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View Rushdioe affair in light of Iranian Revolution

Discussion in The Tech on the subject of Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses seems to indicate a deep difference of perspectives between those critical of Rushdie and those who view him as a victim. I believe that much of this difference of opinion is colored by a lack of knowledge of the history of Iran. It is unfair to view the actions of the Ayatollah out of the context of the history which brought him to power.

In 1979, the Islamic Revolution took place in Iran. What many people are less familiar with is why the Revolution took place. Gary Sick and Kermit Roosevelt have both documented that the Shah, the leader who was overthrown in the revolution, was put in power by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1953. The Shah took the place of the leader Mossadeigh, who was planning to nationalize British-controlled oil fields in Iran. The Shah acted in the interest of the West during his rule from 1953 to 1979 by keeping the price of Iranian oil artificially low. His secret police, known as SAVAK, were known to use systematic torture against those who opposed the Shah. He also lavished luxury on himself and poured money into his military, while neglecting serious domestic problems in Iran which needed attention. The revolution grew directly out of the Shiite clergy's anger with the Shah, not only for the way he treated the Iranians in general, but also for his efforts to force Western culture on Iran's primarily traditional population.

I am not saying that the Rushdie death threat is justified nor am I pledging support to the Ayatollah, who has also resorted to torture to quell opposition for his government. What I am saying is that, for the sake of fairness, the actions of the Ayatollah should be judged in the light of the history which brought him to power. The United States must accept a significant amount of responsibility for the situation which now exists in Iran. If the United States were to do this, then it would be much easier to normalize the relationship between Iran and the rest of the world. It would have also made the dialogue in The Tech more civil.

Theodore A. Corbin '90->