claim that they were sexually aroused by the sight of a woman’s throat or forehead, for example, when the scarf was not secure, and the woman would be prosecuted.
Also very important is the way you can infer, without her actually realizing it herself, that Iranian students here in the U.S. at the time of the revolution, fired up by the countercultural and anti-American propaganda they absorbed on their American campuses, became an important part of the movement to overturn the shah at all and any costs. And it becomes clear that many had no idea what they wanted to replace him with, and didn’t realize that radical Islam was ready to take over, or misunderstood what Khomeni was all about, or in some cases, thought he could eventually be pushed aside for a more liberal leadership after he had served his purpose. Hah! It’s really a lesson in the grave dangers implicit in revolution. And by contrast, young people might be made to appreciate what the American revolution was about, how it was informed by reason and vision, with the fanatics, such as they were, kept in their place.

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