Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Read This. (It's NYtimes, like many of my links- just go over to alterman's page and borrow his ID).

Finally, we get out from under the astronomically stupid "axis of evil" description of Iran and get a real exploration of the real country. Of particular note to Americans calling for a U.S. style revolution is this:

You find democratic reformers who have learned from the shah's failed attempt at imposed secularism, and from the past 23 years of Islamic rule, that no democracy will take root in Iran that doesn't find a respected place for Islam.

I think that Iran, once it establishes the proper balance of secular and religious influences in society, will emerge out from under its repressive theocracy and become the model for what the "Islamist" states will eventually look like, without the constant tension between the Islamic population and quasi-Nasserian governments.

Or is it that theocratic? Listen to this little gem: find religious thinkers who have also learned from the last 23 years that Iranians have lived through enough incompetent clerics trying to run a government — and trying to tell people what they should wear, think and speak — to know that Islam can't regulate every aspect of a nation's life in the modern age without producing a backlash. Many young Iranians are now running away from the mosques and dislike clerics so much that some mullahs take off their turbans and robes when they walk around certain neighborhoods, to avoid being insulted or harassed.

This is possibly the most hopeful news for the secular west that I've heard in a while. Why? Well, because Iran is the example of Shari'a in action, and this move away from the clerics and towards secular democracy (with the inevitable influence of Islamic law, but likely with a growing tolerance of non-Islamic peoples within the country as the zeal to convert by the sword fades) points out what would happen were the "Islamists" to take over other states in the area- sooner or later, the religious leaders would lose control and moderation would begin in earnest. Which is, oddly enough, pretty much what has happened with Christianity in much of the West.

We should watch Iran, and for the love of God (or Allah, whatever) let's put aside these notions of sponsoring violent revolution. If the U.S. wants to help Iran into the 21st century, it's going to need to be a much subtler, much more nuanced approach than the 18th-century revolutionary tactics that are bouncing around the Echo Chamber.

This is a time and place for Evolution, not Revolution.

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