Remember all those dewey-eyed socialists who went to the Soviet Union in the 1930s and came back gushing about how swell Uncle Joe was? No, you probably don’t, because not that many people my age will even know whom I mean by “Uncle Joe” and the ones 10 or God forbid 20 years younger will be scratching their heads saying, “The What Union?” On the other hand, you’re reading my blog, so my cynical thoughts about the death of historical awareness don’t apply to you. My apologies, but the number of news stories I’ve read in the last couple of days about self-important but chronically ignorant people saying and doing asinine things has put me in one of those moods.
Friday morning my local paper, The Santa Fe New Mexican, always excellent fodder for the absurd, ran a story entitled “Dixon couple visit Iran as ‘citizen diplomats'” about Hank Brusselback and Gaia Mika, who spent two weeks touring Iran with a group called the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
“FOR believes in diplomacy and dialogue, in reaching out to the humanity in all people, especially those demonized and labeled as enemies,” the story quotes a recent FOR news release as saying. “It is precisely because Iran has been depicted as ‘evil’ that FOR is traveling to Iran at this time.”
Ah, yes, the ironic quotation marks. That means we should picture the do-gooders at FOR making little air quotes with their fingers and rolling their eyes at the stupidity of George W. Bush and all his hopelessly deluded minions who think Iran is “evil” — or for that matter who think that “evil” as a genuine concept even exists. Well, except as it applies to Haliburton, of course, which really is evil, without air quotes.
But back to the enlightening revelations of our citizen diplomats. Gaia Mika was pleasantly surprised to find, for example, that laws about women’s dress were not always strictly enforced, noting that in cosmopolitan Iranian cities, “many women wear beautiful headscarves and they’re pretty far back on their head and you can see a lot of their hair, so even though there’s a law that says your hair shouldn’t show, it’s not enforced right now.” Isn’t that reassuring? While the anti-Bush tour group FOR is watching, the Iranian police aren’t grabbing girls who show their hairlines and giving them forty lashes. Equality of the sexes has come to Iran at last. “We are the world…”