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The Indefinite Article.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I started "Reading Lolita in Tehran" the other day because I feel this overwhelming urge to understand The Other point of view, so different from our own. Who today could be more different from myself in every way than an Iranian woman? Her life is a surreal page out of "The Handmaid's Tale" -- a comedy of errors, surely, only no one is laughing, and the theater is empty except for a man outside with a machine gun who eyes you up and down suspiciously. Must conform, must keep silent, must avoid eye contact.

A world without color. Black to hide yourself, to become invisible, to go unnoticed. It's safer this way. But how did this nightmare grow to envelop an entire society? Silence is the mind-killer. Long before the Islamic Revolution began in Iran, a seed must have been planted in the minds of a few loud and angry zealots. Their madly impassioned cries grew louder each day, a seductive tyranny that gradually drowned out the silent. Mind your own business. Don't dare to tell them what you really think. Let yourself become a victim. Over there is a band of students gathered around someone who is yelling about the decay of Islam, the corruption of the west, the whorishness of women. A lunatic, you think! No one will ever pay him any mind.

If only more people had been brave enough to disagree. But apathy numbed their tongues. And, later, fear kept them that way. Slowly, the dissidents increased in strength and number -- and one day became a force that could no longer be stopped from enforcing their horribly self-righteous tennets upon the land: self-annhilation, segregation, censorship, control.

A shocking reality that makes me wonder, how far are we from that way of life? How many twists of fate does it take for an extremist group to take over the destiny of any country? What if fundamentalists took over our country and forced us all to turn off our stereos, burn our copies of "Lord of the Flies" and "The Catcher in the Rye," unlearn to dance, and all dress the same -- and then set about trying to bring about the glory of a fiery Armageddon? Is it a leap of fiction to suggest such things? Isn't there already a religious zealot in the whitehouse and hasn't he already proved himself to be a lover of shock and awe? Someone who wears his own ignorance as his only badge of dis-honor, with a cowboy swagger, and the arrogance of someone who never questioned himself in any sort of deep and searching way? The unexamined life is not worth living, unless you are president, of course.

And where is the media through all of this? Where is the voice of dissent? Where are the heroes of eloquence and reason? I can't hear them!! That's what bothers me most of all about this election. Dick Cheney can try to blackmail the public all he wants, and what's his reward? 24-hour replay on news stations across the country. What good does it do to report insanity if you cannot produce the antidote? Fair and balanced reporting is a myth. Silently rolling tape of only the most sensational statements made by public figures does not encourage debate or sane thinking of any sort.

But then we should know better than to expect the media to be champions of either self-examination or individual rights. Who is more of a conformist than your local news anchor? Who with plastic hair and pearly teeth and expressions of the most banal nature greets us from our television sets each morning? Mainstream media strives to blend into the masses, trading idenity and imagination for what is most likely to sell copy. They might as well all be dressed in black. They might as well be silent like the rest of us.


  • Amber, I am glad that your blood is circulating.

    By Blogger pablo, at 4:58 PM  

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