A brief tutorial for The Guardian’s anonymous correspondent in Iran

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Sheda Vasseghi

If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed;
if you do, you are misinformed.
– Mark Twain (1835-1910)

In response to the unnamed Tehran Bureau correspondent of The Guardian and his/her June 17, 2015 article, the following:

In a “conceptual” post-Information Age, the anonymous correspondent from The Guardian should provide evidence in claiming that “much” of what he or she was taught in history classes about the late Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980) having been “a tin-pot dictator installed by the CIA” was “probably true.”

The Shah and Queen Farah Diba in 1960. / Popperfoto / Popperfoto/Getty Images
The Shah and Queen Farah Diba in 1960. / Popperfoto / Popperfoto/Getty Images

In writing political papers, Queens College notes “[y]ou must provide factual evidence and logical reasons for your claims, rather than simply giving opinions, yours or anybody else’s”.

Because the June 17th article by the anonymous correspondent is published in The Guardian, using a Western language, English, and Western technologies such as computers and the Internet, then there is no room for him or her to judge a secular and nationalist Pahlavi regime (1919-1979) as “too pro-western.”

Iranian stock, it should be recalled, is part of western lineage (see the definition of “Iranian stock” in “Iran: Not to be confused with Islam or the regime trying to hijack its cultural legacy” (WorldTribune.com on Dec. 3, 2014, ).

The anonymous correspondent should provide more information for verification regarding those, who were allegedly tortured by SAVAK, an intelligence agency created and developed by the U.S. and later aided by Israel during the Pahlavi regime (see Castles Made of Sand, 2010, by historian Andre Gerolymatos).

Hence, allegations against the SAVAK without evidence fall under yellow journalism, and may not be regarded as newsworthy.

The sun and the lion emblem (Shir o Khorshid) to which the anonymous correspondent refers is an ancient native symbol of Iranian identity. It is not a byproduct of “Islamic, Jewish, Turkic, and Zodiacal influence.”

Islam has no arts, and in looking at what may be regarded as the Islamic symbol based on its founders, one may assign a plain black flag.

Iranian Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism as noted by John Palmer in his July 13, 2010, article ironically by The Guardian, where Palmer writes “[p]erhaps a greater acknowledgement by Jews, Christians and Muslims of their Persian Zoroastrian inheritance would be a step to improving those relationships”.

The Turks became Persianized after invading Iranian territories during the Middle Ages and adopted Iranian names, arts, architecture, etc. Regarding “Persianized Turks,” see Islam in Process: Historical and Civilizational Perspectives (2006) edited by Johann P. Arnason et al. and Strange Parallels Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800-1830 (2009) by Victor Lieberman among a plethora of sources.

The lion and the sun is not a Turkish symbol. As for the Zodiac, in his 1968 book The Origin of the Zodiac, Rupert Gleadow writes:

“…the Persian contribution to the history of the zodiac was almost certainly the lore of the four elements. Fire, Earth, Air, Water, before Claudius Ptolemy forced them into a neat scheme, had already been associated with the twelve constellations in various irregular ways, but the original worshipers of the elements appear to have been the [Iranian Zoroastrian] Magi.

To the Greeks and Romans they were known as fire-worshippers, but in fact they considered all four elements holy, and declared that none of them must be polluted by the contact of a corpse … the four elements are not and never were material substances, as our present mechanomorphic philosophy likes to believe. They were more nearly the four principles of the physically perceptible world, namely solidity, liquidity, gaseous conditions, and light.

The other Persian influence on the history of the zodiac was Mithraic. The great popularity of astrology in the Roman Empire was due in part to Mithraism, which was derived from the old Persian religion…”

Unless the anonymous correspondent is a historian or provides historical documentation, his or her misrepresentations and misappropriations of a people without a voice are socially unjust and professionally unethical.

Where does the anonymous correspondent get the statistics for making the claim that “[n]o one ever seems to call the Shah good, they call him better than,” or “Iranians don’t seem to remember the Shah as he was, but as they need him to have been”? Such generalizations without proper references are uninformed and baseless.

In this regard, the anonymous correspondent should take note of his or her claim that “[r]evisionist history in an oppressive theocracy is not surprising” since a bit of unwarranted revisionism is committed hereto.

In responding to this skewed and irrational portrayal by an anonymous correspondent for The Guardian, it should be noted that that Pahlavi regime did not focus on women wearing “tight skirts,” but rather economic, social, and political reformations so desperately needed in a nation that had fallen from its ancient glory to foreign Anglo-Russian occupation during World War II.

If Iranians today have a sense of nationalism and hope for a secular and democratic future, it is because of the Pahlavi regime. (See “LIFE’s list of dictators: Who put the interns in charge?” published by WorldTribune.com on Sept. 11, 2011).

Iranians do not regret the Islamic regime and lament the Pahlavi era, because the Shah was “all for rock and roll and miniskirts and stiff drinks.” It’s the tanked economy and a Sharia-law based Constitution by the anti-Iranian mullahs in Tehran, stupid!

According to Steven Plaut’s Feb. 21, 2013, article “The Collapse of Iran’s Rial” during the Pahlavi era “the rial had been pegged to the dollar at a rate of 68.73 rials to the dollar…. By 1978, with the Ayatollahs in control, the rate was 71.46. Over the next twenty-one years, the rial lost 99.2 percent of its exchange value against the dollar, reaching 9430 rials to the dollar in July 1999.” (See here.) As of today, June 17, 2015, the exchange rate is 29129.04 rials to the dollar (source XE.com).

Accordingly, secularism, modernization, and social advancements are what make the Pahlavi regime uniquely Iranian and “opposite of everything the Islamic republic represents.” (See “Iran: Not to be confused with Islam or the regime trying to hijack its cultural legacy” published by WorldTribune.com on Dec. 3, 2014, ).

Sheda Vasseghi is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation and is a regular contributor to WorldTribune.com on Iran’s Affairs.

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