I ended up watching the Rick Steves travel show from Iran. My husband was bound and determined to watch it, and my choice was exile in the other room.
Steves was upfront about a few things (he had to have a guide with him at all times (shades of the old Soviet Union); women must be covered; the government promotes Israel and American hatred), his justification for the last point was scary: it’s just a response to the fact that the Iranians, during the Shah’s era, had problems with other countries trying its destiny. This little narrative line blithely overlooks the aspect of radical Islamism that mandates the death of all Jews and that sees America as the main obstacle to a worldwide Islamic takeover. By ignoring core religious tenets (and Steves did acknowledge that Iran is a theocracy without separation of church and state), Steves managed to imply that with just a little bit more “can’t we all get along,” everything’s going to be all right between us and Iran.
One thing that was interesting about the show (and this is something that someone touched upon in the comments to my earlier post) is the fact that the Iranian people seem like incredible Ameri-philes. Many of them also spoke downright colloquial English.
I am at a loss to understand how there can be such a gaping chasm between the mad mullahs at the top, and the openly friendly people at the bottom. The problem, of course, for those inclined to watch the wagging tail (the people) is that it’s the barking mouth (the mullahs) that has the nuclear teeth.
Bottom line: a foolish, that not un-interesting show. I still cling to my original point that, by granting legitimacy to the repressive government (which is what Steves’ show does by pointing out that it’s repressive, but really no big deal), Steves managed to strike a devastating blow to the dissidents within that country.
UPDATE: Just a little reminder why, contrary to Steves’ implications, Iran is not just a slightly more repressive version of the United States.