The first time Code Pink went on a tour of Iranian state ministries, as well as shopping in Tehran’s magnificent bazaar, I got all outraged and ended up writing up my rage. A website published it.
Medea Benjamin emailed me with her phone number for me to call. To straighten things up, I guess. I was in Vietnam at the time, and an international phone call would take some logistical work; but quite frankly I simply didn’t want to talk to somebody who had just been led around various Iranian government ministries by a guy who had written a hatchet job on me, published by some western websites. Additionally, I was paranoid-sure her phone would be hacked by the Iranian state. Better paranoid and safe. You can never be too paranoid when you’re Iranian. So, I made up excuses and never called.
This time around, when Code Pink went on another tour of various state ministries and shopping, I thought to myself, “Is it really so shocking that a group of westerners, feminist and peace-loving, would visit ministries of a state that jails women’s rights activists — don’t forget labor rights activists, students’ rights activists, free speech rights activists, environmental activists, minority rights activists, people dancing to Pharrell’s song, Happy, and the list goes on — a state that, to make things even sweeter, is wrapping up a successful campaign of participation in the incineration of a half a million Syrians?”
For the past eight years, we’ve been reading all kinds of twisted and deranged proto-fascist propaganda by western and eastern ‘leftists’ pontificating on Syria, in defense of the ‘moderate’ Assad, without even the most basic qualifying credentials; not even linguistic skills of a second language enough to go through Arabic language literature produced by the leftist and socialist activists in Syria, nor with the slightest intellectual curiosity to even seek the valuable insights and historical knowledge of Syrian political prisoners, leftists, socialist intellectuals and other genuinely democratic forces and activists.
In view of such immense disaster of a significant part of the worldwide left siding with an outright tyranny as huge as that of Assad’s, is a mere ‘people’s diplomatic’ trip by Code Pink to Iran really that outrageous?
I mean … C’mon!
I calmed myself down, put things in perspective.
Still, it nagged me. Should we not expect them to see whose hands they were shaking in Iran? But, then again, can you blame them for not noticing the stain on their hands after the handshakes? They know what they’re doing. They’re not kids. They’re not green neophytes. They’re building resumes. Who can fault them for that? It’s a new political economy, and the invisible political hand forces you to make your political capital in strange places.
Besides, being pro-Iranian is fashionable; at least, in certain circles. Iranians totally understand. A western feminist peace organization has to plan tours; they’re just spreading peace, love and understanding. Soon, maybe they’ll even sell tickets for their tours. Who knows? Here’s a pitch:
“Pink Tickets to I-Ran! Pink Tickets to I-Ran! We take you on tours of high ministries and the best shopping experience. If you hate those other theocracies in the region (nudge, nudge, wink, wink; Israel, Saudi Arabia), Iran’s the place for YOU! Come Oooooooon Down!
“It’s the in place. If you’re radical enough, and if you like things postmodern, then you really want to get in with the theocracy trending up. Do you want to escape from all the craze of the up-to-the-minute barrage of useless noise on the social media? Iran’s the place for YOU: social media are banned!”
Of course, our citizens being among the reasonably smart on this earth, they go around the restrictions. But, still, it’s the future of theocracy; there are elections and a voted-in parliament that actually debates bills and passes laws. The parliament can be overridden by the Pope-man dude if need be, but hey … If you’re the outcast, the notoriously moody, the one standing up to the jocks and the meatheads and without a distinct direction, Iranian state is the thing to give you direction.
I decided to think like it was a bad 80’s Hollywood B-movie, based on a high school type of theme. Nerds against jocks. And to defeat jocks back home, nerds have to gang up with butchers. So bad, it’s almost good.
‘Almost’, because of that bit with the political prisoners with ideals exactly like Code Pink’s, who get jailed, tortured and at times killed with impunity. But, of course, these westerners, being polite and observant of the local culture, had to play it civil with the hosts. Couldn’t ask to visit those same-thinking jailed comrades, had to sit at dinner table with the torturers. We understand. Their comrades in jail, but they had a good meal, and stuck it to the jocks back home. We can be sure that the jocks back home will think twice now before they do anything rash.
To paraphrase Philip Marlowe, “I let that one hang there to dry in its own air”.
I sat there, sighed, shook my head; had another shot of JD and cursed in my head. I won’t repeat the obscenities. I wasn’t going to write another rage piece documenting outrage upon outrage visited on my brothers and sisters trapped in their misery and social suffocation. People have Google, don’t they? “Iranian regime’s atrocities against Iranian people”.
What’s the use?
And again, I had to put things in perspective. I mean, look. The Environmental Protection Agency of the hugest economy of the world, the baddest imperialist power determining future path of much of humanity, is intentionally destroying the environment to its maximum capability; the Education secretary is destroying the education system to the same degree and intensity; the Interior Department is destroying the interior landmass along with the oceans and waterways, giving it all to mining and fossil fuel concerns; the Energy secretary is deploying the worst energy policy available, furthering subsidies to zombie industries, instead of what the marketplace is clearly indicating as the more cost-efficient alternatives, meaning he’s not only irrational (nay, insane) but even anti-market in a system that keeps bleating about the virtues of the invisible hand of the market; the Housing and Urban Development sleeper guy is destroying the housing conditions and housing opportunities of the most vulnerable; the Health and Human Services is deploying every possible obfuscation and evasion in order to destroy what’s left of any humane services available to the citizens.
Let’s see. Who else? Oh, yeah, the person at the head of the FCC, the agitator for the whole pie to be given to telecom giants … what’s his name … I used to know, escapes me right now. It doesn’t matter. He’s giving away everything in his jurisdiction that can be given away.
What else? Oh, of course: The Treasury given to who-else-but Mr. “I pick your pocket in broad daylight, smile to your face while my wife pisses on your leg, and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it” (quadruple, raised middle fingers at the public).
Meanwhile, the climate catastrophe has gone past the point of no return.
I’m not even going to mention the Orange-head’s atrocities, and his brand of spreading racism against Muslims and immigrants, spearheading white supremacy, and the resultant hate crimes market share rising dramatically over the past few years.
With all that going on, what the hell is the point of writing an outrage piece on Code Pink and a bunch of their friends taking a trip to an exotic location for some networking?
So, yeah, this time around when they went to Iran to visit state ministries and go shopping, I didn’t vent much. I didn’t express outrage like it was something truly outrageous. It wasn’t that outrageous. Really. Much bigger outrage is normal now. That’s the dreadful thing about our time. Plus, I don’t have the literary command to go down that sinkhole of an experience of pleading for reasonableness when only outrage is called for. I didn’t write furiously to call them enablers building their careers on this Titanic of a planet, arranging networks while the ship’s going down.
I just wrote this.