The good news: President George W. Bush has a plan to get us out of Iraq. The bad news: he wants to go through Iran. Thats a new joke floating around the Internet. And how about the idea that George W. got the names of the countries mixed up (he wanted to invade Iran, but wrote Iraq on the military orders)?
Iran is, of course, one of the Axis of Evil countries. Its been that way ever since the Iranian people overthrew the Shah of Iran and set up an Islamic republic.
The Shah, of course, was our buddy. The CIA put him into power to protect the worlds largest lake of oil (whats our oil doing under their sand?). When the Shah was finally overthrown in 1979, he tried to come to the United States. Then-President Jimmy Carter allowed the Shah to enter New York. Iranian students revolted and took over the American embassy. Since that time, Iran has been a pariah in international politics. And thats one of the reasons I would like to visit Iran.
Theres a form of democracy there. Many experts consider Iran one of the most democratic of the Muslim countries, but religious mullahs, who have the last say, control everything. Sometimes, the reformist mullahs get the upper hand, then the country becomes a little more liberal; women can appear more in the public, and Western products appear in the marketplace (and the fundamentalists go crazy).
The newly-elected president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, showed his true colors when he restarted Irans nuclear power/bomb research, and at the same time, said Israel should be wiped off the map and the Holocaust never happened. All this while George Bush watched (or slept).
You might think the United States is too bogged down in Iraq to even threaten an Iran invasion, but you never know what those neo-cons have on their agenda. Maybe invading Iran is next; damn the consequences, it isnt any of their kids doing the fighting.
So in these perilous times, some peace activists have tried to reach out to the other side. Come meet some of them. This Monday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m., the Unitarian Universalist Church (4848 Turner St.) will host Dr. Robert and Bonnie Block, long-time Wisconsin peace activists who just returned from a trip to Iran.
The peace delegation was sponsored by Fellowship of Reconciliation, one of the oldest peace organizations in the United States. (FOR was started by World War I U.S. veterans who reconciled with their German counterparts.) FOR delegates visited Iran in December 2005.
Dr. and Mrs. Block will present a slideshow and talk about their Iranian tour. Bonnie Block said the Iranians warmly received the peace delegation. They even met members of the Tehran Jewish community, as well as Shiite religious leaders, businessmen and college students. Three cities were on the itinerary: Tehran, the capital; Sharaz, the jewel of classical Islamic culture, as well as the seat of Irans ancient civilization; and Esfehan, the legendary capital of medieval Persia.
I have applied for the next FOR peace delegation to Iran (leaving May of 2006want to come along?). There are other peace aactivists applying for this trip, and I hope to get a leg up after hearing Dr. and Mrs. Blocks talk.
There are few good chances to make people-to-people contact between Iranians and Americans. Whether I go or not, Ill be passing out peace cards so we can send our best wishes to the Iranians. Its either that, or we send in the Marines.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the Feb. 1-7, 2006, issue