A blatantly fraudulent election may have been the spark that ignited Iran’s current rebellion, but don’t be misled: Iran has never had free and fair elections.
I was in Iran 30 years ago for the first elections held under the gaze of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the dour, militant leader of Iran’s Islamist revolution. I was a young and inexperienced foreign correspondent unconvinced by older and more experienced foreign correspondents that Khomeini and his followers intended to transform Iran into a freer and more just society, rather than one that would be brutally oppressive at home and threatening abroad.....
The truth is Khomeini and his followers were never freedom fighters. “Don't listen to those who speak of democracy,” Khomeini said in March 1979. “They all are against Islam. . . . We will break all the poison pens of those who speak of nationalism, democracy, and such things.”
Khomeinists believe in the strictest possible interpretation of the Koranic injunction to “command right and forbid wrong.” It was with that in mind that, in 1979, the drinking of alcohol was forbidden, not just for Muslims, but also for infidels in Iran. I still have the memo issued by the management of the hotel at which I and most other foreign journalists lodged, warning of unpleasant consequences should we ignore the prohibition.
More to the point: If “commanding right and forbidding wrong” is your religious and political obligation, what do you do when Iranians go to the polls and vote wrongly, instead of rightly? Apparently, you hand the election to the “right” candidate, in the current instance to Ahmadinejad, including in his opponent’s home region, and without bothering to count millions of paper ballots....
Over the years that followed, Khomeini’s revolution failed, and not only by liberal democratic standards — more people executed, imprisoned, and driven into exile than under the shah, egregious violations of human rights, sponsorship of terrorism, Holocaust denial, and genocidal threats. It failed also by Khomeini’s standards.
Just as the Russian Revolution and the social engineering of Lenin and Stalin did not create a “New Soviet Man,” so Iran’s Islamic Revolution has not succeeded in creating a new Islamist Man — one who wants nothing more than to obey Iran’s religious ruling class and fight for the imposition of Islamic law around the world.
This is what Iran’s demonstrators are demonstrating. They are waging a revolution for hope that has been denied and change that, it seemed, would never come. President Obama’s moral support should be loud and clear.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Cliff May at NRO.