Tuesday, February 20, 2007

At Best Illiterate, At Worst Criminally Ignorant

While weblog has provided many with an instrument of expressing themselves, internet has provided them with an audience. Thus there is no surprise that we are witnessing forming a new group of young people that might think of themselves as intellectuals. The young intellectuals are either former journalists or students. They either are graduate students or work in a profession and some have established a new business that others refer to it as: “human rights business.” They write, they talk and they analyze. In media they are referred to as Iranian activists, Iranian student leaders and former journalist.

There is no standard here, in some cases a few have been troublemakers and nuisance back home, some other have been imprisoned and came abroad during their leaves and in most cases they just left Iran like many other young Iranians to pursue better opportunities or to continue their studies. Few actually were threatened or were in trouble.

From hundreds of blogs written regularly by Iranians abroad, few deal with Iran’s issues theoretically or pragmatically. Most are limited to personal memories of individuals or authorities. Most writings often include personal attacks or insolent words. Bloggers and self acclaimed intellectuals argue over concepts such as feminism and sexual orientation of their readers. A good deal of writing is consumed by self-justification. Few here or there actually offer an insight or a solution. To the best of this author’s knowledge few has offered anything more than gossips or common prejudice. One wonders what would be gained by these.

While bloggers use names such as Mandela and Gandhi, they never offer any historical information about their political careers or strategies. They rarely have shared with their audience the foundations of a democratic society, examples of judiciary mechanisms or the history of civil rights campaigns and women rights campaigns in other countries. The history and lessons of history are completely absent. For bloggers history begins with them and ends with them.

For them being right or wrong is not defined by behavior or achievements, it is defined by beliefs. Thus there are some right things that must be done under any circumstances and some wrong things that must be avoided at all costs. To top this all this new generation of Iran’s intelligentsia is utterly and gallingly na├»ve. A great example is their reaction to documentaries on Iran that usually draw a black and dark image of Iran, the most recent one is the case of Canadian TV show on Iran’s homosexuals.

While this show in an extravagant example of prejudice and mercenary journalism draws a rather ugly picture from Iran, some bloggers just shrugged their shoulders and said: “these are facts, facts must be told!” No one pays attention to the immediate danger of war, or military action against Iran. No one mentions that in reality Iran has been singled out in the region. No one asks why there is not such a documentary about Egypt or Saudi or even Turkey! No one thinks that such programs never say all the facts, including the one that Iran’s public has much more pressing concerns right now.

One wonders, one indeed wonders what the gain of these stories is. It seems these bloggers not only neglect to learn from their own mistakes but also forget 1980’s. Why they don’t look at history books about Iran in the libraries. Do they know that in every book about Iran-Iraq war published before 1991, Iraq use of chemical weapons had not been mentioned? Even those that mentioned it added that it is according to Iranian accusations! Only after Operation Desert Storms, every single book mentions Saddam’s crimes matter-of-factly.

These are facts too, there are many more about Iran. To sit in a safe corner in Canada, the United States or Europe, when bombs are being prepared to target Tehran and shrug shoulders to escape one’s responsibility is not a devotion to “telling facts”. It just shows an intelligentsia increasingly detached from realities in Iran, ignorant of consequences of their actions and illiterate of historical facts and realities. It is sad to see like 1970’s Iranian intellectuals are still a self-absorbed bunch with no idea of the realities that their people face in their daily lives basing all their claims to intelligence on their presumed righteousness. If this is not criminal ignorance, then what it is?

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