Topic: "Not Funny, Dr Jones"(5)
Lake Lovey came into existence about forty years ago. The partners who developed the land were a builder, who constructed the first dwellings, and a minister, who owned the land. Among the first to buy land and build homes, some vacation and some permanent, were fellow clergymen and lay leaders of the dominant religious group in the area. For many years, people in the general area referred to them as the "Methodist Mafia." As time passed, a generational shift took place and an increasing number of younger, and more affluent, residents came into the area for a number of specific reasons. With them came something new, i.e. demands for better service and amenities. Remaining however, were people who were older, often on fixed incomes, who saw no reason for changing anything, and were certainly not eager to experience increases in taxes, fees, amd dues.
The purpose of the preceding paragraph is to draw the lines of analogy for what, Frodo hopes, will be the last of his political lectures for a period of respite.
Iran is a great deal like Lake Lovey. Despite the demand for high-speed internet, the local telephone company is years away from offering anything other than dial-up service. The alternative satellite service is inconsistent due to the presence of clouds, birds, or swamp gas. Cable service is merely a rumor.
Security used to be the province of a retired farmer who got the benefit of a cost-free rental house and Social Security coverage. In return, he was to patrol the road around the lake twice per day, and to man the front gate during other hours on duty. Complications arose when he started to carry a gun, and to singlehandedly reduce the population of every crawling creature, without the benefit of species identification prior to execution.
Potholes developed all around the gravel roads, so loans were taken in order to pave the way for the influx of SUV's, Jaguars, golf carts, and other vehicles which supplanted the "Ford Tough" prersence of the Appalachian environment.
In the middle of all of this were the religious leaders, who saw themselves as above the fray, and ill-prepared to deal with the coming storms.
In 1979 the Iranian Revolution destroyed the last vestiges of the Shah's rule. The government that replaced it was not a reformist group, it was a religiously devout assemblage who attracted support from those who wanted things like they used to be, for about two thousand years. That government, if not that political perspective, is what dominates Iran in its' rural components, among the religiously conservative, the older generation, and those who do not trust those who supported the evil Shah. On the other side are the younger, more technologically-savvy, educationally-developed, urbanites, who most feel the incompetence of the current government and its economic policies. The more moderate, and wealthier, clerics, unseated by the current leader, are also in this group.
If, dear reader, you were a media representative, sent to Iran in order to gauge the feelings of the people, and to forecast political events, what problems do you think you might face? What might prevent you from getting a true snapshot of these history-making days?
Well, as Frodo would say, since you don't speak Farsi, it is apparent that you will get more input from those who speak English than from those who do not. Since telephone service is almost non-existent outside the major cities, you will get no opinions from those in rural areas. Since you represent a nation which provided support to the Shah, and who elected a moron like George W. Bush, doesn't it seem likely that some might be hesitant to even be seen with you? Finally, since all of the media access to the country is held by those who are young enough to understand that the internet is not "made up out of tubes," doesn't that mean all of that input will be skewed to what that group thinks is important?
Why, then, are we surprised at the election results? Our polling, our "scientific" analysis of the electorate was abominable. It is just as it was beginning in 2002 when we began to learn the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. We failed to understand that the enlightened elite that we seemed to see behind every corner was actually, although growing steadily, nowhere near the numbers that our media magnificence portrayed.
Frodo believes that the current regime probably did garner the most votes. That may not mean that everyone will accept the result, and continue as good little boy and girl citizens of Iran, but it does mean that the political leader gained strength, and it came at the expense of the religious institutional leaders who opposed him. It also means that the crowds we now see in the streets of Teheran may not reflect who actually holds the strings that make the puppets dance.
That is what worries Frodo, a lot.