For insight into the recent election and resultant ongoing strife in Iran, I turn again to the indispensable Christopher Hitchens. He’s just way smarter than I am. And, unlike most of us, he actually knows people in Iran who can give him a sense of what’s really going on over there.
From this week’s edition of his Fighting Words column at Slate.com:
For a flavor of the political atmosphere in Tehran, Iran, last week, I quote from a young Iranian comrade who furnishes me with regular updates:
I went to the last major Ahmadinejad rally and got the whiff of what I imagine fascism to have been all about. Lots of splotchy boys who can’t get a date are given guns and told they’re special.
Comforting at least to know that the Iranian fascists are just as much feeble-minded losers as ours here in the U.S., ain’t it?
The re-election of religious zealot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the President of Iran is sad news, but no one outside of the country could possibly be surprised by it, could they? As Hitchens reminds us, Iran is nowhere near a democracy. Iranian elections are presided over by a Guardian Council, a cabal of unelected clerics and lawyers that gets to decide which candidates are allowed to run for office and which are not. These totalitarian measures are necessary for the Muslim zealots who control Iran to retain their power because, as Hitchens also reminds us, they are clearly on the wrong side of history:
The obvious evidence of fixing, fraud, and force to one side, there is another reason to doubt that an illiterate fundamentalist like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have increased even a state-sponsored plebiscite-type majority. Everywhere else in the Muslim world, in every election in the last two years, the tendency has been the other way. In Morocco in 2007, the much-ballyhooed Justice and Development Party wound up with 14 percent of the vote. In Malaysia and Indonesia, the predictions of increased market share for the pro-Sharia parties were likewise falsified. In Iraq this last January, the local elections penalized the clerical parties that had been making life a misery in cities like Basra. In neighboring Kuwait last month, the Islamist forces did poorly, and four women—including the striking figure of Rola Dashti, who refuses to wear any headgear—were elected to the 50-member parliament. Most important of all, perhaps, Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah was convincingly and unexpectedly defeated last week in Lebanon after an open and vigorous election, the results of which were not challenged by any party. And, from all I hear, if the Palestinians were to vote again this year—as they were at one point supposed to do—it would be highly improbable that Hamas would emerge the victor.
Yet somehow a senile and fanatical religious clique that has failed even to condition the vote in a country like Lebanon, where it has proxy and surrogate parties under arms, is able to reward itself by increasing its “majority” in a festeringly bankrupt state where it controls the media and enjoys a monopoly of violence. I think we should deny it any official recognition of this consolation.
I’m with you, Hitchens. You tell ‘em.