A one-dimensional lens

on March 4, 2009 with 0 comments » |

Here's something I gleaned from an op-ed piece by Richard Cohen on Iran.

The U.S. propensity to fixate on and demonize a country through a one-dimensional lens, with a sometimes disastrous chain of results.
This is not necessarily a US propensity, I think. People everywhere view anything different as strange and sometimes demonize this difference instead of trying to understand it. It is in this spirit that I had started my "Axes of Empathy" series, after Bush with 3 small words: Axes of Evil, planted the stereotype in our minds of millions of people as being part of an evil culture.

But, like Richard writes, beyond the rhetoric of the mullahs and even Ahmadinejad and beyond the stereotypes perpetuated often by Western politicians, (and the media!)
Iran is an un-free society with a keen, intermittently brutal apparatus of repression, but it’s far from meeting these criteria. Significant margins of liberty, even democracy, exist. Anything but mad, the mullahs have proved malleable.
...

This notion of a “post-fervor” Iran is significant. The compromises being painfully fought out between Islam and democracy in Tehran are of seminal importance. They belie the notion of a fanatical power...
But, like Richard points out... all the outrage expressed in response to his earlier article about Iranian Jews is clear indication that it is easier to buy into a "“Mad Mullah” caricature of Iran" than to recognize the diversity and vibrancy of a "changing, highly educated society" that is ALSO Iran.

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