Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Iranian Half-Truths During the Harrison Years

June 17th, 2009 · No Comments

iranianfalconerGiven our admitted lack of expertise in contemporary Iranian affairs, we’ll henceforth do our best to leave the running protest commentary to far more qualified folks. But since we’re obviously somewhat transfixed by the Iranian opposition’s humble request for electoral fairplay, we couldn’t help but spend much of the morning delving into the nation’s history. Let’s face it, few of us know much about Iran before 1953, the year that the U.S. helped reinstall the Shah.

Of particular note is this hyperbolic Spectator clip from 1889, which was syndicated in The New York Times. Much of the ostensibly eyewitness account of Iran is typical of the era, complete with the requisite revulsion at “Mohammedanism” and an embarrassingly ethnocentric view of ordinary citizens. But there are nuggets of wisdom amidst the dreck; Microkhan was particularly struck by this passage about the Shah, who is described as being:

…powerless for good or for a single reform so long as the Mujitahids, the priestly order in Persia, with their enormous influence over a superstitious people, dread and dislike “infidel” and Western innovations likely to weaken their own power.

Of course, that rather perceptive passage is followed by this:

The great mass of the people are as apathetic in political matters as they are fanatical in religion.

As of right this moment, it seems nothing could be further from the truth.

Read the whole thing (PDF). It also mentions the tradition of revolts in the city of Isfahan, where much under-the-radar violence is currently taking place.

(Image via this great photo gallery)

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