The Politic of Politics
I was about eleven yours old when I lost my father, but I still remember quite a number of his words of wisdom. He used to say “people are either good or bad, but all people do both. Now, if a good person does something bad, then take it as a mistake; but if a bad person does something good, it is not a mistake on the opposite side! Watch it out because chances are it is a trap!!” I don’t remember him telling me how to tell the difference between a good guy and a bad one. I just guess he guided me to find it out myself.
Since religion was the only guidance for good versus evil, the answer seemed to be straight forward: Shiites were good and non-Shiites were supposed to be bad. What I did not know at the time was the fact that self acclaimed virtue was not unique to Shiites at all. In fact, it is the fundamental attribute of believers in any religion and even all non-religious systems of beliefs to think of themselves as the ONLY ones on the right path to salvation or socio-political righteousness.
Right after my father passed away, I realized a profound conflict of logic in my miniature mind: On one hand, I knew of Shiites who could not be considered good by any standard, and on the other hand, I loved a distant aunt who converted to Baha’ism. There was no way I could find anything bad or evil about her. Yet the socio religious line was clearly drawn to mean non-Shiites in general and Baha’is in particular were apostates that was simply translated to evil people. While I did not share my teenage friends’ obnoxious stories about Baha’is because I could not identify any of it with my aunt or my cousins, I was still confused. And in all my teenage years, I could not come to the conclusion that her being so good in general and nice to me in particular was a trap because I lived with her for a few months and she did not even try to influence me to convert when she had an excellent chance of whispering the faith in my vulnerable ears. So I could only feel sorry for her and my cousins because in my strong religious conviction they were eternally doomed!
Later I read a great poem that is roughly translated to: Take he who is good tempered as a good person irrespective of his hereditary religion:
هر که را خلقش نکو نيکش شمار ... خواه از نسل علی يا از عمر
While it did not work for my dear aunt because her faith was of choice not heritage, it took me some bad experiences to realize the poem was also flawed. Nonetheless, in order to solve the dilemma of character and behavior, I never stopped thinking about them. In my youth years --When I could hardly tell the difference between the two-- I started reading about the subject matter and soon I proved myself to meet common standards for religious and academic research.
It was during this same period of my troubling adolescence that I followed the news about America’s civil unrest. I read about Martin Luther King who was a step ahead of his time when he dreamed of judging people based on the content of their characters instead of the color of their skins. I was already convinced he was not ahead of Islam because Quran like other holy books did include versus to the same effect, but Mohamad actually practiced it. Yet it was spiritually satisfying to notice an outsider dreaming it. Nevertheless, it was not a solution to the dilemma of character and behavior I was trying to resolve.
The more I learned about the two, the more I realized how unfair it was to judge people based on their intrinsic characters (as opposed to earned character) because they had nothing to do with it: a pigeon is made to fly and a snake to crawl. On the other hand, if behavior is a direct extension or byproduct of character, it was also unfair to penalize people for their bad behaviors or reward them for good ones. I concluded we must dream for a more equitable judgment. And I tended to believe human nature has a strong tendency to strive for the better not worst.
I went through this summary of a rather lengthy personal experience just to show how we are continuously subject to suppressing our intrinsic and judgmental feelings in order NOT to question the validity of what we believe in. Believing is simply black and white and no shades of grey in between. You are either with us or against us. You would either take Jesus as your savior or be doomed. You are either a westerner or uncivilized. You are either a good guy or a bad guy, etc.
That is not to say there are no shades of grey within your side of division. Once you are divided to fall in one group against the other, you can enjoy a wide spectrum of different opinions. But your chance of crossing the borderline is practically slim. You are a part of “WE” NOT them. Take the constitution of America for an example: no black was intended or included in “We, the people” because blacks were slaves or simply properties, NOT people. So while different whites had so many different opinions about blacks -- including thinking of them as people -- it was simply impossible to cross the red line and express your bugging conscious that hey; blacks are people too. That is, of course, if your conscious was not put to sleep by exotic drugs of self interests, privileges, peer pressure, etc. It took blacks intelligentsia tremendous hardship to make their own people –BLACKS-- believe they are people too, let alone making whites to extend human rights to them.
Take Russia during the cold war for another example, any and every point of view to even remotely question the validity of it being labeled as THE evil empire was simply mute; taking that premise as a solid fact, then you had every opportunity to express your opinion about how to deal with it any which way you could imagine. The reason was simple. Once you started discussing the nature of an evil empire, not only you would have had destroyed the default subliminal assumption that the U.S. was not evil, but also you would have led people to start questioning the evil nature of America’s undercover activities as well.
That is how a belief system is propagated. You simply talk about how bad the other side is, by default you are taken as THE good side. The vicious cycle gets rolling when the demonized side begins doing the same.
The mentality of believing is so powerful, we did not realize the short period of civilized dialogue was just day dreaming in modern times. All of a sudden we woke up to realize it was a controlled media based on belief. It just grew too big; it was impossible to keep it secret anymore. The same media that was supposed to open up our minds to different aspects of an issue was in fact the propaganda tools of a monstrous machinery of hate and fear mongering for war profiteers even as Dwight D. Eisenhower was delivering his farewell speech against the danger of Military Industrial Complex.
Bush’s taking an extreme measure to fight extremism is not only ironic but also a perfect example to prove he and his gang of warmongers are no different than evil terrorists. It is not just me repeating myself; it is the whole world coming to the same conclusion that a military shock and awe is the ultimate act of terror. Something they celebrated shamelessly in the media that ultimately brought about hundreds of thousands of human casualties for innocent Iraqis. What was the mantra for this immoral exuberance? Good guys fighting Bad guys. I almost forgot: add the element of collateral damage in the equation --and while at it-- don’t forget the justification for the greater good! Just take the Bible, Quran or any other holy book, and you can twist any verse you like to mean what you want it to mean! Laws of the land and international laws are also subject to the same abuse. It just takes the almighty power of the U.S. to interpret Geneva Convention in a way to justify its abusive conducts.
That is where we are so vulnerable to the vicious cycle of power wielders. In recent history, it was Khomeini who first mixed politics with religion and called America the Great Satan. It took Bush two decades to retaliate in demonizing Iran as an axis of evil. The evil empire was no more! I am not going to defend Khomeini’s position based on his background and the overwhelming evidence for Iranian grievances he happened to represent at the time. But Bush’s using religious terminology in politics was in effect a barbaric slap in the face for any secular value we were proud to appreciate. I do not intend to imply the intelligentsia was silenced. Quite to the contrary, yet it brought into politics different perceptions of God adding more elements for dividing people. It was by design to expand political differences to faith where Lt General Boykin said “my God was bigger than his” or “I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol." He could not realize that the real God was not comparable to be bigger or smaller. Only idols are. But his stupidity was not the issue. It was rather going back in times for centuries to start it all over again that changed the course of history.
We were pushed back to square one of religious criteria for good and evil only to a much wider scope. There was a brief moment of confusion before third world intelligentsia began to digest the magnitude of the problem. In places like Iran, you had to either defy the invading forces of imperialism in the name of democracy against all odds or your country was to board on the speeding track to be carved in small pieces – like the Soviet Union – based on Bernard Lewis’s plan for the greater Middle East! Remember “We, the people” is also translated to a homogenous subjugation of all less developed countries worthy of contributing to expanding globalization for monstrous conglomerates. It also means that only THE United States is privileged to be united for the time being.
Keep in mind the fact that the great majority of third world immigrants have strong and unresolved grievances against their native governments, and it takes years before they get a chance to realize the host country was far from the Promised Land. They never questioned the requirements for a visa to begin with. Had they done that, they would have realized it was designed to solicit skilled labor, wealth and expertise to the host country. Humanitarian based visas are mostly the same as employers paying insurance premium for employee’s dependents; think of a marketing incentive instead. Political asylum is, in essence, workers compensation. I am not trying to demonize immigration policies, but self interest is the name of the game. A third world government is just not sophisticated enough to comprehend the enormous effect of brain drain, capital departure, etc., let alone how the flow of immigrants can become a formidable 5th column in the hands of its rivals, if not enemies. Just ask yourself why different states in America compete with each other to attract investors, skilled labor, etc.
As far as Iran was concerned, it was history repeating itself to an astonishing accuracy one more time. Bush followed foot prints of Arab Caliphs who invaded Iran in the name of Islam; except for the fact that Baghdad was no longer a part of Persia and the name of the new pretext was democracy not Islam. In fact, Islam was, and still is, a major target in clash of civilizations. If democracy flourishes like Islam did, it will become a target. Think of democratic extremism! Oops, it is already there; it is called liberalism! Sorry to disappoint you, it is not far right!
So those who chose to do the leg work for them or could not comprehend the gravity of the problem had a simple job to do. It was to bombard people with a subliminal message that governments like people are either good or bad. The perception against Islamic Republic of Iran was already negative, and Saddam was the single most hated individual by Iranians and his own people alike. Again Bush as the great savior of the new world order was, by default, the good guy.
In other words, everything was in place for a slam dunk. Saddam was already destroyed in his power structure before the invasion, but the case against mullahs was different. So the whole gang of pawns was to demonize anything and everything remotely related to mullahs on a scale never seen before.
While a good portion of Iranian youth was anxious for the savior of the new world order to deliver them from the bondage of mullahs, the worsening Iraqis’ condition on the ground along with AbuGhoraib fiasco showed them a glimpse of what they were wishing for. A new tactic for damage control was put in place immediately. The initial reaction was simply denying a policy of torture and pretending it was the act of a few bad soldiers, but soon it changed to blaming Iraqis for not being prepared for democracy that was outrageously translated to not being worth it by the infamous Bill O’Reilly at Fox channel! It was double edge cunning swords of propaganda to not only shift the blame for failure to Iraqis, but also to lure Iranians into the slaughter house implying they are worth it!!!
It was then when the pace of attacking Persian culture and identity took an exponential speed. The target was no longer just Islamic faith and Arabs to divide and rule. It was now the real meat to carve. It was the Persian identity to be destroyed. Once you lose your identity you become just nuts and bolts in the monstrous machinery of imperialism. That is why demagogues were fed the ingredients to do the job. It was, and still is, a monumental task. You can hardly find any nationality who values knowledge and education as much as Iranians do. So demagogues expanded airing charlatanism in the name of science and intellectual discourse.
Persian patriots who were naive enough not to comprehend the depth of the tragedy, not only ignored them as being ridiculous but also fell right into the trap --on occasions-- when they agreed with an issue on its face value. They never realized satellite TV is not a classroom for dialogue. Its audience is masses who take it for entertainment and most importantly disgruntled people who are neither educated or trained to appreciate the complex nature of socio-political issues in modern times. You do not have to blame Iranians for falling into their traps. Just look at huge popularity of demagogues like Rush Limba and Bill O’ Reilly despite notorious scandals against them right here in the U.S. The rule of majority is not based on quality. It is quantity. Faith based opinion is a great majority. It is not limited to religion either. Faith based opinion is even worst in science and secularism, but it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss it.
So it was not only blaming the government for poverty, drugs, and prostitution as if they are not commonplace social problems of every country in every corner of the world, but also distorting any news to imply the outrageous defaming image American demagogues propagated against the Muslim world to be even worst against Iranians that is shamelessly translated to: it is our fault NOT world class larcenist agents of imperialism: از ما ست که برما ست
And we are supposed to believe our own demagogues that oil is just a commodity like other commodities! Sure it is a commodity, but it is not priced like other commodities. Why oil is -- in late Shah’s words-- far less expensive than water considering the fact that water is recycled, but oil is irreplaceable? Even worst, look at the un-proportional difference between the wholesale price of crude oil and its retail value of all of its products, let alone the astronomical federal and state taxes western governments collect at the pump. Oil companies pocket the un-proportionate difference between what they pay to oil producing countries and retailers for myriads of its different derivatives. Military Industrial Complex pockets taxpayers’ money to protect oil Companies’ interest. It is the simple most unnoticed fact in big business. Just look at the portion of tax dollars spent on defense. It is for god’s sake much less expensive to taxpayers to pay a fair price to oil producing countries than to finance military industrial complex to kill and to spread the seed of hatred between innocent people on both sides of the isle.
So, it is the U.S. government that is hijacked by special interests. Don’t follow it, it is lost too!
On the domestic side, there was a time when the U.S. government was one of a very few in the world where law and order took the driver seat by training and education NOT different interpretations of divine codes. That was not to abandon, fight or promote a particular system of belief. It was simply to learn and follow certain rules to coexist and make a safe journey back and forth in the free way of human relations. It was not to force people to reach the highway from ONLY one entrance (believing in a certain religion) or to follow a specific direction (following a particular divine path to salvation) or to use a particular means of transportation (abiding a particular canonic scripture) or to end at a certain exit --that is to either take it or be left behind--; in other words be doomed!
What happened? All of a sudden, they envied the Jewish state of Israel and the Islamic state of Iran! Why not creating a Christian state in the land of opportunity? Let’s crown Jesus over our military might to show them the Bigger God. Keep peace-loving Christians busy debating abortion and birth rights. The new Christian kingdom will follow dark aged crusaders’ brutality to a new low in morality and a new high in genocide. Sorry Mr. Eisenhower; it is good guys versus bad guys after all.
July 24, 2007