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Velvet Hand, Iron Glove
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by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:28 pm    Post subject: Velvet Hand, Iron Glove Reply with quote

Velvet Hand, Iron Glove
by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

I had just about convinced myself that Iran is not a police state and then the authorities detained me for a second time.

The first time was in Isfahan, for committing journalism. The police apologized and let me go after 30 minutes when my papers were found to be in order. The second time was at Tehran's airport as I was trying to leave, and this time the interrogation was tougher.

"Have you ever been to Israel?" Gulp, yes.

"Are you working for the Israeli government?" Of course not.

"Are you working for the American government?" I tried to explain that my views make me unemployable by either the Bush or Sharon administrations, but the interrogators were weak on both subtlety and humor.

After hinting for 90 minutes that I was a spy and a liar, and that they might hold on to me indefinitely, the interrogators finally let me board my plane. Indeed, toward the end, they seemed worried principally by my threat to write about the encounter.

That episode crystallized an impression that had been forming during my trip through Iran: if it were an efficient police state, it might survive. But it's not. It cracks down episodically, tossing dissidents in prison and occasionally even murdering them (like a Canadian-Iranian journalist last year). But Iran doesn't control information partly because satellite television is ubiquitous, if illegal and people mostly get away with scathing criticism as long as they do not organize against the government.

The embarrassing point for us is that while Iran is no democracy, it has a much freer society than many of our allies in the Middle East. In contrast with Saudi Arabia, for example, Iran has (rigged) elections, and two of its vice presidents are women. The Iranian press is not as free as it was a few years ago, but it is now bolstered by blogs (Web logs) and satellite TV, which offer real scrutiny of government officials.

I was astonished that everywhere I went in Iran, people would immediately tell me their names and agree to be photographed and then say something like, "There is no freedom here."

All this means, I think, that the Iranian regime is destined for the ash heap of history. An unpopular regime can survive if it is repressive enough, but Iran's hard-liners don't imprison their critics consistently enough to instill terror.

Pet dogs, for example, are strongly discouraged in Iran as dirty and contrary to Islam, and traffic police regularly arrest dogs and their owners. But the number of pet dogs is multiplying, and Tehran now has dozens of veterinary clinics.

Many Iranians believe that the Iranian leadership is pursuing a "Chinese model," in which the authorities tolerate personal freedoms but rigidly control politics. But it won't work. In China, the greatest expansion of personal freedoms was followed, in 1989, by the biggest antigovernment demonstrations in Chinese history.

In one country after another (including Iran in 1979), repressive governments have tried to buy time by easing up a tad, and dissidents have used that as leverage to oust the oppressors. I'm convinced that Iran will be the same (although I should acknowledge that my Iranian friends, who know the situation much better, tend to be more pessimistic).

The crisis in legitimacy even manages to create nostalgia for the repressive shah. "Everybody longs for the good old days of the shah," said Amir, a peasant in a village north of Isfahan. "Prices were cheap, and he was good at building the country. If the shah built a road, it would still be good after 30 years. Now if they build a road, it cracks and falls apart in a few years."

Young people constantly told me how they scolded their parents for backing the Islamic Revolution in 1979. As a young woman, Sogand Tayebi, put it, "Those who backed the revolution are now sorry about that."

In the end, I find Iran a hopeful place. Ordinary people are proving themselves irrepressible, and they will triumph someday and forge a glistening example of a Muslim country that is a pro-American democracy in the Middle East.

I treasure a memory from the airport: after I was detained, a security goon X-rayed my bags for the second time and puzzled over my computer equipment. He snarled at me, "American reporters bad!" The X-ray operator, who perhaps didn't know quite what was going on, beamed at me and piped up, "Americans very good!"
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stefania



Joined: 17 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NYT Wake up !!

Down with NYT
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redemption



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stefania, what the heck are you talking about??? These articles in the NYT are perfectly good.. DID YOU READ IT? It's a damn good article - jesus.. looks like the Democrats may decide to take on the IRan issue..

read the article please - and then make your comments.!
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stefania



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

this article can be niece, by the ENTIRE STAFF OF THE NYT IS A ****..

ELAINE SCIOLINO, ETC ETC...

DEMOCRATS WILL NEVER TURN IN FAVOR OF IRANIAN PEOPLE.

DON'T KEEP YOUR HOPE ON THIS DEAR..

DEMOCRATS HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO CREATE THE ISLAMIC HORROR REGIME AND 9/11TH
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redemption



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me first inform you of something dear - Democrat, Republican means nothing okay? It is a matter of prudent objective thinking politicians, writers, or others on either side judging issue by issue.. You can say what you want to say - but I find it very very very helpful that a newspaper which usually talks nonsense is actually publishing good articles with re: to Iran.. do you know what I mean? I agree with you about Scioliono and the rest of the follish crew - but these guy, at least right now - seems pretty legitimate.!
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stefania



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, but for me the NYT is like a Virus !!

Today i was chatting with a friend of mine from Iran.

He asked me if Bush has any chance to be re-elected .. He said :

"If Kerry wins, it would be the end for us and mullahs will stay at power. VIVA BUSH ! "

I think that he and all the other Freedom Lovers are right to fear the Virus called John CARTER Kerry.

Kerry supports Ebadi and Ebadi supports Kerry.

Kerry and his friends Mr. Nemazee and NIAC are getting money by defaming and trying to SILENCE THE REAL FREEDOM MOVEMENTS IN THE US,LIKE SMCCDI.

BUT SMCCDI IS READY TO EXPOSE THEM AND AVOID KERRY'S VICTORY.
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redemption



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right, but I'm asking you and others to see the importance and significance of these new types of thought process and articles coming out of the NY Times.. do you see? -- get the left also on the side of the Iranian people - and create more moderates and less division between both sides..

stefania wrote:
Yes, but for me the NYT is like a Virus !!

Today i was chatting with a friend of mine from Iran.

He asked me if Bush has any chance to be re-elected .. He said :

"If Kerry wins, it would be the end for us and mullahs will stay at power. VIVA BUSH ! "

I think that he and all the other Freedom Lovers are right to fear the Virus called John CARTER Kerry.

Kerry supports Ebadi and Ebadi supports Kerry.

Kerry and his friends Mr. Nemazee and NIAC are getting money by defaming and trying to SILENCE THE REAL FREEDOM MOVEMENTS IN THE US,LIKE SMCCDI.

BUT SMCCDI IS READY TO EXPOSE THEM AND AVOID KERRY'S VICTORY.

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stefania



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

THIS ARTICLE MAY BE NICE, BUT IT DOES NOT CONVINCE THAT NYT OR THE DEMOCRATS ARE TURNING IN FAVOR OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE.

NOT AT ALL.

NYT IS WHAT IT IS .. BIASED AND IRI-AGENT

MRS. SCIOLINO, HOW MUCH DO YOU EARN A DAY ?
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stefania



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DEAR, DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME TRYING TO BRING THE LEFTISTS ON THE IRANIAN SIDE.. THEY WON'T ..

YOU ONLY CONTINUE TO EXPOSE THE ISLAMIC REGIME SO THAT THEY MAY UNDERSTAND FULLY ..

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING NOW IS TO SEEK FOR UNITY AMONG THE IRANIAN OPPOSITION FORCES..
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Spenta



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a a very good piece.

Stefania,

I agree that Elaine Scolionio etc. have been very bad, but Kristof's pieces are very helpful in turning things around. Articles like this make it much harder for people promoting trade with Iran.

Bush has been president for the last 4 years and whats the result? The Mullah$ now have the US over a barrell with Iraq and Afghanistan, so their regional influence and might has been quadrupled. They have much more power now then ever before. Bush wouldn't dare confront them on anything, because they could destabilise Afghanistan and Iraq. If Bush gets re-elected, the Mullah$ will continue to have him over a barrell with Iraq, so I don't see much difference because the corporate interests are eager to have a stable middle east, and the instability has already cost too much and been very bad for business! More instability in the region can be catastrophic!

But what I see as something that could tip the balance if you may, is for the left to start to shift against the Mullah$, because then most of the international press will follow, and then even the EU leadership can't get away with it. Yes, the EU leadership can be 'shamed' into behaving!

Iran needs the help of the left and the right, Democrats and Republicans, Americans and the EU. This US vs EU, Republicans VS Democrats business has not freed Iran, the same way the Arab Israeli conflict has not, these conflicts just continue to maintain the stalemate. Look, Bush started his presidency talking tough about China, but today Bush referes to China as a "trading partner". Ultimately both Bush and Kerry could potentially say that in a year or two. The only thing that can stop them is public opinion, and that is informed by the press. You can't win public opinion with just Fox News, we need the NY Times as well.


Last edited by Spenta on Sat May 15, 2004 4:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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stefania



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spenta, i respect your opinion..

I have a different opinion as you know, and i fear John Kerry as do many Iranians.

After the case of the lawsuit against SMCCDI and Aryo ,i am against him more and more..

Let's respect our difference of opinion but let's try to unite the various Iranian Opposition Forces ..

what you think ?
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asher



Joined: 03 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spenta and Redemption,

I emphatically agree that the moderate liberals are the ones we need to reach most. I'm a liberal myself, and I believe it is perfectly legitimate to see the freedom campaign as a liberal cause; in fact, I think the majority of so-called "liberals" have forgotten what their own beliefs are supposed to stand for.

We need to welcome positive change whenever, and wherever, it occurs. Bearing a grudge against liberals because they were wrong in the past makes no more sense than when leftists say "America backed Khomeini/Saddam/whoever in the past, so why should we support America when they want to get rid of those people now?" It's the same kind of non-logic.

Some of our most important and eloquet allies are former and current leftists. Stefania, need I remind you of Orianna Fallacci?

I've posted on this subject in another thread, so I don't want to repeat myself too much. But there is an important faction of liberals in America and elsewhere who never went along with the leftist anti-war movement. Some of the most important names are:

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat from my home state of Connecticut;
Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat from Georgia who endorses Bush;
The New Republic, a very fine, intellectual, liberal magazine;
Peter Beinart and Leon Wieseltier, editors for TNR;
Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times;
Phyllis Chesler, feminist activist;
Johann Hari, columnist for The Independent (UK);
Irshad Manji, Canadian lesbian feminist and practicing Muslim;
Christopher Hitchens, former columnist for The Nation;
Andrew Sullivan, gay moderate/conservative columnist and blogger ...

Most of these names can be found with links on the sidebar of my blog. It's especially critical to reach out to this moderate-liberal group now. I will be writing more about the role of liberals in the freedom movement in the weeks to come.
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asher



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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also there's a very fine book (I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting this morning) called Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman (who writes for, once again, The New Republic). Berman gives a historic overview of the trends of democratization and secularization in the 19th and 20th centuries, and also the influence of Sayyid Qutb, whom he regards as the founder of contemporary Islamism.

Stefania, I agree with you about Kerry, but he doesn't represent all Democrats. Besides, if you cannot work together with people who don't have exactly the same politics as you, how are you ever going to "unite the various Iranian Opposition forces"?

Basically I don't think either "Liberal" or "Conservative" is right or wrong in itself; it's just a different mindset, and the important thing is to work together with other people for what's best. That's how we learn to be liberal without being irresponsible, and conservative without being reactionary.
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asher



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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, one last observation and then I'm really done.

Go back and read the first sentence of Kristof's column:

"I had just about convinced myself that Iran is not a police state and then the authorities detained me for a second time."

What does that tell you? It tells you he's beginning to get a dose of reality, and he's beginning to lose his illusions. That's exactly what we need. This is how people change their minds and come over to our side: they begin to understand that the problem exists, and it is serious, and that something can and MUST be done about it.
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stefania



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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Asher, the names you mentioned above are known to me and I LIKE THOSE PEOPLE SO MUCH.

I HAVE LINKED THE NEW REPUBLIC, ANDREW SULLIVAN ETC.. ON MY BLOG BECAUSE THEY ARE REAL "RIGHT-WING" LIBERALS (OR NEW-LIBERALS)

BUT I FIND IT UNFIT FOR KRISTOFF AND FRIEDMAN TO CONTINUE WRITING FOR A NEWSPAPER LIKE NYT , WHOSE JOURNALISTS ARE FOR THE MOST PART BIASED .

AS FOR ISRAEL, DEAR ASHER, SINCE YOU ARE A JEW, I SAY THAT I SUPPORT WHATEVER ACTION ISRAEL CAN TAKE TO DEFEND ITSELF AND ITS SACRED SURVIVAL.

PLUS, AS SPENTA WELL KNOWS , I AM WITH THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF THE US ON ISSUES SUCH AS GAY MARRIAGE, ABORTION, DIVORCE, ETC..

I DISLIKE THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT !!

BUT FOR ME, WHAT MATTERS MORE IS THE FUTURE OF THIS DAMNED WORLD..
AND IN MY OPINION BUSH IS SO FAR THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SPREAD DEMOCRACY AROUND THE GLOBE AND CHALLENGE THE WORLD'S TYRANTS.

I HATE KERRY SO MUCH..

P.S. ZELL MILLER HAS CRITIZED KERRY LAST WEEK...ZELL MILLER SAID HE WILL VOTE FOR BUSH.. I ADMIRE THESE DEMOCRATS FOR BUSH ! Very Happy
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