Thursday, July 2, 2009

Perspective: What the Other Side Sees

My cousin and my mom warned me before I came to this house--"They're very religious..." "Their father is very much a part of the regime..." and "Are you sure you'll be comfortable?" With my American bravado I promised to grin and bear it. They're family, after all.

When asked who I voted for, I answered honestly that I voted for Moussavi, and did my best not to answer when asked why I didn't (and don't) like Ahmadinejad. Things started heating up when, in response to my hesitation, the oldest daughter answered for me that I didn't like him because others told me not to. (Fine. Still keeping my cool.) I listened to her mother tell me that there was no cheating in the election, that because Ahmadinejad really reached out to the poorer areas (i.e. handed out chickens and potatoes, I thought) he had legitimately won. I didn't bring up the findings of the Guardian Council, that in their partial review 50 cities had more than 100% of the population vote.

The real blow came after a little discussion of my disapproval of Ahmadinejad's foreign actions. I was absolutely floored when the lady of the house started badmouthing President Obama. I am in love with President Obama. I value his idealistic and innovative leadership, and I told her so. Although I could understand her suspiscion towards politicians, I tried to tell her that corruption here doesn't necessarily mean that every politician in the world is corrupt. I was annoyed by her warnings that after 10 years word would come out about all of Obama's shady dealings. What sent me over the edge, and unfortunatly and embarassingly made me raise my voice, was her accusation that Zionist lobbyists brought Obama to power!

I was furious. What made her think that? Did she read it somewhere? Was there a study published? No. She got her information from none other than the Iranian state media. This is where my volume went up. The state controls your media, I told her. They're creating a common enemy so that you're too scared to confront their dictatorial control.

I shouldn't have said it. She knew to let matters cool down after that, saying that my view was one way to look at it, sure. I listened politely as her older daughter then calmly told me of Moussavi's frailities, of his political spin and his revolution-era Islamic zeal. That's fine, and I don't doubt for a moment that Moussavi and even his wife got caught up as was explained. What I cared about when I voted was a new face for Iran, the hope that brought young people out into the streets because they thought their vote could make a difference, could change their country into something livable, something at least a tiny bit better than it is now.

Since I'm here until tomorrow morning, when I prepare for my flight home, I'm just grinning and bearing it.


  1. Sanaz, I'm proud that you did your best to express your beliefs and keep calm at the same time. Even though you are younger than the two women (the older daughter and the mother) of the home you visited, it seems that you were a good example of how women (and men, too) should express themselves: rationally, respectfully (after all, a conversation is a mutual dialogue), honestly, and intelligently. If only you were in Iran for longer, imagine all the people who'd benefit from knowing you...

  2. Hi, I'm the oldest daughter!
    I didn't know you felt like 'bearing' here,so I'm sorry and apologize for any inconvenience you felt here.just came here to make things a little clear (sorry for bad english).
    My mother really liked you just because you are her beloved relative(=sister !) 's daughter, and she's not that serious in talking as you might think or as you may be.
    so if there were anything opposite your idea about politics and of course pres.obama, I apologize.Thoughts and ideas are different.

    for that parts your said " handing chickens and potatoes ..." that's what I Meant about: "I didn't like him because others told me not to"...maybe there were some potatoes, but in fact he did spend much of his time planning for the poorer people to live better not just feeding the hungries!!...I hope you understand what I meant about planning (proposing laws and rules to the parliment ,executing and managing them by all his best)
    he spend much of his time traveling to the areas that none of the politicians and governers do that before,they even didn't know the name of the place,he did meet that people face to face, asking about their problems and really cared about... that's what I saw and that's what I want from the president of my country, to help poor people.You want that too,that's why you traveled to Kenya and helped in building that hospital, don't you?
    although there are some defficiencies and deflections, there's no absolute good in the world.but we shouldn't deny his hard working, maybe you don't like his foreign policy,but what the people inside really care about is to live better as you better is not just adding money to the rich people while others are dying of poorness or just feeling better in the sun of a beach!tehran is not the whole country and may be the oppositions are much more in tehran but what the whole counry wants is the matter and this is the democracy.
    I also believe in no cheating in the election and can answer the doubts about it,though I'm not a journalist nor a member of gaurdian council!.
    just about the thing you said : "that in their partial review 50 cities had more than 100% of the population vote."
    it's normal :
    1.the population of an area is the people who are born in that place not grown up! like your mother, my mother, myself , born in a place but live in other places and of course vote in other places!
    so this is the number of population ( and the ones who can vote)that is meant and counts in statistics.
    2.yes there were cities that more than 100% of their population voted, but these cities were either inside a state or belong to touristy areas( like the north of Iran,as you traveled there as well).for those that are inside a state it's normal for people to travel to near cities,and I should mention that schools were finished at that time and summer was beginning and people began to travel to elsewhere(and vote elsewhere).on the whole there were just 2 states that the votes were more than population: Mazandaran, Yazd.
    ( please note to reason 1 again)
    this thing always happens and it's not extraordinary... this happened in past elections and it's not illegal and cheating.
    just because in this election everything was so clear and was reported minute by minute, this let some people to abuse this obviousness and poisoned some brains and caused their death for nothing just a lie: that there was cheating.and I feel sorry for those people who lost their life on it.

  3. There were some more but it can be 4096 characters at most.

    sorry for bad english and misunderstandings and ( funny words!!)

  4. PS : there is no other side... we're all Iranians, loving our country and people and trying to live better and help each other to feel so. the basics are the same all that differs is the method and the way some think might be better.

  5. Sorry maryam, but since you asked me to visit this page, so I read what you wrote and find it absolutly, exactly 100% wrong. You know that our country is a reach country and sells billions of us dollars of oil annualy, and as a president, it is one of his duties to do help poor people, so this is not an advantage.I prefer not to write about billions of our money which are wasted, lost or ? And I prefer not to write anything about hie personality, his caracter, dnd... . What I'd like to mention is that our nation( most of them) want their freedom, they want to be free to say no to anyone they don't like and yes to anyone they do, whitout any boundary. If we got our freedom we know how to build our country. I undrestand your feeling because once I was in your position which you are now. Living in a house with parents who believe in somethings and want you and teach you to believe in them too. You're living under a glass bubble and some day you will have to break this tiny glass and chek out. you will find out yourself, but until then, just wait and observe the events, because you will need thing you see. You know how much I love uou and your mom. homan

  6. This is a very interesting discussion! And all English is fine, don't apologize.


    My friend Beth is researching blog culture for a master's class in teaching creative writing. She had to give a presentation and showed your blog to the entire class. You are getting a lot of attention (it's because you are so awesome, of course).

    I'm sorry you've had to shorten your trip. Please come to Charleston this month!!!


  7. Sanaz,

    I am proud of you for speaking up for what you believe in. Sometimes with family I know it can be hard, but if you have a strong believe in something (an idea, person, etc) don't let someone tell you otherwise. I love reading all these comments though from various perspectives. I wish I knew more about what was really going on to way in, but it is so interesting to learn how everyone feels about the election and the US politics from the outside (whether influenced and biased or not). Have a safe trip home to the US!

  8. Maryam Khanoom,

    Just wanted to let you know that the expression ‘grin and bear’ does not necessarily mean something offensive or bad. It really means that a person can handle the situation even if it is not to his/her likings (the dictionary definition is: to accept something unpleasant with good humor – unpleasant could mean something like a political argument/discussion where two sides are on the opposite sides of the political spectrum; nothing personal). Sanaz mentions this in response to other people’s warning that your family is a religious one. She just wanted to assure them that she’d be able to handle the situation. I will let Sanaz speak for herself, of course, but I am sure she did not mean any disrespect to your family.

    As for your other comments, I can only tell you this: freedom is like having a child. If you’ve never had a child you would not understand what it means to be a parent no matter how much you read or hear about it. The wonderful people of Iran have never experienced freedom. They can not possibly imagine what it is like to be free no matter how intelligent they are. You are so intelligent that I am sure you can at least notice that there is no freedom in Iran.