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While the corporate liberal media wants us to focus on the Senate's show-acquittal of the Donald, and be distracted from his desire for a war with Iran, there are lessons to be learned from our history with Iran.

Religious Repression

Until the Khomeini Revolution, Iran was a modern, secular society, with developing industry, respected universities, and a dictatorial government installed by the United States. The U.S. puppet government practiced brutal political repression, very similar to the brutality of the corporate government installed by U.S. military force in South Korea. Both puppet governments allowed no democratic participation, although both held sham elections.

The people of Iran were not clamoring for a religious Revolution in 1979. But they were disgusted by "their" dictatorial Shah, and were ready for whomever might relieve them of the burdens of oppression.

There is no evidence that the Iranian people anticipated or wanted the religious results of their revolution. They had a repressed, but modern life, with access to the rest of the world, understanding of modern science, medicine and social conditions. Since the revolution, significant parts of the Iranians population have demonstrated against the religious zealots who seek to return the country to a stone-age, paternalistic, stridently misogynistic social structure.

Like American fundagelicals, Iran's religious leaders pick and choose what parts of their scriptures they want to cite. And like America's for-profit "christians," Iran's "Moslem" leaders have little or no connection to the Islam of history.

What do we know of the current Iranian religious dictatorship? Most importantly for Americans, it is very similar to Southern Baptism, or Evangelical "Christianity." Like American fundagelicals, Iran's religious leaders pick and choose what parts of their scriptures they want to cite. And like America's for-profit "christians," Iran's "Moslem" leaders have little or no connection to the Islam of history.

It helps to remember that in European history, while the Catholic Church was torturing and burning Jews at the stake, Islamic states took Jews in, honoring their scholarship in great universities and libraries. Preserving their culture, their scholarship and their lives as "christians" sought to erase such things from the world. There is nothing in Islam that requires anti-semitism. The anti-semitism of the current Iranian regime is built on political exploitation of Iranian popular revulsion at the apartheid, expansionist policies of the current Israeli government, and the seizure of Palestinian lands and lives. It is political expedience, to focus internal unrest against a foreign enemy.

It is helpful to remember that the current Likud government is as selective about its adherence to Torah as the Iranians are to the Quran, and Southern Baptists are to the Bible.

What does this mean for the U.S.? For several decades, corporations through their for-profit churches have been lobbying to replace our democratic republic with a "christian" fundamentalist oligarchy. With the Donald stripping away any pretenses of respect for the Constitution or any form of multi-cultural, multi-racial society, we owe it to ourselves, our nation and our posterity to contemplate the Iranian model, as an indicator of what a Southern Baptist model government and society might look like.

As with the Iranian government, the fundagelicals promise government based on violent punishments and repression. While Social Sciences continue to teach us that violence is counter-productive in child-rearing and social interactions, church groups keep telling us that their "god" demands violence. They clearly reject the teachings of the non-god Jesus character in the Bible.

Church groups also teach us that society should be divided into social strata. Both the fundagelicals and the Iranian mullahs preach that clergymen and their business allies should be at the top of the social order, bearing the burdens of privilege as a reward for their work to maintain the repressive order.

The wannabe religious rulers also deny the reality of science. It was laughable when they simply preached against evolution, or that tobacco was as healthy a crop as it was profitable. But as the Donald rolls back environmental protection regulations, and denies that the sea level rise that promises to flood Mar-a-Lagoon can be defined by actual scientific measurement, we have to take religious science-denial as a threat to our existence, as no longer simply a joke.

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One reason this religious nuttery is a real threat is the decades-long corporate assault on public education. The Republican Party now formally labels "critical thinking" as a danger to society, and bars teaching critical thinking skills where ever it can. In this corporate Southern Baptism differs from Iranian religiosity. Since the revolution, Iran has largely erased illiteracy, and improved infant mortality and general public healthcare.

We can use the examples of Iran and South Korea to anticipate what our society would look like under corporate/religious rule - Years of demonstrations by disaffected people, met with violent repression. The Donald's court appointments are chosen for doctrinaire party loyalty, even in the face of "unqualified" ratings by the very conservative American Bar Association and other groups. Many of these judges have track records of religious bigotry that would suit them to serve on any Iranian court.

The Iranian revolution did not relieve the population from the Shah's brutal repression. Women lost freedoms that the Shah had allowed them. The liberation of gay Iranians was reversed. Even as national literacy and healthcare have greatly improved.

The broader social effects of dogmatic religious rule frequently get disguised by attention focused elsewhere. Iran had a flourishing oil industry that was severely disrupted by hostile governments' sanctions. But hidden behind the politically expedient complaints about sanctions is the reality that the mullahs brought the once booming oil industry low.

Oil is multi-national, and necessarily multi-cultural. Oil engineers are trained to think precisely and to analyze problems. These are not skills welcomed in theocracies. The mullahs spurned international involvement in their oil industry. They turned their backs on any need to maintain and repair the complex machinery that provided their cash flow. Punitive sanctions merely added to the destruction the mullahs wrought.

And this is the promise of those who want to impose sectarian corporate rule in the U.S. Oil is profitable. So all fundagelicals support the oil industry. Because environmental concerns necessarily cut into oil industry profits, fundagelicals reject god's COMMANDMENT to husband the world he created.

For similar reasons, fundagelicals oppose and would put an end to research and development of any technologies that might limit oil industry profits. Electric cars? L.E.D.s? Not part of god's plan. Perhaps they'd pass legislation to mandate the return of incandescent bulbs. If god wanted us to be energy efficient, he would never have given us oil.

tom hall

And just as the mullahs were terrified of universities that taught students to think, to research and experiment, to think critically and to ask questions, we see almost daily reports of "christian" private schools punishing and expelling students who ask questions, who act in "ungodly" way, who believe in science. Imagine what that would mean for public schools under a theocratic regime. Especially since public education has been under corporate and Republican attack for decades.

The Iranian Revolution happened more than 40 years ago. The Iranian people have lived under violence and cruelty in the name of religion for those 40 years. Dissent is called "blasphemy," and earns the death penalty. Even if the younger generation's widespread demonstrations force changes and return of some freedom, Iran has lost a half century to religious ignorance, bigotry and social violence. Iran has been deprived of major contributions by scholars and by the half of the population that is female.

That's what our corporate/religious leaders want to give us, while they, like the mullahs at the top of the Iranian pyramid, sit and enjoy the profits of power. Think that it can't happen here? Look at Mississippi, look at the (Catholic) Roberts Court giving corporations religious rights, while stripping voting rights from non-white voters.

It can happen here. It very well may happen here, if we, the voters keep sniping at those with whom we largely agree, and fail to replace the current leadership of corporate and religious hucksters.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall

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