Mixed Signals: Iranian Show Interferes With Warmonger Imagery

The catapulters of propaganda in the Bush Regime -- and their eager collaborators in the corporate media and throughout the rightwing bootlickosphere -- bombard us with relentless images of Iran as a dark and sinister land peopled by black-clad clerics and cranks: raving Hitlerian madmen, bent on the utter destruction of everything good and decent in the world.

So what do you think is one of the most popular TV shows in this hellhole of sectarian savagery? Something like "Terrorism in the Grip of Justice," the popular show in American-occupied Iraq, where the victims of obvious government torture are paraded on screen to confess their evil deeds? Or perhaps a 41-part series based on "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," produced by the Bush family friends in Saudi Arabia (where Bush's friends and business partners also teach the "Protocols" as fact in schools) and broadcast on state television by the American-backed tyrant in Egypt?

No, it's a series called "Zero Degree Turn," a glossy drama depicting a love affair between an Iranian diplomat and a French Jew in Paris during the Nazi occupation. As the BBC reports:

The central character is an Iranian diplomat, who provides false Iranian passports to enable Jews to flee the Nazi-occupied France, a sort of the Iranian Schindler. He even has a love affair with a Jewish woman.

The writer and director of the series, Hassan Fathi, says he used a true story from World War II to show the outside world they have the wrong impression of Iran. "In those terrible years there were many people who could help the Jews, but they didn't because they were afraid they would be arrested," Mr Fathi explains. "But some Iranians, when they saw they could save some Jews, they left their fear behind and did so - because of their character and their culture, their beliefs and their traditions."

...There is also a very genuine belief here in Iran's history of religious tolerance. There's a small Jewish community here, as well as Christian and other minorities (though the government has been criticised by human rights groups for its treatment of the Bahai minority). Most Iranians, even those taking part in the most ardent anti-Zionist demonstrations, would be quite shocked at any accusation that they are anti-Semitic.

The new TV series also happens to be extremely well produced, with music and cinematography up to the highest Hollywood standard. Week after week, Iranian audiences have been pulling out their handkerchiefs as the tragically doomed romance unfolds between an Iranian diplomat and a French Jewish woman.

But how can this be? We all know that Iran is a dictatorship controlled by the iron grip of the "new Hitler," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As we are constantly reminded by the wise of the West, he is the embodiment of the Iranian nation; his will is law, his crankery is policy, and his demonic lust for destruction cannot be contained by the thin reeds of diplomacy, but must be met with the full and righteous force of American military power.

Or can it be that -- o perish the thought! -- we have been somehow misled? Can it be that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not the supreme power in Iran? Can it be that Iran is a complex society, filled with the conflicts and contradictions and variegations in thought, belief and action that are characteristic of human beings throughout history?

And can it be possible that a national leader might not necessarily reflect the full depth and range of the intellectual, scientific, historical and cultural knowledge of the country whose government he temporarily leads? Surely such a thing could only happen in a dark and sinister land far across the ocean, and never where clean and decent folk have made their Godly abode.