The Reluctant Revolutionary

AN IRANIAN STUDENT’S HARROWING ADVENTURES IN MIDDLE AMERICA DURING THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION AND WHAT IT MEANS TODAY

Alec and his son Ashkon

“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion”

—Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in Physics

I wrote this piece after hours of interviews with Alec Moghadam. We had a great time together. He made amazing Persian dinners and we drank martinis while he told his story. Thanks, Alec, for sharing your adventures with me. What you experienced resonates powerfully with what is happening today.

Thousands of young, idealistic revolutionaries are taking to the streets of America, demanding the complete dismantling of the corrupt government institutions that have oppressed them for so long. They would do well to look at history to see how others just like them have been used as pawns, over and over, by leaders whose corrupt agendas are no different than those they depose, only sold in new packaging.

This has the trappings of a new religion. Dr. Fauci is the pope and George Floyd the first martyr elevated to sainthood. Meanwhile, the countless victims of urban violence—the innocent children—are forgotten. No one marches for them. Bill Gates tells the masses they should eat fake meat while he buys up millions of acres of farmland. Environmental Czars fly in private jets. Public officials eat mask-less at fancy restaurants and go on vacations while telling their constituents to do the opposite.

Live in your cubicle, obey without question, and take your check from your benevolent leaders. Happiness comes from owning nothing, says those who are intent on owning everything.

The mob is experiencing heady days, however those days are numbered. As in every violent uprising before this one (and make no mistake, this is a violent uprising), the mob will be used until the totalitarian state decides it is time to stop it. And then, streetfighters who do the dirty work will find themselves the first victims of the new regime.   

We would do well to listen to our elders and learn from their stories. Here’s what happened to Alec:

In the moment that I wrote death to Khomeini, I wasn’t thinking about how I might be prosecuted or even executed for my actions. If I had, I wouldn’t have done it. I wasn’t an unusually brave or serious-minded young man. I wasn’t a radical or an idealist, and I certainly wasn’t interested in sacrificing myself for a cause. If I had any goal at all, as a foreign student from Iran, it was to embrace the American philosophy of freedom and opportunity—meaning in more practical terms that I wanted to have as much fun as possible while maintaining passing grades in college.

I suppose that somewhere beneath my fun-loving exterior, I harbored a smattering of convictions. Something I hadn’t known until I committed that impulsive act. The few seconds that it took to write those three words came to define me more than all the many hours of partying that I had done previously and continued to do thereafter.

I was sitting in the study hall at Purdue University on a cold December day, shortly before Christmas break, when my moment of truth occurred. The year was 1979, and Jimmy Carter was President. The previous year had seen the overthrow of the Shah and the rise to power of the Ayatollah Khomeini, while one month earlier, on November 4th, a group of Islamic students and militants had stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, initiating the hostage crisis that would last 444 days and forever change the face of American-Iranian relations.

I was studying electrical engineering at Purdue, not because it was my dream to become an electrical engineer, but because it was a career where I could expect to be successful and make money if I had to go back home and live there. In Tehran, my dad was respected as the head of the house, and the family members deferred to him. I did what I thought was best for the good of my family.

Purdue is in the heartland of America, far from either of the more cosmopolitan coasts. I had grown up in a sophisticated environment, in a city that was not that much different from Paris or London. It shocked me how ignorant the people of West Lafayette were about the world. If asked, most of them could not find Iran on a map and were convinced that it must look like something out of the movie Lawrence of Arabia. They assumed I was an Arab who had grown up in the desert, wearing flowing robes and riding on a camel. To be called an Arab was insulting to me, not to mention shocking. Arabs had invaded Persia in 600 AD, resulting in Persians’ disdain for Arab culture and resistance to its influence ever since.

The hostage crisis put Iran on the map in the most negative way possible. Beforehand, most people at Purdue didn’t know where I was from nor did they care. And once they found out, I put aside the insulting manner in which my homeland was viewed, because it was a perspective of ignorance rather than hostility or prejudice. Most Americans I found to be friendly and eager to make me feel at home. I embraced this new world with enthusiasm, reveling in the freedom and spontaneity. I liked the parties and most of all, I loved the girls.

You can read the rest here The Reluctant Revolutionary – Break Free with Karen Hunt (substack.com)

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