Recent Visit to Iran Dispels American Myths – Author Finds a Complex Country and Friendly People

by on July 26, 2017 · 1 comment

in World News

By Beau Grosscup

With American claims abound both in the media and during the recent Presidential campaign that Iran is the de-stabilizing force in the Middle East (unchallenged by any presidential candidate) in mind, I recently accepted an invitation to speak at Tehran University’s Human Rights Conference.

I was invited by Dr. Foad Izadi, Assistant Professor, Faculty of World Studies and Director of American Studies Program, University of Tehran, as one of five professors from Canada and the US who were invited to give presentations at a University of Tehran conference.

My presentation was on ‘US War of Terror: dodging the terror label.’ It was an updated and expanded argument first presented in my book: “Strategic Terror: the politics and ethics of aerial bombardment”, (Zed Books, 2006). Dr. Izadi informed us we were invited to speak at the conference after a careful examination of our writings and discussion with our publishers, plus our activism on behalf of justice and human rights.

Famous crypt mosque, Tehran. All photos By Beau Grosscup

Outside the conference, I found life in Iranian cities (we were not in rural areas) is very similar to life in most major cities of the world with congested traffic, air pollution, a mix of middle-class and poor on the streets but very class-based segregated neighborhoods, with gated communities for the rich.

A religious enforced form of patriarchy, men are visible on the streets, shops, offices and mosques, while women are invisible. Those women who are out and about vary in what they wear. All cover their heads with scarves while the very religious women are in black from head to toe.

Less religious and the young wear colorful traditional garb with the very rich decked out in the very latest colors and fashion based on ‘traditional’ (patriarchal) foundation.

People are warm and friendly, especially to those they identify as tourists and they make a special effort to embrace Americans. Public buildings (airports for example) have two entrances, one for men and one for women.

Religious buildings are everywhere, dominated by mosques and Christian orthodox churches and a few synagogues. Religious tolerance is very apparent and Iranian Jews appear to be free to worship.

monuments to Iranian martyrs

Pictures and monuments to Iranian martyrs, especially recent victims of ISIS, US-backed MEK and Israeli terrorism (nuclear scientists) are in full view.

The 1979 revolution is very much on public display including the ‘Death to America’ sign in the embassy area of Tehran.

Concern about the economic sanctions, government corruption and the threat of a US sponsored war of regime change are also very much on the minds of those people we talked to.

Contrary to nearly forty years of US-Israeli demonization of Iran as a monolithic society ruled by religious zealots, underneath the expected patriarchy, I found a culturally complex, politically diverse, tradition-based yet modern country with intellectually interested citizens wanting friendship with the US and its people.

SAVAK torture center

As a hybrid theocracy/democracy, their political economy doesn’t fit the preferred US capitalist/liberal democratic model. But, neither do the secular dictatorships and pure Theocracies, such as Saudi Arabia, the US uncritically embraces.

US criticism of Iran’s ‘human rights violations’ bewilders Iranians. Memories of US support for Shah Reza Pahlavi’ dictatorship (a visit to his SAVAK torture center makes sense of Tehran’s  ‘Death to America’ poster) remain vivid. Some victims of his torture machine hold powerful political positions as others; severely damaged physically and psychologically, suffer through life.

Iranians know pro-Israel Wahabi Saudi politics drive the US War of Terror (14,000-18,000 Iraq/Syria civilian casualties,, 8/14-7/17) that is devastating the Middle East. Yet, they fight ISIS, allegedly the US’s major enemy, in Iraq and Syria. Complying with the Joint Plan of Action, Iran poured concrete into its Arak nuclear reactor. Yet, Congress refuses to lift economic sanctions and more are coming.

Northern Tehran

Iranians fear that unless they unilaterally surrender their sovereignty, they are next in line for US ‘shock and awe’ terrorism. A US-Israel imposed ‘regime change’ means the Shah’s family (his son and wife await in Paris) will return to torture and plunder, and the US principal of human rights, based on the ownership of property (the more you own, the more rights you have), will again prevail.

As a sovereign nation, Iran has every right to resist this US-Israeli imperialist scenario. While self-preservation is the major concern, Iran is also fighting to prevent the Neo-conservative disaster from spreading, possibly to Israel and US. I came home from Iran even more determined to help. I encourage you to do the same.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Frank Gormlie July 26, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Although this post does not necessarily reflect the views of the OB Rag staff, I believe we just lost a long-time monthly contributor because of it.


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