Rick Steves: A Perspective on Iran

While you can watch the video above (be patient for it to buffer), you can also watch the complete video here. Since it is long (over an hour including the question & answer portion at the end) from that link, you can jump through different sections at the bottom of the video.

For the most part he’s far too easy on Iran. He white-washes the treatment of women, citing for example that a separate car in the subway is out of respect for women. He somehow manages to bypass the myriad abuses and infringements of women’s rights in Iran. I don’t know if this is because of sheer ignorance or because he is so adamant about trying to see things through another perspective.

To see what he says about the treatment of Baha’is, jump to chapter 13: Religious Freedom. His conclusion is, “if you’re a Baha’i, get out of Iran“.

Steves also concedes that there is no religious freedom but then says that the same ‘tyranny of the majority’ exists in the US. While the US or any western democratic country is not perfect, such a comparison is completely without merit. The whole world was witness just a few months ago to the rule of democracy and meritocracy in the US. Something which has been wholly annihilated in Iran – as can be seen by the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International (Iran is #141 for 2008).

Something else which struck me is that he claims that Ahmadinejad came to power because of a populous dislike of the US (caused by the Bush administrations ill advised wars). This is incorrect. Ahmadinejad was brought to power by powerbrokers (Hojatieh Society) behind the scene that wanted an easily manipulated puppet that would implement their agenda to take the country further and further into fundamentalism.

The biggest mistake that Steves makes is to assume that Iran is in the mess that it is because a group of well-meaning, “family values” oriented folks are in charge. The truth is that Iran is controlled by a power hungry, kleptocrats that are using religion as a tool to enslave and manipulate.

  • http://kaweah.com/blog Dan Jensen

    Thanks, Baquia. I don't think that I could agree more. Though I recognize that Steves begins with the disclaimer that he's only going to show us what the Ayatollahs want us to see, I don't see the point in listening to someone who begins by saying. "Hi. I'm a pathological liar." And as if that weren't enough, he feeds us all these transparent excuses.

  • http://kaweah.com/blog Dan Jensen

    Thanks, Baquia. I don't think that I could agree more. Though I recognize that Steves begins with the disclaimer that he's only going to show us what the Ayatollahs want us to see, I don't see the point in listening to someone who begins by saying. "Hi. I'm a pathological liar." And as if that weren't enough, he feeds us all these transparent excuses.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Get over it and watch the video, Dan. :-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Get over it and watch the video, Dan. :-)

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Get over it and watch the video, Dan. :-)

    I think the deal is that Steves has travelled a lot with an open mind and has lost his insularity. He knows that most of the world is very ambivalent about the US, and for good reason. He's appalled at US foreign policy, its vote on such things as landmines/global warming/embargoes on Cuba/third world debt relief, and its hypocrisy regarding nukes, (check out chapter 27) so he's not about to offer value judgements on the way things are done in Iran.

    Yes, he is adamant about trying to see things through another perspective. Hooray for every US citizen who does that.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Get over it and watch the video, Dan. :-)

    I think the deal is that Steves has travelled a lot with an open mind and has lost his insularity. He knows that most of the world is very ambivalent about the US, and for good reason. He's appalled at US foreign policy, its vote on such things as landmines/global warming/embargoes on Cuba/third world debt relief, and its hypocrisy regarding nukes, (check out chapter 27) so he's not about to offer value judgements on the way things are done in Iran.

    Yes, he is adamant about trying to see things through another perspective. Hooray for every US citizen who does that.

  • Pey

    It's fine to see things through another perspective, but at some point human rights are human rights- period. So if discrimination occurs inside the US, or Iran or the Bahai community- you have to call people out on it. Anyone who stands up in front of an audience ands says- oh well that's the way it is, isn't helping anything.

  • Pey

    It's fine to see things through another perspective, but at some point human rights are human rights- period. So if discrimination occurs inside the US, or Iran or the Bahai community- you have to call people out on it. Anyone who stands up in front of an audience ands says- oh well that's the way it is, isn't helping anything.

  • Matt

    I agree with Pey. You do have to call people out on injustices, and you can't be selective about it. The problem is that the majority of media outlets (and governments) in the U.S., and some in the UK are very selective. Political interests are taken into consideration. For instance, the U.S. still has not acknowledge the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks in 1915. This is because Turkey is an ally of the U.S., especially now in regards to the U.S. interests in Iraq. Turkey strongly denies any genocide took place. So, if the U.S. were to acknowledge this event, it would be like a slap in the face to Turkey.

    But since Iran doesn't have anything to offer to the U.S., the U.S. can then decry the human rights violations of the Iranian government, and make a humanitarian case against it. This selective humanitarian urge on the part of governments is what sours a lot of people. When it suits governments, they will turn their head away from a humanitarian crime, and when it suits them they will deplore it and appeal to people's consciences. It is complete hypocrisy.

  • Matt

    I agree with Pey. You do have to call people out on injustices, and you can't be selective about it. The problem is that the majority of media outlets (and governments) in the U.S., and some in the UK are very selective. Political interests are taken into consideration. For instance, the U.S. still has not acknowledge the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks in 1915. This is because Turkey is an ally of the U.S., especially now in regards to the U.S. interests in Iraq. Turkey strongly denies any genocide took place. So, if the U.S. were to acknowledge this event, it would be like a slap in the face to Turkey.

    But since Iran doesn't have anything to offer to the U.S., the U.S. can then decry the human rights violations of the Iranian government, and make a humanitarian case against it. This selective humanitarian urge on the part of governments is what sours a lot of people. When it suits governments, they will turn their head away from a humanitarian crime, and when it suits them they will deplore it and appeal to people's consciences. It is complete hypocrisy.

  • Randy Burns

    Rick Steves is a travelogue guy. He makes tapes to instruct people how to travel and enjoy themselves all over Europe and has recently begun to branch out to other countries. He is not a political expert, his job is to give people the information they might need to stay out of trouble and to enjoy their visit.

    Cheers, Randy

  • Randy Burns

    Rick Steves is a travelogue guy. He makes tapes to instruct people how to travel and enjoy themselves all over Europe and has recently begun to branch out to other countries. He is not a political expert, his job is to give people the information they might need to stay out of trouble and to enjoy their visit.

    Cheers, Randy

  • http://www.wahidazal.com Wahid Azal

    A point of correction to your piece. The Baha'i propaganda in the West together with interests within the media conglomerate in North American have continually associated Ahmadinejad with the Hojjatiyya Society. You might wish to note that the Hojjatiya society was officially disbanded by Khomeini in the early 1980s and its leader Shaykh Halabi came out against Khomeini and was briefly even imprisoned. Association with the founders and platform of the Hojjatiya automatically would exclude someone from the elite of the regime, let alone election to the presidency, since the early post-revolutionary platform of this organization was that Khomeini's guardianship of the jurisprudent (vilayat-i-faqih) and his appelation as Imam is tout court heresy. As such Ahmadinejad's association with this group and the claim that they brought him to power is completely fictitious and has no substance in reality – yet it is being endlessly propagated.

  • http://www.wahidazal.com Wahid Azal

    A point of correction to your piece. The Baha'i propaganda in the West together with interests within the media conglomerate in North American have continually associated Ahmadinejad with the Hojjatiyya Society. You might wish to note that the Hojjatiya society was officially disbanded by Khomeini in the early 1980s and its leader Shaykh Halabi came out against Khomeini and was briefly even imprisoned. Association with the founders and platform of the Hojjatiya automatically would exclude someone from the elite of the regime, let alone election to the presidency, since the early post-revolutionary platform of this organization was that Khomeini's guardianship of the jurisprudent (vilayat-i-faqih) and his appelation as Imam is tout court heresy. As such Ahmadinejad's association with this group and the claim that they brought him to power is completely fictitious and has no substance in reality – yet it is being endlessly propagated.

  • http://www.wahidazal.com Wahid Azal

    Michael Fischer details the rise and fall of the Hojjatiya in his book DEBATING MUSLIMS: Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition (1980), which highlights Bahaism in quite extensive of detail. You might wish look at it,
    http://books.google.com.au/books?id=J5RGlpx0j8sC&…

    Given this, the claim by the Baha'i propaganda and its North American media friends about Ahmadinejad's hojjati association is as ridiculous as in the hypothetical scenario of a Remeyite being appointed to the ITC by the UHJ. It just doesn't happen.

    Wahid

  • http://www.wahidazal.com Wahid Azal

    Michael Fischer details the rise and fall of the Hojjatiya in his book DEBATING MUSLIMS: Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition (1980), which highlights Bahaism in quite extensive of detail. You might wish look at it,
    http://books.google.com.au/books?id=J5RGlpx0j8sC&

    Given this, the claim by the Baha'i propaganda and its North American media friends about Ahmadinejad's hojjati association is as ridiculous as in the hypothetical scenario of a Remeyite being appointed to the ITC by the UHJ. It just doesn't happen.

    Wahid