Who, really, are the Iranian people?

Guess what? They’re just like us, estranged from the imperial policies of the U.S. Government military/industrial complex.

In the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran that got fixed in place after three decades on the very day of the one and only heliocentric square between Uranus and Pluto, posting this article feels very sweet.

Iranian girl: “Don’t you make one yourself? Why did you make a bomb?”

Iranian woman: “America. Leave. Let. Live! Thank you so much.”

A 3-Minute Video Tells You What Iranians Really Think Of America

November 13, 2013

By Benjamin Mayer


a, 3-minute, video, tells, you, what, iranians, really, think, of, america,
A 3-Minute Video Tells You What Iranians Really Think Of America
Image Credit: Youtube.com

The Argo image of Iran, in which Iranians are irrational radicals bent on the destruction of the United States, often dominates the American imagination. There is no denying that the Iranian government, with its incendiary rhetoric and sponsorship of terrorism, has done lots to deserve this reputation. But as most Americans will probably tell you, it would be a mistake to confuse the government with the people.

This open mic session, held on the streets of Tehran, highlights what average Iranians really think. Most aren’t fans of the American government, but their critiques of U.S. policies, often given in English, are given in a rational and cool-headed way. However much you might disagree with their ideas on nuclear weapons, it’s clear that they are reasoned opinions, not irrational emotional outpourings. There are no “Death to America” chants to be found.

Americans must recognize that while there are many Iranians who are radicals, not all of them are. Furthermore, there is a huge disconnect between most Iranians and their government. The recent election of President Rouhani, the most moderate candidate allowed on the ballot by Ayatollah Khamenei, is just the most recent instance of the Iranian people expressing their rejection of the hardline politics of the previous president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The 2009 Green Movement is another important example of this. When Ahmadinejad was prematurely declared the winner of the presidential election, despite his widespread unpopularity, it sparked countrywide protests. Eventually, over a million Iranians took to the street to protest the rigged electoral victory. This popular movement, not unlike the Arab Spring uprisings that followed it, was violently suppressed by the state police.

The internet offers more insight into the beliefs of everyday Iranians. Earlier this year, at the height of tensions between Iran and Israel, an Israeli launched an initiative called the Peace Factory. For it, he forwarded a simple but potent line: “Iranians, we love you.” The underground response to this in Iran was in kind. Iranians, with their faces covered, posted pictures and videos with the line, “Israelis, we love you.”

Practically, this knowledge about Iranians might not change anything right away. Radicals remain entrenched within the Iranian political elite. Ayatollah Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guard, and other powerful figures try their best to steer Iranian policies towards radical ideological purity, despite more moderate voices.

But it is still useful for Americans to realize that the image of Iranians they’ve been fed is inaccurate. The narrative of a monolithic, radical Iran strengthens firebrand politicians in our own political system who gain clout warmongering and refusing to compromise. With the Iranian regime taking real steps to resolve the issue of nuclear proliferation, it’s more important than ever that we keep the voices of everyday Iranians in mind, and ignore the politicians in the U.S. who are pushing us towards war.

Ben is interested in the political and social trends that are shaping global affairs. He’s previously worked in, India, Lebanon and Haiti. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, he graduated from Boston College in 2012 with a BA in History and …
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0 Responses to Who, really, are the Iranian people?

  1. I write this for my friend Cynthia, who couldn’t get the comments section to work . . .
    Here’s what she emailed to me:

    I wanted to say – before those moving images were posted, on the
    original post you shared abt Iran – anyone who has gone to UCLA, lived
    in major cities, and got around at all knows the humanity of the
    Iranian people. In fact, Westwood, the neighborhood around UCLA, was
    for a while called “Tehrangeles,” because it was actually larger than
    Tehran in terms of Iranians concentrated in one place. You can imagine
    the cell phone and internet contact Iranian-Americans have with
    families back in Iran.

    Iranians or Persians as they like to call themselves have an ancient
    and beautiful culture. There are similarities between northern Indian
    cuisine, which uses the same
    spices and rosewater, and Iranian dishes. We loved it when Marjane
    Satrapi came out with her book and later film, Persepolis, and its
    sequels – our local theatre in Yellow Springs, Ohio and library
    featured these.

    It reminds me of an experience I had in the
    mid-1980s in Los Angeles – I worked for a company which did
    engineering and design work around the world. So they had literature
    from related construction companies. This was during the period
    President Reagan was calling Russia the “Evil Empire” and Hollywood
    got in on the act by televising programs about Russian invasions of
    the US. But I was reading that the top US construction firm, Turner
    Construction, was building projects in that same Russia – and
    something did not quite jibe. If they were our enemy, why were our top
    companies already doing business there, and why were ordinary people
    being told to hate them, while business deals were already in
    progress? I knew US business in those days would never take the risk
    of being in place in a country with which there was a risk of a major
    war …]

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