Monday, April 28, 2008

1. So Scott MacLeod, TIME's Cairo Bureau Chief for about a decade, goes to Tehran to write a piece on bloggers in Iran and he decides to interview a journalism student in Berkeley, California for thoughts on the topic. With all due respect to the subject of this interview, who happens to be my friend, MacCleod would have probably had more insightful information for his readers if he had just stepped out on the street and asked a random person if her or she has a blog. What is the point of going all the way to Iran if you are going to call a guy in California about blogging in Iran?

And have you ever noticed that "western" Iran observers--from journalists to policy analysts to Iran "experts" of various stripes--all talk to the same 8 Iranians? The reason you find so many cliches floating around on Iran is not just due to the intellectual laziness and general ineptitude of those who reproduce this stuff, it is also largely due to the fact that only about 8 people are the original source for the material.

2. Filmmaker Deepa Mehta, known for works such as Water and Earth, which have themselves been variously critiqued for being neo-Orientalist and lacking critical engagement with Indian history, is apparently in contract talks with Azar Nafisi to make a film about Nafisi's infamously crappy Reading Lolita in Tehran. Somehow I doubt that Deepa Mehta would be moved by one's pleas to refrain from giving this boring and severely problematic book any more publicity, but it may be worth a try. Deepa Mehta's website may have some leads on how to get in touch with her.

3. Three days ago, the National Endowment for Democracy issued a statement asserting that it "neither organized nor funded the March demonstrations inside Tibet." As we say in Iran, when you pick up a stick, the thieving cat starts to run.

After South and Central Americans, now East Asia has become aware of the intrusive and destructive role of NED and its sister organizations. The same is not yet true of Iran and the rest of West Asia, but much to the dismay of those on the payroll, word is slowly getting around.

I hear that one NED paid "activist" is so alarmed, she has taken to making threatening phone calls to those who publicly challenge her.