in Iran Should Deter, Not Prompt, War
am responding to letters concerning our current agitated state,
and specifically to Mr. Madavis letter in the last issue of
the Review. You voiced your concern for the decidedly liberal
stance against war that much of this campus has taken. I agree.
Much of what passes for liberal opinion on this and every other
liberal arts campus is indeed blind pacifism, as you
well put it.
I also left Iran around the same age, but I am a bit older than
you. I have slightly differing things to say, from my own experience
(a word you boldly capitalize in your letter, I assume in order
to point out the legitimacy of your opinion versus those of the
protected collegiate class). I hear you on the repression of fundamentalist
governments and I hear you on the willingness to sacrifice your
life for the greater good, the greater freedom, of the world. But
the lives of others?
My brother, perhaps you do not remember what was going down in the
streets of Iranian cities when the revolution hit. Maybe you were
too young to recall the bloodbath that was Tehran. Maybe you were
not yet even born. Let me tell you a little about it: children,
just hitting puberty, were being picked up for Khomeinis war
against the western-backed Hussein; men swung by the neck from cranes;
a pedantic, authoritative voice came over the loudspeakers like
clockwork, reminding the citizens of the newly Islamic Republic
of their unity and faith, their cohesive determination, and their
duty towards their country and God Itself to fight the enemy. Sound
familiar? Have you turned on a television recently?
Now you want to write, I mean, you actually want to write for others
to read, that Oberlin College shouldnt have a certain opinion?
And furthermore that that opinion should not be against war?
Baradaram, do you recall crowding in a basement while bombs dropped
to shake the earth? Being thrown to the ground or made to duck in
the back seat while tracer bullets flew in every direction? Watching
men executed in front of your house, unarmed, with nowhere to run?
Do you remember womens faces being doused with corrosive acid,
all of a sudden, just standing there, screaming, because some other
man or woman was given the authority to mutilate the beauty of those
who wouldnt wear their chadors? Thats war on citizen
soil, my well-intended freedom fighter, and it looks just about
the same no matter who is doing the dousing and who is doing the
Look, man, I am giving up political everything. I am leaving it
behind in pursuit of that which grapples onto my heart and pulls
me every day my art. When I read that issue of the Review,
however, during this short visit to my old college, where the students
have always been more progressive than the self-proclaimedly liberal
administration, I felt called to respond to this sort of nonsense
one last time. I hear you, man, I really do. And all that stuff
you call experience, I had it too. We fled over the mountains into
Turkey. We moved by cover of night for weeks without food and real
water, weeks of dodging dogs and border guards. We left while an
uncle of mine was still missing (and he hasnt shown up yet
today). We left my father in prison, the house of my childhood and
the superiority of Iranian pastries, but we decided to stand for
an end to violence altogether, not for a now-extinct security
against a now-extinct outside threat. Is anyone listening?
There is no safety anymore! Do you honestly think that this nation,
or any nation, so conceived in liberty, can continue to piss off
country after country, commit terrorist-like acts with a legitimate
army or police force, and not bear the brunt of resentment
from around the world? Is there any evidence at all that we can
separate our loss of six thousand with the losses that a bombing
assault would incur on the Afghan people, who by and large deplore
their Taliban autocracy? When, exactly, does it end?
I think you will find, Mr. Madavi, that the word liberal
has roots in freedom, and that its original connotations were extremely
positive. The idea is, you see, that we are learning all of these
arts and letters, sciences and languages, so as to better liberate
ourselves from the banalities of the human condition. The theory
is, you must understand, that these liberal arts will give us a
greater understanding of each other, and a greater means by which
to communicate, further that understanding and come up with solutions
of synthesis, not of compromise, and certainly not of reaction.
I think you will also see that the Taliban government wont
be as hard to oust as has been played up by our sensationalist,
profit-slanted, cliché-ridden corporate media. The
first great war of the century wont find any traditional
target, because, as you said, the Taliban government is horribly
repressive, and harbors few staunch allies amongst the people it
so oppressively governs. The Taliban will fall, and likely soon,
without the innocent bloodshed some of us Americans are just as
quick to be horrified by as we are to justify.
I am not scared, my brother, and I am not ungrateful either. I am
as thankful as can be to live in a country that, although naïve,
is at least trying, and to have gone to a college that, in the midst
of overwhelming and pseudo-patriotic bloodthirst, is willing to
jump ahead, as per its visionary reputation, and stand for peace,