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Those Friendly Iranians
The NY Times ^ | May 5, 2004 | NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Posted on 05/05/2004 4:44:06 AM PDT by F14 Pilot

Finally, I've found a pro-American country.

Everywhere I've gone in Iran, with one exception, people have been exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States, and often for President Bush as well. Even when I was detained a couple of days ago in the city of Isfahan for asking a group of young people whether they thought the Islamic revolution had been a mistake (they did), the police were courteous and let me go after an apology.

They apologized; I didn't.

On my first day in Tehran, I dropped by the "Den of Spies," as the old U.S. Embassy is now called. It's covered with ferocious murals denouncing America as the "Great Satan" and the "archvillain of nations" and showing the Statue of Liberty as a skull (tour the "Den of Spies" here).

Then I stopped to chat with one of the Revolutionary Guards now based in the complex. He was a young man who quickly confessed that his favorite movie is "Titanic." "If I could manage it, I'd go to America tomorrow," he said wistfully.

He paused and added, "To hell with the mullahs."

In the 1960's and 1970's, the U.S. spent millions backing a pro-Western modernizing shah — and the result was an outpouring of venom that led to our diplomats' being held hostage. Since then, Iran has been ruled by mullahs who despise everything we stand for — and now people stop me in the bazaar to offer paeans to America as well as George Bush.

Partly because being pro-American is a way to take a swipe at the Iranian regime, anything American, from blue jeans to "Baywatch," is revered. At the bookshops, Hillary Clinton gazes out from three different pirated editions of her autobiography.

`It's a best seller, though it's not selling as well as Harry Potter," said Heidar Danesh, a bookseller in Tehran. "The other best-selling authors are John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel."

Young Iranians keep popping the question, "So how can I get to the U.S.?" I ask why they want to go to a nation denounced for its "disgustingly sick promiscuous behavior," but that turns out to be a main attraction. And many people don't believe a word of the Iranian propaganda.

"We've learned to interpret just the opposite of things on TV because it's all lies," said Odan Seyyid Ashrafi, a 20-year-old university student. "So if it says America is awful, maybe that means it's a great place to live."

Indeed, many Iranians seem convinced that the U.S. military ventures in Afghanistan and Iraq are going great, and they say this with more conviction than your average White House spokesman.

One opinion poll showed that 74 percent of Iranians want a dialogue with the U.S. — and the finding so irritated the authorities that they arrested the pollster. Iran is also the only Muslim country I know where citizens responded to the 9/11 attacks with a spontaneous candlelight vigil as a show of sympathy.

Iran-U.S. relations are now headed for a crisis over Tehran's nuclear program, which appears to be so advanced that Iran could produce its first bomb by the end of next year. The Bush administration is right to address this issue, but it needs to step very carefully to keep from inflaming Iranian nationalism and uniting the population behind the regime. We need to lay out the evidence on satellite television programs that are broadcast into Iran, emphasizing that the regime is squandering money on a nuclear weapons program that will further isolate Iranians and damage their economy.

Left to its own devices, the Islamic revolution is headed for collapse, and there is a better chance of a strongly pro-American democratic government in Tehran in a decade than in Baghdad. The ayatollahs' best hope is that hard-liners in Washington will continue their inept diplomacy, creating a wave of Iranian nationalism that bolsters the regime — as happened to a lesser degree after President Bush put Iran in the axis of evil.

Oh, that one instance when I was treated inhospitably? That was in a teahouse near the Isfahan bazaar, where I was interviewing religious conservatives. They were warm and friendly, but a group of people two tables away went out of their way to be rude, yelling at me for being an American propagandist. So I finally encountered hostility in Iran — from a table full of young Europeans.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: bush; den; history; hospitality; hostagecrisis; iran; iranians; irgc; isfehan; mullahs; southwestasia; spy; usa; yazd; young
Freedom For Iranians, Safety for World, Peace in the Middle East!
1 posted on 05/05/2004 4:44:06 AM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; freedom44; nuconvert; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; onyx; Pro-Bush; ...

PING!

2 posted on 05/05/2004 4:46:02 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (Don't give in without a FIGHT)
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To: F14 Pilot
LOL!!

Great article!
3 posted on 05/05/2004 4:49:58 AM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ...( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: F14 Pilot
"So I finally encountered hostility.... — from a table full of young Europeans."

My daily fantasy.

4 posted on 05/05/2004 4:55:04 AM PDT by Leisler (Everything is forbidden except when expressly permitted.)
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To: F14 Pilot
At the bookshops, Hillary Clinton gazes out from three different pirated editions of her autobiography. `It's a best seller, though it's not selling as well as Harry Potter," said Heidar Danesh, a bookseller in Tehran.

I thought they liked us....
5 posted on 05/05/2004 4:58:17 AM PDT by Kozak (Anti Shahada: " There is no God named Allah, and Muhammed is his False Prophet")
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To: F14 Pilot
"We've learned to interpret just the opposite of things on TV because it's all lies," said Odan Seyyid Ashrafi, a 20-year-old university student. "So if it says America is awful, maybe that means it's a great place to live."

Mr. Ashrafi would have no trouble deciphering the ravings of Tom Rather, Dan Jennings, and Peter Brokaw ...

6 posted on 05/05/2004 5:00:16 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Kozak
I think, they like Americans in general. They don't know much about the differences between DemocRATs and Republicans!
Perhaps, we have to let them know!~~~LoL!
7 posted on 05/05/2004 5:02:57 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (Don't give in without a FIGHT)
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To: F14 Pilot
And this is from the New York Times?
8 posted on 05/05/2004 5:24:26 AM PDT by Mo1 (Make Michael Moore cry.... DONATE MONTHLY!!!)
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To: F14 Pilot
I love how the guy manages to get in a dig at the "hardliners" and "inept diplomacy" when referring to Bush and Co. Uh, dude, you just quoted people saying the war was going great and that they loved America--he mentioned Iran in the axis of evil once. Also, the people are savvy enough to know that he means the mullahs and not the average Iranian.

Gosh, an otherwise pleasant article and he has to try to spoil it with that.
9 posted on 05/05/2004 5:48:52 AM PDT by Skywalk
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To: Mo1
Yeah!
10 posted on 05/05/2004 6:12:27 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (Don't give in without a FIGHT)
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To: F14 Pilot
Then I stopped to chat with one of the Revolutionary Guards now based in the complex. He was a young man who quickly confessed that his favorite movie is "Titanic." "If I could manage it, I'd go to America tomorrow," he said wistfully.

He paused and added, "To hell with the mullahs."

Oh Oh! Some rulers are in a whole lot of trouble.
If the Revolutionary Guards are turning against them, they're days are numbered.
11 posted on 05/05/2004 6:13:28 AM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: F14 Pilot
Well I have to admit .. I am truly surprised
12 posted on 05/05/2004 6:19:52 AM PDT by Mo1 (Make Michael Moore cry.... DONATE MONTHLY!!!)
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To: F14 Pilot
Sure, they are friendly now. But wait until we get tough with the regime and actually take some action. I have a feeling that suddenly the locals won't be so friendly anymore. But I do know that there is a worldwide desire to get to the US. I once had a chat with a Buddhist monk, wearing the saffron robes and all that, in Bangkok and I asked him what he wanted to do with his life. His response was that his dream was to go to California and become a hotel clerk. ;)

I've had my own experiences with Eurotrash, btw, and that last vignette rings very true. They can be openly rude for no reason and then sort of sit back and smile to themselves, as if patting themselves on the back for taking on the horrible Americans.

13 posted on 05/05/2004 7:25:13 AM PDT by KellyAdmirer
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To: All

14 posted on 05/05/2004 7:25:30 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (John ''Fedayeen" sKerry - the Mullahs' regime candidate)
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To: F14 Pilot
So I finally encountered hostility in Iran — from a table full of young Europeans.

ROTFLMCO

15 posted on 05/05/2004 7:57:54 AM PDT by McGavin999 (If Kerry can't deal with the "Republican Attack Machine" how is he going to deal with Al Qaeda)
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To: F14 Pilot
Sounds like Viet Nam. I met only courtesy and enthusiasm for America and Americans last summer, and I was not spending money.
16 posted on 05/05/2004 8:32:12 AM PDT by ThanhPhero (Ong lam hanh huong di La Vang)
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To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the ping!
17 posted on 05/05/2004 8:32:46 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: F14 Pilot
Okay, what's going on here? This is the NY Times - where's the ulterior objective?
18 posted on 05/05/2004 8:34:01 AM PDT by thoughtomator (yesterday Kabul, today Baghdad, tomorrow Damascus)
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To: F14 Pilot
Let Freedom Ring ~ Bump!
19 posted on 05/05/2004 9:04:50 AM PDT by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: F14 Pilot
Great post!
20 posted on 05/05/2004 10:10:16 AM PDT by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: LibreOuMort
"Just as you keep saying" ping!
21 posted on 05/05/2004 10:25:47 AM PDT by Eala (Sacrificing tagline fame for... TRAD ANGLICAN RESOURCE PAGE: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican)
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To: F14 Pilot
Great post. Like Eastern Europe, the Iranians are hungry
for freedom from oppression. In due time, it will come to
pass.
22 posted on 05/05/2004 11:02:56 AM PDT by Smartass ( BUSH & CHENEY IN 2004 - THE BEST GET BETTER)
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To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the ping - great article. Let's hope the new Iranian revolution is not far off.
23 posted on 05/05/2004 1:30:04 PM PDT by Heatseeker
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To: F14 Pilot
To quote from that last scene in Casblanca, I think this is going to be the beginning of a very good friendship.
24 posted on 05/05/2004 2:32:30 PM PDT by happygrl (this war is for all the marbles...we can't go Spanish!)
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To: F14 Pilot
Ok, how do you say ROTFLOL in Farsi?
25 posted on 05/05/2004 5:36:47 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: F14 Pilot
Latenight bump
26 posted on 05/05/2004 8:17:07 PM PDT by Valin (Hating people is like burning down your house to kill a rat)
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To: SandRat
I don't know that much Persian language! LoL~!
27 posted on 05/05/2004 10:22:54 PM PDT by F14 Pilot (John ''Fedayeen" sKerry - the Mullahs' regime candidate)
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