Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2002 / 3 Adar, 5762
The Great Iranian Hoax
York Times carried an amazing account of rallies in
celebration of the 23rd anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. The account,
which runs along the same lines as an earlier piece by the BBC, is so
full of revolutionary zeal and enthusiasm that one wonders Really!
what possesses these people. The journalists, that is, not the
demonstrators. We know what possesses them, all too well.
The largest estimate
I can find of the crowd in Tehran is about 300,000, and while that may
seem like a huge number to a Western journalist, it is appallingly small
by historical standards. Over the years, the regime could generally count
on a million or so enthusiasts, but the last time a million people demonstrated
in Tehran it was to demand an end to the regime, just a few months ago.
Yesterday's mob was an insult to the regime, a further demonstration of
its weakening grip on the Iranian people.
The story is even
clearer when you realize that the regime knew in advance that it would
have to work hard to fill the available space, and it pulled out all the
stops to get bodies in place. The secret police, the Basiji, went around
threatening students and teachers, warning of dire consequences if they
didn't show up. All government employees, and all members of the armed
forces were ordered to participate. The poor were told that if they didn't
celebrate, their welfare would be cut off. Thousands of buses dragged
people from the countryside to the city.
And still the best
they could come up with was about a third of the usual turnout. That should
have been the headline, and that is a big story.
But the Times
and the BBC played it as a triumph for the regime, and a humiliation for
the United States, as if the people of Iran had spontaneously rallied
to their ayatollahs and mullahs in the face of George W. Bush's dreadful
definition of the Islamic Republic as a country ruled by an unelected
elite that represses the desire for freedom of the Iranian people. But
Bush's definition is perfect, and yesterday's events verified it.
If the Times
and the BBC wanted some really interesting aspect of the rally, all they
had to do was listen to Radio France Internationale, which found a grim
spectacle: a signup table for would-be martyrs. I suppose there was a
big banner over it, "anyone who wants to blow himself up, sign here."
But not even the
French could tell us how many volunteers they
JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character
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© 2001, Michael Ledeen