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From Ahmadinejad to Trump

AUU Administrators Thursday, November 03, 2016 (0) Comments

 Words by: Iran Sanadzadeh

In 2005, Ahmadinejad was democratically elected to become the president of Iran. From that day on, we saw the already-existing gap grow between Iranians in big cities, with private education and healthcare access, and those from less successful provinces who saw no way out of their suffering of decades.

At the same, it became more frequent and more normalized to joke about violence against women and racism against minority ethnicities on national television. Then the kids who could afford to move to Europe, the US and Australia abandoned their homeland and escaped the toxic environment. The toxicity came from state-sanctioned violence against any citizen that posed a threat, as well as a huge push from the people themselves to silence whomever disagreed with them. Then everyone got very, very quiet. This hostility had started with playing the blame game, of who voted for Ahmadinejad, who voted for a third-party candidate, and who didn’t vote. Then it was a dehumanisation of those groups in the eyes of the others. Fair enough, when a group of people vote for the person that is literally responsible for the death of your friends and family, and the lack of safety and even a sense of citizenship to a minority group, it’s pretty hard to find a reason or the physical stamina to sit at a table with that group and try to understand how they came to feel that way, and how they came to vote that way. The blanket of disdain amongst the general public remained even after the 2009 elections, where people came together to vote this guy out. Even now, with a progressive president and a huge push towards a more open society, the effect of the Ahmadinejad years is felt throughout.

Minority groups are dehumanised in Trump’s rhetoric. Further, his anti-intellectual and anti-establishment views resonate with many, even people against him. Generally, being anti-establishment is seen as merely a lack of trust, and the shaming of Trump voters by those who disagree is accepted, if not the only welcome opening statement within those groups. This polarization of people is well beyond the realm of debate and critical thinking, and if that is partly what got both Trump and Ahmadinejad elected, opposing it with the same strategy is going fail, miserably.

Donald Trump is now ‘the leader of the free world’, and I can already feel the same loss of hope, and the same finger pointing beginning to occur. If we do not recognize what is happening, we will quickly ruin any chance we have of saving this situation. What is needed now is for us to pick up the slack. It is our job as the ones privileged enough to have access to education, health and safety to not lose sight of all the hard fought social progress we have made. We do not owe this to any one person, but we cannot afford to allow ourselves to be overtaken by disdain and contempt or things will only get worse. Let me come down from the pedestal one step. I was one of the fortunate few who got to leave for a personally more rewarding, and a much less stressful life. Trump is now the Commander in Chief of the most powerful and influential country in the world. What happens in America in the next four years will echo globally and spread. We cannot let a clearly broken system lead to our rejection of hope and forward thinking. If accountability and change is not relentlessly pursued we will never figure out how to fix it. One thing is for sure, we can’t have the Iranian revolution of 1978 on a global scale. But that is another story we can afford to learn from.


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