What Has Changed
by CORRESPONDENT in Tehran
11 Jun 2010 11:36
As the anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election in Iran approaches, media outlets are figuring out what they will say in the absence of any sensational street showdowns. From what I understand, the primary question they'll be trying to answer is "What has changed?"
Iran seems to hold special importance for the international media, repeatedly placing among the top world stories on sites such as Google News. This was the case last year for almost two months until Michael Jackson's death grabbed the world's attention. Iran offers, as it long has, a host of issues for the media to feast on -- the oil trade, nuclear development, agitation with Israel, human rights.
So what exactly has changed? In answer, I would like to turn to the man in the mirror, as it were. I submit that I, myself, have changed.
Some time prior to the election, you might have referred to me as a regime apologist. You might very well have gasped or even walked out on me as I would contest any criticism of Iran. My only regret is that I didn't capitalize on my position by joining the many like-minded folks at Press TV. I did, however, play out a similar role on a weekly Skypecast I hosted, Anything Iran.
Anything Iran, broadcast during my lunch break, would attract an audience of just over a hundred listeners at a time. As the show's name suggests, I took it upon myself to try and answer questions about the country, dispelling misperceptions, tackling anything from the
familiar political topics listed above to the cost of living, how to get around, and what sort of food we eat. My Western listeners were regularly surprised to hear that I have Jewish and Christian friends in Iran, and those in the East were often surprised by the discussion of employment-related matters.
The debate would heat up when I was confronted with questions like "Why does Iran want to wipe Israel of the map with nuclear weapons?" In the process of addressing such questions, I would routinely counter them with comments about double standards, a type of "people in glass houses" response. And to think that I'd not even benefited from Press TV training.
When I see footage of Ahmadinejad now, responding to questions about domestic problems by throwing the questions back, like any experienced politician, I'm reminded of those Skypecasting days. I now see that the trumping of hypocrisy with hypocrisy is like the violence in the streets -- it resolves nothing for the people.
So what has changed? The change for me came neither with the election itself nor the initial thought that it might not have been entirely fair, but with the government's reaction to the subsequent protests. The nation's grievances were met with shocking violence, which only increased suspicions that things were not as they had been presented. After years of hearing stories of injustice and silently rationalizing them, I now have my own stories to contribute at the dinner table. I no longer desire to play the role to which I was once so committed. This is what has changed.
Photo by Farhod Family.
Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau