Tuesday, May 11, 2004

When it comes to planting the seeds of Democracy, the United States does not have a green thumb. It's not like growing squash. You can't just pull up a few weeds and pat a little soil down over the seed of Democracy. Everytime we try it, instead of getting squash, we get the bride of Frankenstein: Vietnam, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq.

But last week in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof wrote two columns describing the current political mood of Iran, and both were surprisingly upbeat. Left to themselves, Iranians seem to be finding their own way to democracy and changing their minds about the Great Satan.

These days most Iranians love America. One opinion poll showed that 74 percent of Iranians want a dialogue with the U.S. — and the finding so irritated the authorities that they arrested the pollster. Iran is also the only Muslim country I know where citizens responded to the 9/11 attacks with a spontaneous candlelight vigil as a show of sympathy. Click here to read about a pro-American country.

Young Iranians, especially, are disgusted with repressive mullahs and determined to enjoy life. And since the mullahs themselves exhorted people to be fruitful and multiply, sixty percent of the population is now under twenty-five. Young women have found ways to make their chadors and headscarves sexy, and "young women in such clothing aren't getting 74 lashes any more — they're getting dates." How do you make a chador sexy? Find out.

Perhaps as a nation, we should switch from a gardening metaphor to shepherding:

Little Bo-peep has lost her sheep
And can't tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
And bring their tails behind them.

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