Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Iran Arrests Grandma"

A longer post about my very exciting vacation will follow once I recover from the waffle/falafel-related jetlag I'm currently dealing with. But for now, a take-down of Tom Friedman. His column this week, "Iran Arrests Grandma," is beyond idiotic, and his argument ends up detracting from a much-needed point about Iranian (in)justice.

As the article's title suggests, the problem with Iran's sudden and arbitrary arrest of scholar Haleh Esfandiari is not that it was sudden and arbitrary, but that Esfandiari a) is female, and b) had at least one child who himself is a parent. Now anyone who's watched a Lifetime movie knows that "grandmas" may well be in their 30s, but this particular grandma is 67. Not 30, but by no means ancient. It's still well within the range of those who direct world politics. As long as those in their late 60s or early 70s are men. But back to Friedman:

This Iranian regime is afraid of its shadow. How do I know? It recently arrested a 67-year-old grandmother, whom it accused of trying to bring down the regime by organizing academic conferences!

Yes, big, tough President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — the man who shows us how tough he is by declaring the Holocaust a myth — had his goons arrest Haleh Esfandiari, a 67-year-old scholar, grandmother and dual Iranian-U.S. citizen, while she was visiting her 93-year-old mother in Tehran. Do you know how paranoid you have to be to think that a 67-year-old grandmother visiting her 93-year-old mother can bring down your regime? Now that is insecure.

Clearly scholars can have political agendas, all the more so if they are involved in explicitly political work. It seems obvious that Esfandiari's agenda was not what Iran claims, thus the tragedy of her arrest. But if neither her age nor her profession ought to prove her innocence, then what, in Friedman's view, proves it? She's a granny! As such, no matter that her profession is hardly sitting on a rocking chair with a lap dog, no matter that she's 67 and not 87, she's an old lady, for god's sake!


Behrooz said...

To me, you are detracting from the reality. Are you so delusional that you see faults in people titling their articles even though their story is true? Read the contents and forget about being politically correct.

This Islamic regime is just ruthless. The only way for them to survive is by putting fear in people just the same as other dictatorship regimes before them.
In Iran today, you have no rights as a human being. No freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no freedom of anything. You may not wear what you want, may not wear happy colors, may not eat what you want, may not drink what you want, may not read what you want, and even may not think what you want. Today, people houses are being invaded everyday if you have alcohol, if you have satellite, if they listen to Pop music, if a man and a woman that are not related are alone, if they have a party, if you have a wedding that men and women are not isolated from each other, and ….
Iran’s regime is on the verge of collapse. They have no credibility among people. 90 percent of population absolutely hate this regime and can not wait for the day that they can take their revenge, and it would be a bloody one too. People are subjected to such abuses that many of them are willing for the US to pour bombs over their head rather that live the life that they have now! It’s sad but true. You ask why people do not rise up? They do, but every time they ruthlessly get slaughtered. The tactic that this regime has is very simple. They try to keep people poor so that they will be too busy providing for their family holding several jobs. Many of the freedom spokesmen have quit their struggle because what little they have will be taken from them, they will be jailed for long time with tourcher and their family will have to live in the streets begging for food.
Iran is one of the richest countries in the world but its people are one of the poorest ever since the Islamist took power. I know these things. I am an Iranian.

Phoebe said...

We are not in conflict here. I agree with everything you said re: Iran. My point was that Friedman's article does little to help in condemning this regime. By dwelling on the fact that Iran would arrest a "grandmother," he tells a story that sheds no light on the real problem. And this isn't about political correctness--it's not that an older woman could, theoretically, be a politically-active scholar, this particular woman IS one, and Friedman discusses her situation as though she were knitting by the fireplace. This is particularly ironic when one considers that for all its failings, the one thing Iran DOES do, generally speaking, is treat women differently from men.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the point about the woman arrested being a grandmother is irrelevant. Osama is probably a grandfather by now considering how many wives he has had.

Anonymous said...

interesting point, but it seems useless to me to fuss over semantics. At least Friedman got the main point right about the woman's arrest being completely. The grandma thing might have been a poor choice of words but the message still stands.