Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bitter Pills and Poisons

Discussions of the Iranian presidential elections, due to be held on June 17th, are finally starting to appear on a wide scale online. The Gooya Newsletter has opened a whole new section dedicated to everything elections, and bloggers have already started weighing in on the candidates as well on for whom or whether they will vote.

I think I'll start increasingly including some election news/links/opinions about the elections, in case readers are interested in details (and inevitable dramas) of the presidential elections.

Ex-VP Abtahi's latest post includes a few lines on some of the candidates. I'm translating his comments on Rafsanjani below:

Mr. Rafsanjani has announced that pretty soon he will be forced to drink the bitter medicine of presidential candidacy and to run for president despite his inner desires to the contrary. I don't know why Mr. Rafsanjani has used this metaphor has so many PR and media consultants who work with his staff, why didn't they advise him that this metaphor is a big insult to the people of Iran and that if someone wants to be the president of the great people of Iran he wont think of the post of the presidency as a bitter medicine

The first thing I thought of when I read Rafsanjani's ill-chosen metaphor was Ayatollah Khomeini's comments about the 1988 cease-fire agreement that ended the tragic 8 year war with iraq; in referring to his having signed the treaty, he announced that he had "drank the cup of poison".

But anyway, Abtahi has a good point there, don't you think?

In any case, if Rafsanjani does become president, I don't think he will be the one taking any bitter medicines....

Monday, April 25, 2005

Someone sent me this link to footage of a building (which i believe is in falluja) being blown up by a U.S. missile. Turn up your volumes and listen to the shrieks of unrestrained joy as the building goes up in smoke, taking god knows how many innocent civilians with it. Notice also the use of the term "bitches" used in feminizing, and therefore by implication degrading,their perceived enemies. There you have it, militarized masculinity: it hides behinds big guns, never looks its victims in the eyes, and constucts its manhood at the expense of the "womanized" other.

Is it any wonder that domestic violence rates are disproportionately high in the households of U.S. army servicemen?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

** The No War on Iran Site, which will be reconfiguring itself shortly to reflect what seems to be the latest manifestation of U.S. plans for "regime change" in iran, has a new contributing member, Mana Kia. I recommend her debut post, which addresses the recent unrest among the Arab speaking Iranians in the province of Khuzistan.

** I've been stuffing my face with Gojeh Sabz and to a lesser extent, on Chaghale badoom . The chaghale here are not very good, they don't bring them to the market until they are quite big (unlike the small ones from iran which i linked to), so they are not tender and not always very tasty. The Gojeh, on the other hand, are delicious. I was so excited when i saw the season's first batch of gojeh that we bought some from a road vender for 12 dollars a pound. they were imported from syria and tasted like water, but we were so excited we ate the whole bag, unwashed, and paid a dear price the entire next day. it was worth it.

** R. came across this great site called Postsecret, which is an art project where people anonymously send in their secrets on postcards. You'll find a wonderful mix of funny, terrifying, sad, and down right devilish submissions.

** for reasons having to do with a temp project i was involved in, i ended up spending a day at a Muslim Brotherhood school. The place was immaculate, incredibly well funded, with well behaved and highly disciplined children. the entire place is covered with shiny murals and slogans exhorting the virtues of veiling, praying, and other pious acts. you know, the same kind of stuff you see all over iran, except that the gloss wore off our murals about 15 years ago, and the slogans about hijab and things are just unheeded reminders to a population that has increasingly turned its back on state sponsored religion, if not on religion all together.

anyway, even though everyone at the Muslim Brotherhood school was very hospitable and super nice, i pretty much ran out of the place when the day was done. i was feeling a bit bad about myself, though i couldn't quite explain why. R. says it is because some part of me still believes in a vengeful god and all the accompanying entrapments. He's right. indoctrination in post-revolution iranian elementary schools will do that to you.

**enough rambling for now. i'll try to update more, especially since the iranian elections are not so far away.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

until i was four or five years old, my grandparents lived in this great house with a pool in which i almost drowned. it was into that same pool that my uncle, who was then 12 years old, pushed his best friend out of excitement upon hearing that i had been born.

other than the near-drowning incident, which i can remember in vivid detail as though it happened yesterday, i only have one other memory from that house. the night the Shah died, the extended family was sitting in the living room, listening to the radio as my grandma cried. noone else gave two pennies about the passing of the recently deposed shah, and my grandmother was chastisted by just about everyone for wasting tears on the dead dictator.

in the days when the iranian revolution was breaking out in full force, young radicals used to regularly knock on my grandmother's door asking if she had any empty glass bottles she could spare. and my sweet sociable grandmother, who had no idea that the bottles were for making molotov coctails, would make daily donations to the revolutionaries.

then someone, i think my oldest uncle, caught her in a transaction, informed her of the exact nature of what she was contributing to, and the whole thing came to an abrubt end. but by then, who knows how many of my grandma's bottles had been used in attacking the regime of her beloved shah.

somewhere in this story of grandma's unwitting contributions to the revolution there is a lesson for contemporary iranian political activits, i think, but i'm not quite sure what it is.

and just for the record, though grandma's sentimental nostalgia for the shah himself hasn't really changed, she can't stand monarchists any more than i can, and she says "no" to a war on iran!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Thank god for Tony Blair. Yea, i never thought i would hear myself say those words either. but his announcement today that UK elections will be held on May 5th has meant that the BBC is devoting some of its pope and charles' wedding coverage to actual political news. (and let's hope that the British, unlike U.S. people, punish their leaders for deceiving them into an illegal war, though i wouldn't hold my breath on that one)

We were at the a friend's house when the pope died, and upon hearing the news, we said "oh, finally he died" as in "finally, the poor guy, he seemed to be really suffering in the end there" like we say in Persian whenever someone dies after a long illness "rahat shod".

a lebanese guy at our friend's house who was in town on some USAID mission to "promote democracy" in the region, took our statements the wrong way, and instead of telling us so that we could have the chance to explain ourselves and offer apologies for unintentionally offending him, he proceeded to lecture us about how great the pope was because "he fought against communism".

well, so did osama bin laden, now didn't he?

I'll spare you the argument i had with this fellow about how the pope's fatwas against condoms at the time when AIDS is ravaging Africa and the rest of the world means that he had a role in the preventable deaths of countless people.

but never mind, he fought against communism.

when one of--if not the--world's most theocratic, hierarhical, patriarchal intsitutions becomes the object of uncritical praise for days on end, i feel like i am living in a universe that is entirely different than the one the media is portraying (i wish i was living in an alternate reality)

In the midst of all this, it was refreshing to get an email from my dear friend h.k., who pointed me to Terry Eagleton's piece, The Pope has Blood on His Hands

Saturday, April 02, 2005

I haven't much felt like posting for the few weeks for a couple of contradictory reasons. For one, I was enjoying the arrival of spring and the Iranian new year's festivities that accompany it. On the other hand, the necrophiliac media, as an article I just read aptly described it, left me feeling too depressed to comment on anything.

For two weeks it was the impending death of terri schiavo, and now we have non-stop coverage of what are surely the pope's very last days.

One of the many tragic ironies in the case and coverage of terri schiavo is related to the fact that her condition was caused by an eating disorder (which brought on the heart-attack that caused her brain damage). Terri, who like 7 million other women and girls in the United States, starve their bodies in pursuit of apparent "perfection", was in the end starved to death after her very "imperfect" images were repeatedly broadcast worldwide.

Speaking of obsessions of media, it is worth looking into Jennifer Matsui's recent article published in Counterpunch, where she pulls no punches in uncovering what she identifies as some of the underlying motivations of those most fixated with cases such as Terri Schiavo's. Among Matsui's incisive observations/claims are the following:

Since feminism was successfully transformed under the banner of neo-liberalism into just another consumer option,('The right to Shoes') a kind of backlash women's movement has emerged in the 'Red States', where local communities have been crushed under the weight of Wal-Mart and Evangelical Christianity. The adherents to this new religion are for the most part, politically and econonically disenfranchised women seeking an outlet for their feelings of rage and hopelessness. With McMedia spurring them on with its wall-to-wall coverage of sensational trials, these women have adopted the silent symbols of gender inequity like Nicole Simpson, Laci Peterson, (and now Terri Shiavo) as their official martyrs. According to this rather nihilistic interpretation of feminism, dead women demand and deserve 'justice' while living ones go on maintaining the status-quo.


After the Colombine Highschool massacre in 1999, McMedia went on a rampage through the well-manicured streets of Littleton, Colorada, looking for clues as to how this particular tragedy could have happened, and psychoanalyzing every little aspect of life in an otherwise picture perfect community. By contrast, the invisible inhabitants of the Red Lake Indian Reservation (where the latest school massacre took place) are considered unworthy subjects for pop-psychologists and armchair experts since they fall into a class and income bracket which renders them irrelevant to the interests of 'real Americans'. Perhaps if the average American ever got a glimpse into life on an Indian reservation, they might just abandon their comfortably held delusions about the 'Land of the Free' and feel less inclined to celebrate the 'American West' and cheer for the 'Redskins'. The realization of a genocide going on in your own backyard tends to put a damper on the BBQ festivities.

for Jennifer's full article, go here.

for other article's by Jennifer Matsui, you can check the site of my friend sunil, dissident voice, where he has archived numerous articles she has written for him in the past.