The Feces, the Blood and the Phlegm
This was indeed a very eventful week in US-Iran relations. First the Pentagon did a typical leak on its latest ‘3 day blitz’ plan for attacking Iran, in effect emphasizing Bush’s promise for a ‘300’-style event -- A surround sound video game style swift hostile action on Iran where the US public presumably finds its cultural center. A poise recently lost in the quagmire of the Iraqi war fiasco.
In US progressive circles, we were warned by honorable activists that after Labor Day weekend a systematic propaganda will start in the form of a New Product Introduction (NPI) process preparing and testing the public for this latest product namely a new war on Iran. The coming months are crucially important for those Americans who are actively fighting against such a planned onslaught on Iran. The Fast War Nation is being prepared once again to deal with the consequences of the cultural urge for rapid delivery.
In the Movie, “Fast Food Nation”, the brilliant American Director tells the true story by showing how Corporate America is feeding the urge of the American population for rapid delivery of food. Hamburger, the basic staple of the Fast Food Nation, in this incredibly thoughtful movie is named ‘The Big One’ and is shown to be intermixed with animal feces, literally, foreigner human blood, figuratively, and phlegm of the poorly paid American worker in the service industry. The feces or shit, if you like, is of the cow, the blood is of the dark-skinned, foreign-tongued illegal workers, and the mucus is from a chain restaurant employee.
In the process of delivering the Product to the Fast Food Nation, wives and daughters of illegal foreigners are raped, drugged, and fooled; helpless illegal workers are accused of drug use to be deprived of heath insurance, and finally the US public is kept in the dark by the hoopla that will fill the social space through the introduction of the new Product, the ‘BBQ Big One’ hamburgers. The outsourcing Manager, played by Bruce Willis, insists that “people in this country need to grow up and eat shit once in a while. …Cook the meat and you’ll be all right”.
The same corporate culture that is depicted in the Fast Food Nation is now running the Fast War Nation. Iraq war being its current featured “Product” has feces, blood, and phlegm all over it. In the movie, the bodily waste is introduced into the meat through the mishandling of the dead cow’s intestines. It is an unintended consequence of speeding up the assembly line, an unpredicted and technically irrational escalation of the meat packing process for the sake of rapid delivery.
Remember the “Mission Accomplished” banner on the cruise ship and all the aftermath and unintended consequences? The blood in the movie is of the cheap, dispensable, dark colored foreign worker that accidentally falls into the grips of grinding machine; an accident waiting to happen, which then happens. We know of the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians that have perished in one hasty US mission after another since the invasion as collateral damage. Refer to Fellujah, 2004 for example. The cooking of the feces, so people will eat the meat, as Bruce Willis puts it, is the same as all the propaganda, and deception, forging and ‘cooking’ of the facts of Iraq war so as to make it all palatable for the public to digest, sip on the Cola and move on to the apple pie desert. And just like the movie, where Senior Management feels good about itself by introducing the “New Product”, in Mr. Bush’s Fast War Nation, an attack on Iran is planned to be the next New Product, where the public is being conditioned to forget all the feces and blood and phlegm of the old for a promisingly better taste of a new one.
The Iranian Roaches and an Alliance too Close
So this week, the NPI process began right on queue after the Labor Day weekend. In tandem with the Pentagon leak, a cartoon appeared in a US paper depicting Iranians as cockroaches.
National Iranian American Council (NIAC) which brought the subject to the attention of Iranian Americans, protested by writing an open letter to the editors at the Columbus Dispatch:
“A cartoon published in the editorial page of your newspaper on September 4 has depicted Iran as a sewer on a map of the Middle East with cockroaches crawling out of it. By publishing this shocking cartoon, the editors of the Columbus Dispatch have insulted and propagated hate against a large segment of the American population that traces its roots to an ancient and proud civilization.”
NIAC has been one of the more active and organized forces fighting the Israeli lobby against an attack on Iran on the Capital Hill. Not only all peace loving Iranian Americans, but also the Islamic Republic with its shameful record against the Iranian people should be grateful for NIAC’s efforts in this regard. But then the narrative takes a nose dive invoking the enjoyable good old days, when the Sewer depicted in the cartoon was an ‘Island of Calm and Stability’:
“Up until the 1970s the United States and Iran enjoyed a close alliance. Many Iranians immigrated here to escape the turmoil of the Iranian revolution of 1979 and to demonstrate their opposition to the turn of events in that country. Nonetheless, Iranian Americans are proud of their heritage despite the dispute that grips the United States and Iran today.”
Yes indeed, up until the late 70s, there was such unity and “close alliance” among the two nations. Iran used to trade oil for arms and not hostages with the United States and if for any reason there was a rise in the oil price, the excess money was used to buy even more military hardware to police the area protecting US interests and help keep the Military-Industrial Complex financially afloat.
Iran up until the late 70’s was the ‘Gendarme of the Region’ for the U.S. and there was no need for the honorable Central Command to station itself in Qatar at such expense to the American public and bring more than 100 warships and cruisers into the Persian Gulf. The friendship was so cherished by the Iranians that their King of Kings late Shah, issued a decree-passed-into-law which protected Americans caught in civil and criminal offenses in Iran from prosecution by the ‘Judiciary of the Natives’. It was such a cozy partnership and exquisite unity among the two nations that unlike roaches that can still have some freakish animal-loving NGO to protect them, Iranian citizens were fair game in their own country -- to be run over by any American driving in the middle of Tehran to no consequence.
In reality this was not a ‘close alliance’ at all but a blatant rape of an entire nation by another. One that cost the largest country in Western Asia decades of truly democratic progress. The Iranians after all, under the shadow of Tsarist Russia and British Empire, somehow pulled off a constitutional revolution in 1906 long before the United Stated gave its own black citizens the right to vote. And the Parliamentary system that rose out of the ashes of WWII was destroyed in 1953 by the CIA for the sake of creating that “close alliance” that forever changed the path of politico-cultural development of the Iranian society and ultimately paved the way for the ascendancy of the theocracy in the comedy-tragic regime of the current Islamic Republic.
Yet we seem to have not responded to the biggest message of the cartoon -- it is not that as roaches, Iranians are hard to get rid of (subliminal message: use tactical nuclear weapons); not that the roaches are all over Iraq, from the Sunni Anbar province to Kurdistan and the Shiite South (insinuation: Iran is the cause of the entire Iraqi fiasco); and not that Israel and occupied Palestine are also infected with this pest problem (bomb Iran, solve the Palestinian problem); or that all of Afghanistan on the map is under roach attack and not just the Herat province (hint: Iran supports Taliban); or not even the fact that the people and government are indistinguishable in this infestation nightmare, but that the whole country of Iran is depicted as a sewer, from the rice fields of the Caspian Provinces right down to the Nuclear power plant by the Persian Gulf.
This clever cartoon, not only pictorially summarizes all the false allegations that Bush administration has laid against the Iranian government, but it also encapsulates the whole dehumanization campaign that has been going on against Iranian people in the last few years. This is an attack of a different kind -- One that intentionally shows no respect for human history and societal continuity for a country with an ancient civilization and culture which sits well with the worst traits in the American culture.
Like the Sewer in the cartoon, the Bush administration and its political allies in the establishment, while beating the drums of war, have been tapping on centuries old resources and patterns of the darkest corners of the U.S. political culture which many Americans might not even consciously or unconsciously recognize.
In this dark corner of the pioneering culture, as Edward Saeed stated “U.S. is the true Beginning of human History, its final Manifestation, and its End”. Other societies are pre-historic, not essentially different from what was here when the Pioneering society was taking shape. Sitting Bull or the Ayatollah only differ in their head decorations.
In this frightful trend in the US ruling culture all other societies are kind of like second-hand Antique Stores where there are items to be found -- maybe a carpet, an old book of illustrated poems, or a brass head of a despotic King which can all be stored in the Museum of Human Natural History next to the skeletons of Lucy. And whatever worthy people these second-hand societies have will join us and assimilate, just like the Apache scouts who fought for us to humiliate and castrate Geronimo.
Epilogue: A History That Never Ends
Historians inform us that when the Mongol armies, provoked by incompetent and ruthless rulers, invaded Persia, after destroying the cities and murdering countless civilians, they did a bit of a Brain Drain: they exiled over 1000 Iranian craftsmen and artists to the Steppes of origin, to carve, weave, design and build, and took all the Water Engineers with them on their way to the invasion and pillage of Europe, to build damns and bridges and wells, as the Mongol Army Corps of Engineers.
The other day I watched the brilliant Iranian-American Professor from California, responsible for the design of the Stealth bomber cockpit crying on Washington Post site in agony, contemplating his ‘worst nightmare’, the possibility of the ‘Bombing of Iran’.
It is past Labor Day weekend, and the Campaign to demonize Iran has just shifted into high gear.
 Kevin Costner in ‘Dances with the Wolves’ depicts this aspect of the American culture brilliantly: how the early pioneering Americans showed utter disrespect for the Native Americans, their ways and life. The savage and wasteful brutality against the buffalo herds, the random killing of the semi-domesticated wolf in the movie are symbols of a culture that does not even make an effort to understand other human cultures. The protagonist, played by the Director, accidentally acquaints himself with the culture of the Other people; he defects and ends up fighting the US Army, melting away into the mountains in the end. This film has no happy ending. The other day I saw a clip of US soldiers using an Iraqi farm dog as shooting practice on YouTube. The dog died after many shots. Kosner had predicted this event many years ago, when in the scene the soldiers used the Wolf as shooting practice and killed him. My American children cried uncontrollably for the Wolf: “Why did they kill the Husky Dad?”
 I have an old friend, a veteran of Iranian left living on the east coast. His family says once in a while he escapes the bed at night, crawls into his little den in the basement, puts on Jalal-Eddin Rumi poetry, recited by that grand old man Shamloo, indulges in the sublime beauties of a breath-taking language that glows with inimitable Persian cultural imagery and thoughts, and weeps for his people up until dawn.
Editorial Note: Original version of this article was edited with author's consent.
* K. Darbandi is an Iranian-American scientist and a former member of Islamic Republic opposition.