I’m sure by now you’ve all heard. There is a 0.00001% chance that George Clooney may come to Iran.
At least he’s said that he’d like to.
I wonder if Sarah Larson will be coming along …
But what caught my attention was not the prospect of his dashing Armani suites striding the streets of Tehran (with 12 bodyguards in toe), but rather, his statement:
You can’t beat your enemy anymore through wars; instead you create an entire generation of people revenge-seeking. These days it only matters who’s in charge. Right now that’s us -for a while, at least.
I vaguely remember Jimmy Carter making the same sort of statement before meeting Hamas (as much as I hate relating Iran to Hamas, it is currently inevitable).
Although I think in this particular climate, these statements are quite admirable by one account, as an Iranian, it still strikes me as odd.
Why am I the “enemy”?
Iran and America have been enemies since the hostage takeover of the American embassy in Tehran. Although that was a remorseful act of stupidity, I think Iran paid the price dearly. For a country that is invading the world for fear of “weapons of mass destruction” and terrorism, they provided Iraq with unprecedented rates of it to crumble the lives of more than 100, 000 Iranians.
In fact, we remain one of those countries worst hit by WMD.
I’m not sure anybody every got back to us about an apology.
So, I go back to that statement: why are we the enemy?
Suicide bombing is evil. But Ariel Sharon slaughtered more Palestinians than hundreds of suicide bombers put together, why didn’t anyone say then: “he is our enemy, but we must talk to him”?
Why is Iran now an enemy? Despite all the mishandlings that my government has done in my country, I believe they are one of the most misunderstood systems in the world. They are not condemned for what they are, but rather, for what they are wrongly interpreted to be.
And only when you understand something do you have the right to condemn it. In the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world misinterprets them, and then decides to disagree with what they have not understood.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to Columbia University in September of 2007. He was called a madman in almost every North American publication, and irrespective of my personal beliefs, I found President Lee Bolinger no less a madman.
Ahmadinejad was asked about the state of gays in Iran, and he stated that, in Iran, we do not have gays the way you do in the West.
He has a point.
Iran, Iranian society, views this issue quite drastically different. Homosexuals were and continue to be mistreated, even in violent, vehement ways in North America. But just the fact that you mistreat a group in itself implies that you have acknowledged their existence. You can not attack a non-entity, but rather, a known entity.
In Iran, the mere existence of homosexuals, just up to a few short years ago, was not acknowledged by common folk – even by homosexuals themselves. These voices that have arisen on the part of Iranian homosexuals in the past few years were created after our expansive interaction with the West. That does not mean they are any less privy to their rights, but that 100, even 50 years ago, there was no grassroot struggle within Iran on the part of gays and lesbians – simply because even they did not acknowledge their own existence.
The situation of homosexuality in Iran is drastically different, historically, religiously and socially than it is in the West. And until fundamental questions are answered and improved, it is not an issue that can be divulged or debated for a real solution. Parents would thousands of times over prefer to have their child stay a lonely recluse all their life, stay in the closet as a lonely, miserable human being, than have them come out. The prospect has never been a possibility or a reality – neither on the part of the child nor the parent.
I disagree with Ahmadinjead not because his words are wrong. They are true in fact. The problem lies in that while society may have paranoia about endless things, it is the job of government to secure peace and justice for its people.
As a people, we were not acceptant of many things 40 years ago. But we are now. And many of it was due to the huge support of government. Just because homosexuality does not exist in Iran the way it exists in the West does not empty the government’s shoulders of responsibility.
But that is not the disagreement that the world cried and ridiculed for months after. They all calimed that he said “homosexuals do not exist in Iran” … and they lauged, howled, jeered, yelped with rage and mockery.
In this light, I saw Ahmadinejad as the victim, vehemently devoured for being a symbol of oppression, by a system that was in fact oppressing him. I forgot about his lunacy, his antics, and his fatal conduct of the last 3 years inside Iran – and was on his side.
I think that is the small, magnified image of how the world views our government. It does not condemn them for what they are, but rather, for what they are not.
And, also, for what the world wants them to be. Had they not cast us in this light, they would not have had the right to take up arms, tanks and fighter jets and ruin all that came in sight. I see it everywhere, on the news, on TV, Gunatanamo, in the vernacular of Western politicians. In Hollywood, you do not have to go as far as 300, The Lord of the Rings or Iron Man are no exception. The enemy is not those who are wrong or evil, because after all, let’s not kid ourselves, we never took the time to figure out what they really are.
But rather, those whose image is so drastically different that it can be exploited to create enough fear. Just about enough fear to allow us to exceed all human responsibility – we are so different, that, we are not really even human. And so human standards do not apply to us.
So I disagree with George. It’s not that they are ignoring the enemy, or refusing to talk. But that they consider him to be a totally different specie. To which totally different rules apply.
I am an enemy then. But I look in the mirror, and I don’t think I look that different after all …