02 January 2018

God's thugs go into action

As expected, the Iranian theocracy has begun cracking down on the protests that have raged in several of the nation's cities for days now.  In Tehran alone, 450 people have been arrested, and that number will certainly grow.  Though the protests have focused on economic issues and to some extent on nationalism and the repressive nature of the religious state, the regime has predictably blamed outside provocateurs, namely "the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia" (well, at least they didn't do the traditional thing and blame the Jews).  It remains to be seen whether the crackdown will intimidate the population back into quiescence or inflame further resistance.

One other thing is noteworthy about the crackdown:

Ghazanfarabadi said the detainees will be soon put on trial and the ringleaders would face serious charges including "moharebeh" -- an Islamic term meaning warring against God -- which carries the death penalty.

This is what happens in a theocratic state, the antithesis of a secular system where religion and government are kept strictly separated.  Where the state represents God, all resistance to the will of the state is blasphemy, sin, morally outrageous, and indeed "warring against God".  And since theocracies tend to be just as corrupt and incompetent and brutal as authoritarian regimes in general, run by the same kind of shabby, greedy, corrupt little men, they inevitably provoke the same kind of resistance, whether passive or active.  But theocrats claim to be more than ordinary bullies and criminals like the ones currently in power in Moscow and Beijing -- they claim to hold the exalted status of ventriloquist's dummies for the creator and overlord of the entire universe, the arbiter of good and evil.  As such, no penalty is too severe for the crime of opposing their miserable cruelties and depredations.

And likewise the thugs who carry out the regime's dirty work in the streets and prisons are holy thugs.  When they beat, rape, and murder the citizenry, they are doing God's work, and thus need not be troubled by any qualms of conscience.  Never was a truer sentence written than "Religions are not sources of objective morals, they are sources of excuses for behaving immorally".  Basing the state itself on this is a formula for ugliness indeed.

One other point about events in Iran is worth making.  Al-Jazeera has a good discussion of why these protests are happening, and how they differ from the vastly larger uprising of 2009 which intimidated the theocrats into allowing the election of Rouhani as President in 2013.  Notice, however, how little the United States is even mentioned.  Americans, ranging from bloggers and pundits to the ego-besotted orangutan currently occupying the White House, like to think of ourselves as the prime movers of everything that happens in the world, whether good or ill.  As another example, Trump's supporters have been suggesting that the recent near-total defeat of Dâ'ish (ISIL) is somehow attributable to him, in contrast with Obama's "failure" to achieve this result during his term in office.

In fact, the victory over Dâ'ish was the work primarily of the Kurdish and Arab forces which have been waging a slow, bloody, grinding war of liberation against it for years, with the US and the West in general playing a supporting role under both Presidents.  Always remember, it's not about us.  Events in Iran, and in the Middle East generally, are mostly driven by Middle Eastern people, ideas, and social and economic forces.  The rest of the world is not just a passive arena dominated by side effects of political conflicts within the US.  Every region has to be understood on its own terms.


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