Sunday, March 06, 2005

Confessions of the Accused

Here I was-- having promised myself not to further depress anyone -- writing a happy story and I foolishly take a break in order to read an interesting post on Ledeen and wham, my whole day ruined again.

In his post, Praktike urges all "Ledeen associates" to convey some elementary message to Mr. Ledeen, and so out of curiosity I follow the link and being an avid sci-fi enthusiast, I am thinking I should really chastise my friend for his choice of words.

Dan Darling appears way too reasonable, and transparent to be tagged with that term since for me the phrase kindles memories of Shadow associates naturally leading to flashes of these sorts of creatures from Babylon 5.

And then there was this link and, well, just like I said, a whole day subsequently ruined.

I feel so despondent sometimes. I simply can't for the life of me figure out why some will not see how by pushing for certain particularly repulsive practices, they are rapidly and effectively undermining the very structure of a more civilized (and fast disintegrating) reality they so insist we should all emulate here in the Middle East!

Do they not comprehend the contradictory messages they are sending here as a result—and this myopically for some short term political gains?

Doesn't Dan really understand or does he not care about the ramifications of wanting to see the "explosive confessions" that recently aired on the Iraqi TV re-broadcasted in America? We should ask ourselves: is it really, as Dan claims with certain qualifications that he seems to have set aside quickly, "more than appropriate to air the tapes of these captured cretins over here to give the general public a better idea of just who it is that's fighting our troops"?

More pointedly, is the practice of airing those confessions on the Iraqi TV truly a harbinger of a better tomorrow to come?

Is Dan that oblivious to the lessons of history? Is Dan not aware of the historical weight on our collective consciousness of public confessions? Have we so quickly forgotten? Have we learned nothing at all?

Incidentally, how could those who claim to understand this region far better than those who live here (not an entirely undisputable proposition, mind you!) be so inattentive to the symbolism of televised public confessions in our history?

You don't even have to look here. Just look at American's past. Perhaps the example George Anastaplo has set might prove instructive.

Wouldn't we call him principled? The exemplar of integrity proper? How do we then categorize the call for televised public confessions of the accused? Even forced, perhaps? Do we know or care?

They are the accused, aren't they? Have there been any trials? Any Geneva conventions apply at all? Are there any rules a civilized society is bound by?

Sometimes, I feel as though one of the reasons I have grown to so genuinely respect Mr. Hanson despite all of the differences is that he seems to be amongst one of the last remaining honest men in the lot. He never hides his disdain and one intuitively understands that an educator's disdain has everything to do with qualities and conducts.

In Hanson's world view, one either nurtures growth or nurses recovery. Hence even some of his more cantankerous, violent and unattractive conceptualizations—that of politics of disease, cancer, impotence and such, presuppose a sense of identicalness of kind.

Not all the beautifully evocative phrases in the world, on the other hand, are enough to distract from the odious assumption of radical essential differences. And some then appear to be drawing all the wrong conclusions further sinking themselves and this region into an abyss, remaining so hell-bent, of course, on taking what's left of the Western Civilization with them.

And I feel such dread about the consequences.

Look, some of us here have been pulling our hair out trying to figure out what it is exactly we have been doing wrong so at least we don't repeat our past mistakes and thus give ourselves more of a fighting chance for a better future. And yet some out there are just so confident of their simple minded remedies.

Fluttering about like some misery butterfly attracted here one day to the stink of torment and moving on elsewhere the next.

Deedly doo dah! Look there, with Arash in jail, and our conscious in the clear because of that banner on a website--no matter that our propaganda machine appears to have been the one throwing him to the wolves-- let's just move on to the Lebanese, shall we, who are out there in force! Yippee! Proof we were right of course only if we overlook the same desire for full sovereignty so easily vilified any where else on the planet we see fit! And who knows what's next and so yes, Faster please! Go for it Ledeen, ey?

Perpetual adventure at other people's expense. We call it here terribly crudely copulating with the neighbor's organs.

And to reengage some significant insights: the difference between hollow triumphalism , Dear Nadezhda, and railing against the Putty and not feeling euphoric has everything to do with real emotional attachments to the place. Some can move on to saving some three legged, green hermaphroditic Antarctic bug for all they care, and some will still be left dealing with the Putty within and cleaning up or being affected by all the aftereffects of callousness if not outright malice.

Look, if one doesn’t have the luxury of postulating a radically different "them" to begin with; that is, if one starts with a relatively normal "us" who despite all the limitations that might be inherent to the life in a particular geographical, cultural and religious milieu, could sill have ended up with a more agreeable social construct, then figuring out the exact nature of all those wrong detours along the way becomes all the more urgent.

And not repeating the mistakes one knows to have been mistakes yet another.

There is a connection, after all, between history, culture, and the prevailing social mores and customs, our political choices and subsequently that particular regime societies end up with, don't you think?

So forgive some of us for not being moved by the sort of rhetoric which oscillates between a crude demonology one day punctuated by all the silly exaggerated, empty complements and giddy exhortations the next.

Real nasty, weren't they, those Moslem Saudi and Kuwaiti brutes always abusing their foreign Asian maids and other workers? Apoplectic fit one day, and mum's the word the next. Iranian youths as mobs one day and oh so very freedom loving the next.

And just why is that, exactly?

This again another difference due to different intentions. The desire for destabilizing the enemy vs. wanting to build a better future.

Once this regime is gone, some out there could care less what happens here next. No threats equal no interest. No matter how blood soaked the experience, no matter how dysfunctional the society, or how many drug addicts or abused women and children or broken homes and dismembered bodies and tormented souls or blood thirsty miscreants in our midst as a result, some will be simply all too happy to move on tagging all the subsequent developments as the good news the lazy reporters love to ignore.

Mission Accomplished and Next! Wasn't it a mess to begin with and now it is a non-threatening mess, right? Oh, well. That's life.

But suppose we did not want to start with a Ledeen assumption of a radically different "them"-- all the "skullduggery" (his term) in the world not withstanding.

Suppose--unlike Ledeen who seems to start with a notion of Iran (or perhaps even the entire "Islamic" world, who knows?) as a place where "treachery has long been the national sport and superstition the bedrock of political analysis, [with] "people [busy] casting runes and reading entrails"-- we started with the relatively normal beings, well as normal as any human being could get these days, who with the best of intentions and relatively judiciously, had come to settle on a series of measures and conventions which in point of fact ended up exactly where Ledeen seems to have started from to begin with i.e. a land where " treachery has long been the national sport and superstition the bedrock of political analysis, with people casting runes and reading entrails."

Mostly concessions for the sake of argument, of course.

How then to account for the developments? What did we do wrong? Where did we take the wrong turns? What behaviors do we need to alter? And here is where we part company.

You know, I really don't have any interest whatsoever in vilifying Ledeen. I do think though that he is fundamentally wrong in just about everyone of his more significant interventions. I give you an example of one of his more memorable gems that makes me furious each and every time:

We should have encouraged the shah to fight for his throne. Instead, we wrapped ourselves in the mantle of political correctness, warned him about the use of violence, insisted that his troops use rubber bullets, demanded that he permit freedom of assembly… Then, as today, we told ourselves that it was their country, not ours, […] Why should he get his hands dirty by fighting the mobs in the streets?

Just why is it that he doesn't want to understand that what we have here today is the natural outcome of the murderous and inane conduct for upward of twenty five years of the very same man he still wishes he could have seen butcher more of our bravest citizens (mobs, ey?)

Isn't it an absolute irony that he can keep up the charade of being the revolutionary?

We recently had the anniversary of the 79 revolution here. For days the TV was running old documentaries of the era leading to that event. And I, a grown man, found myself crying uncontrollably again.

Such hopes and promises and so much bloodshed and suffering.

And I fully understand that Mr. Ledeen is simply writing about those events and that there are some difference between writing and having acted up. But the images here were infuriating. Even the "simple" stuff.

Old soldiers in full military gear—four star generals to be exact, with all the pomp and rows and rows of medals on their uniforms breaking in half, bending down to kiss the hand of our omniscient little father, "the King of Kings," as he called himself.

Do you not think when the dignity of men so toyed with in public, and when the integrity of officers in uniform and other citizens so reduced just to satisfy the vanities of one incredibly weak, fallible mortal, the ruler to follow would have any qualms staking claim to the souls of his subjects—all equal citizens, no doubt?

If Mr. Ledeen hadn't been so busy facilitating the delivery of cakes and weapons to our ruling clergy some years later, when he was last spreading freedom and liberty Ledeen style in our midst, he might have noticed the long procession of our youth--some no older than what Praktike appears to be now, on Iranian TV, with pictures in newspapers, confessing to their "misconduct," having named names, and recanting their beliefs and supplicating for their lives and begging forgiveness in public for having been the instruments of foreign conspiracies and interventions.

All redux of what was done to some of the bravest soldiers and most dignified the vainglorious "King of Kings" had in his armies--the ones who chose to stay on instead of fleeing with life and money--to face the consequences of their acts. And even this latter itself a redux of what the Shah himself had done to those courageous enough to critique his arbitrary exercise of power when the likes of Amir Taheri were happy enough being the "Emissary of the Apparatus."

But in the 80's, most were mere kids, mind you, innocent, inexperienced in politics and perhaps only briefly flirting with some passing political persuasion after years of authoritarian rule, and subsequently again abused, broken, and confessing to being agent provocateurs!

Just around the same time some of their other classmates were busy killing and being killed in the battlefields of that needlessly protracted war, walking on land mines and later being gassed to death or maimed for ever--in part curtsey of the foreign allies of Saddam.

And all the smug smirks of those who congratulated themselves euphorically on a successful dual containment policy, remember?

Do you know what "Death with Dignity" --Iranian style--came to mean among some activist here and abroad? The right of youth in prime of life to die --a quick death-- on account of their beliefs and political activities without being forced to publicly humiliate themselves, without betraying friends and companions and without being driven insane by torture.

There is a woman I know out there close to where Dan and Praktike might be living, beautiful and sexy and neurotic as hell. A run of the mill immigrant found meandering almost anywhere on our planet these days that might even have annoyed some of you. You would only learn about her demons if you stepped into her bath one day. A dozen or so wash cloths, each for a distinct part of her body. And what, I ask you, might give one that lasting sense of dirt?

So please, spare me the false piety and good riddance!

I ask again: do you intend really to replicate our experiences there? And can you then call yourselves the great liberators employing the same methods our present tormentors are infamous for! And have you seriously reflected upon the consequences for the society you so cherish?

And to belabor the point here again, from day one, in terms of the show trials and public confessions and forced recantations, this regime was following the precedent set for by the "King of Kings"--the compliant ally of the United States, the man Ledeen wanted to see fight for his throne and shoot more of our citizens, and the man whose son, Ahura's buddy Jr., Mr. Ledeen seems to want to peddle here yet again.

From where I am sitting, far from some Wind of Change, the breeze I detect carries the miasma of the same old repulsive dumpster best left untouched.

And I am still not finished with this particular rant. Not just yet anyways.

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