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Monthly Archive: April 2006
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April 27, 2006

"Nuke 'Em" Not!
Golbarg Bashi  [info|posts]
Hiroshima victim

A Hiroshima Survivor.

As also mentioned in the previous post, an American online company named "CafePress" has now on sale items as varied as t-shirts, teddy bears, baby clothes, underwear, stamps, caps etc with a "NUKE ‘EM" logo with an atomic mushroom cloud on a map of Iran.

Their new “logo” not only trivialises human death and destruction, but helps shift public opinion towards an ipso facto dehumanisation of non-American life, especially that of the people in the Middle East and of Muslims among young Americans. It is also a dishonour to all victims of nuclear arms, the millions perished in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, Halabcha and Falluja.

I feel utterly sad and almost sick to my stomach that I had to write to an American company in 21st century, a company in a country, which wishes to export its "democratic" ideals with cluster bombs around the globe, to tell them that ‘Nuking’ Iran, or any other nation is not a joking matter, but a murderous and inhumane act. I believe that it should be illegal to trivialise human life (whether it is the Twin Tower victims in NYC or innocent Iranian and Iraqi lives) and glorify mass destruction.

Let it be very clear to the American public that any US attack on Iran, will have deadly results on the region for generations to come. An article arguing against this attack has just been published in Asia Times, which I would recommend reading.

I urge all Iranian and non-Iranian anti-war activists to write to this company and express their horror over their cruel and detestable “merchandise” and demand their immediate and unconditional removal. We must make a concerted effort to mobilize massively to boycott all the merchandise of this or any other company that trivializes human life. We all need to be more active in our local anti-war groups and act collectively. Last night I personally had the pleasure of attending an excellent anti-war teach-in at NYU in New York City.

We cannot let any company executives or Presidents of any country (be it Iran or the US) set back our ideals of freedom and a nuclear-free world.

'Nuking' Euphoria
Babak Seradjeh  [info|posts]

NukeThong.jpg A friend informs me that

An American web site (CafePress) is offering T-shirts, baby clothes, mugs and teddy bears with "Nuke Iran" logos. If you have the time, please write to them and tell them what you think...
This is particularly distressing. I think we need to act to stop such ugly displays. It doesn't matter what you think of the Iranian nuclear crisis and/or the American response. It is beyond question that 'nuking' by the US is both a terrible strategic mistake and a humanitarian disaster.

Although CafePress may not be responsible for the design itself, they are still accountable for (at least providing the means for) spreading such despiteful items and hateful ideas. I think it is imperative on all those with a loving feeling about the people or even the land of Iran and neighboring regions to do the least they could to stop the spread of such venomous ideas.

I wrote the following e-mail to the CafePress who provide the venue for individual sellers to sell their designs. If you don't have the time to compose an email yourself, I suggest that you use this text as a template or just copy-past and send it to the addresses listed below. Don't forget to sign at the bottom, and spread the word!!


To: "CafePress" <info@cafepress.com, pr@cafepress.com>
Subject: Nuke EM' Design

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing to draw your attention to the items with the Nuke EM' logo and a nuclear mushroom cloud on a map of Iran, on display on your web site at the following URL:

http://www.cafepress.com/buy/iran/-/pv_design_details/pg_2/id_12129373/opt_/fpt_fXBa__DB___CXDc_Pz-X_7O__Dc/c_1/hlv_t

and to express my horror and disgust to see your online store is selling or providing the venue for selling such a clearly inhumane and hateful design that glorifies human death and destruction. This design not only spreads support for a distressing threat to the Iranian lives and others living in a wide region, it is a disgrace to the American dignity and just support of freedoms around the world. I feel sad that I need to remind anyone in the 21st century that "Nuking" a country is not a matter of passing entertainment, but an act of mass destruction in which millions of lives are directly affected with deadly results.

I strongly urge your executives to act sensibly and take the items with this design off your online shopping windows immediately and unconditionally.

Sincerely,

April 20, 2006

Hundreds of Elections A Day, Part II
Guest Auhtor: Mehrdad Hefazi

Figure2-Hefazi.jpg Read Part 1 here!

The Iranian Personality

Whatever its etiology is, the personality dominating our society has long proved to be incompatible with prosperity and progress in the modern world. To address this issue, I believe we should first stop accusing others, be they our own officials or foreign politicians, of being responsible for all the failures and frustrations of our nation. We should, instead, recognize the undesirable character traits which have led to our downfall and try to replace them by more constructive healthy ones. To get an overview of the peculiar personality traits that prevail in our society, one can just observe the stark contrast that exists between the driving habits of Iranians and those in more developed countries. In Iran, almost no one can tolerate having another car in front of him/her. Driving regulations of any kind are considered a nuisance, which reflects the general attitudes towards restriction. Finding ways to bypass traffic laws is interpreted as the ultimate sign of genius and courage. Achieving the slightest personal advantage justifies compromising the good of all other drivers. Last but not least, in the case of an accident, the only language that seems to be understood is physical aggressiveness prior to any dialogue; forget an apology or a compromise.

Iranian driving style may be an exaggerated example. However, a tinge of all these detrimental habits is evident in our overall personal and social behavior. Even those who are critical of the current situation in Iran consciously or subconsciously follow the main stream so as to survive in such a malfunctioning system. That is why, I hold that any bright future prospect is far out of reach unless the whole system is reset and a different mentality dominates our society.

Can we, however, change this mentality and reshape our national character to ensure a more promising future? Is it possible for humans to stop a vicious cycle that has been impairing their country’s character over generations? I believe so, but this will be neither as simple nor as quick as we expect of other changes in life. There is a famous adage stating that disciplining children needs to be started from the previous generation. This is actually based on the fact that, to successfully bring up children, one needs well-disciplined parents and teachers who themselves have been raised in a healthy and constructive atmosphere. The transformation of a whole society’s nature, thus, requires a systematic and comprehensive long-term approach which works hand in hand with the discipline of children in families, the education of students at schools, and the promotion of human rights and mutual respect by all members of a society.

Instead of passively waiting for a savior to miraculously rescue our society, we should collectively foster positive traits; characteristics such as honesty, diligence, composure, discretion, and courtesy, which are the building blocks of a prosperous civilized nation.

A Practical Approach

From this moment, let us start with ourselves. When driving, swear not to run a yellow light, no matter how late you are. When standing in a line, respect the other’s turn. Similarly, if someone tries to cut into the line, never remain indifferent; assertively object to this behavior even though you may not be the one violated. At home, instead of lecturing your kids about moral values, become a role model by personally striving to live out these virtues. If you are a teacher, reward students for their creativity, not just their memorization skills; encourage the open expression of opinions and mutual respect; motivate pupils to constructively cooperate rather than frantically competing with each other.

By our daily actions, at the university, at work, at a restaurant, or in a cinema, almost everywhere, we participate in a type of election to choose the path towards our nation’s prosperity or decline. The results may not be readily available, but when they appear they will have such a profound long-lasting effect which revolutionizes our entire social, economic, and political system.

Mehrdad Hefazi is a General Practitioner and a graduate of Mashhad School of Medicine and Mashhad NODET highschool (SAMPAD).

April 17, 2006

Hundreds of Elections A Day, Part I
Guest Auhtor: Mehrdad Hefazi

Figure1-Hefazi.jpg A Society's Mentality: An Underrepresented Factor

In reviewing some of the articles posted on FToI about the prospect of recent political changes in Iran, I have been given the unpleasant impression that, like many of their compatriots, the Iranian students who are studying abroad and have had the opportunity to analyze Iran's political situation from outside the country, are also falling into the trap of overemphasizing the role of a few media-attracting political figures in the prosperity of their nation. Although I cannot help but appreciate the genuine concern of the authors, many of whom are my old friends and classmates, I believe they have failed to recognize the strong relationship that exists between the social and cultural background of a people and their political insight. The mentality dominating a society exerts an effect stronger than on just approving or disapproving the policies initiated by politicians. It is, in fact, responsible for molding the characteristics and attitudes of the politicians in the first place and is reflected not only in the political changes brought about through elections, but also in all economic, social, and technological progress a country makes in its struggle for a better future.

Looking Back at History

When recalling past historical events, people tend to attribute the triumphs and failures of their nation to the governing capabilities of the leaders in power at that time. Although such a simplified explanation may suffice for the developments happening in a short period of time, the rise and fall of civilizations is more complex and, thus, requires a more comprehensive interpretation. What actually caused the mighty Persian Empire to dissolve after having ruled the world for centuries? Was it all the last dynasty's fault? Has this downhill trend started and continued until today solely because of a succession of incompetent rulers who have come to power since the Qajars? By admitting that a lackluster Iran has emerged due to the absence of capable leaders, we have to answer the question why no successful leader has appeared in the modern epoch even though there were plenty of them in our glorious ancient times. Has it all been due to our bad luck? Or was it mere chance that our country has not been able to regain its dignity whereas countries such as Germany and Japan could flourish so quickly after being brought down to their knees in two devastating world wars?

The Psychology of National Character

The answer to the above questions lies deep in human nature and a concept identified as "national character"—dominant personality traits of a country. Although when first introduced in the works of 19th century historians, this idea was based on little more than prejudice, a fresh look at history shows that the description of national character is not entirely baseless. The personality, cultural traits, and psychological characteristics of people vary from region to region, as well as from generation to generation. Just as societies can be distinguished by their physical characteristics, there is also a "geography of thought and behavioral features" which may help explain historical processes.

Long-lasting character traits have turned out to be a basis for the prosperity of nations, influencing not only people’s political insight, but also their ideological beliefs, cognitive skills, and social behavior. All of these are, in fact, a platform for shaping the social and political affairs of a society, including the characteristics and administrative approaches of its leaders at every level. Whether or not people are directly involved in choosing their officials, those who rule at the top are generally those who best match public opinion and the dominant mentality of society. Political figures are, in fact, no more than labels for naming different historical periods and social circumstances.

An explanation for the twists and turns of history emerges from the fact that human nature has been constantly evolving just as human physical features have been modified according to the environment. The evolutionary changes in the psychological traits of people are responses to selective social pressures that have worked on the human personality over many generations. Personality is heritable and the genes responsible for a specific character trait can be targets of selection in a population where there is a greater demand for that characteristic. As a result, societies have been constantly reshaped throughout history with cultural traits that once dominated a society being completely replaced by new ones. While countries which possess the most desirable dominant personality for the situation at hand find themselves on the right track towards prosperity, those with unfavorable traits will lag behind and end up blaming external factors as obstacles to their progress.

Read Part 2 here!

Mehrdad Hefazi is a General Practitioner and a graduate of Mashhad School of Medicine and Mashhad NODET highschool (SAMPAD).

April 07, 2006

 Satire 
A Week of Technological Miracles
Guest Auhtor: Omid Paydar

tornado-frg-1999.jpg I remember when I was a child during the Iran-Iraq war, our religious instruction teacher at school would go into detail on how an Iranian paramilitary fighter (basiji) would fire just one Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG7) and with god's grace (talk about remote-controlled), five Iraqi tanks would explode. I never thought it would take our country this many years to develop a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV).

Monday: Iran tests a super dooper radar-evading missile. The missile can avoid any Western radars and hit multiple targets at the same time and can be characterized as a MIRV. Particularly it was designed to play hide and seek with the Israeli Arrow missile. It is said that the missile also sends out wireless emails calling for the destruction of Israel and denying the holocaust.

Tuesday: Iran successfully test-fired a super-modern "flying boat". In addition to fishing in peace time, the flying boat can be used to attack enemy units in and around the Persian Gulf. The super-modern (in case someone thinks this is just a flying raft) flying "ghost" boat cannot be picked up by radar and comes in metallic silver and green colors. Exercise spokesman Rear Admiral Mohammed Ibrahim Dehkani asserted that "the very fast boat which can loose enemy rockets while rising above water was not picked up by any radar (certainly not by our own)." According to official sources, the boat itself is capable of rising above the surface of the water and is armed with missiles which are able to home in on their target with great accuracy even while the ship is moving. It is claimed that this technological miracle was developed and constructed from start to finish in Iran.

Wednesday: Iran announced the launch of the world's fastest underwater missile that travels three times faster than the fastest western torpedos and exactly the same speed as the Russian torpedo Shkval. The torpedo which unfortunately can be seen on Radar can fortunately move so fast that large ships and submarines cannot do anything about it once it decides to hit them.

Thursday: Iranian State television showed the launch of a surface-to-sea missile known as the Kowsar that the Iranians claim can evade radar and whose guidance system cannot be scrambled. The Kowsar is so fast that it was used to hit the torpedo tested one day earlier.

Friday: Iran has successfully test fired a "top secret" missile - the third in a week, according to state-run Iranian TV. The missile was an "ultra-horizon" weapon that could be fired from all types of military vehicles, the television report said. Because of the top-secret nature of the missile, State television could not elaborate more on the missile.

Saturday: Iran announces the construction of a "giant laser" to be launched with the Mesbah satellite next year. The laser which looks like a giant ----, will orbit the earth over targets of the "global arrogance" and hit them when (and if) necessary.

Sunday: Iran announces the training of super-secret super modern Kamikaze seaducks. The seaducks have modern explosives strapped to their bodies and can hit any ship, submarine, airplane, chopper or other moving objects that carry U.S., Israeli, British (and if necessary Saudi) flags. The ducks can evade radar and travel very fast. They can use the Kowsar missiles to reach their initial speed and cruise towards their targets. The ducks have been given headbands that read : "You didn't see that comin' did ya?"

It is anticipated that more super weaponry will be revealed in the coming weeks. For those not convinced, watch this rap clip created by the Iranian paramilitary (Basij). (Disclaimer: This clip does not yet contain all the super dooper weapons)

Omid Paydar is an Iranian freelance researcher on Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs.