Monday, March 12, 2007

Self-Esteem and the Iranians

Ahmadinejad Spins a Yarn

I've long thought that many in the West underestimate or misunderstand altogether the role of Persian "self-esteem" in propelling the conflict forward. This is something I hope to take up in a future post. Of course this is not entirely off the Bush team's radar. Just last month, in unveiling to the press accusations of Iranian involvement in the production of roadside bombs used in Iraq, Bush spoke of the Iranian people's "proud history." And just last week, R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said of the Iranians, "They are a proud, well-educated people with a rich history."

Ahmadinejad's mastery of manipulating this emotion can only be gauged by someone who understands Farsi. Still, I thought I would post this notorious clip, which, I'm told, demonstrates this nicely. In it the Iranian President boasts of the native genius of a 16 year-old girl who discovered nuclear energy in her basement! Wikiquote had this translation:
"A high school student contacted me a little while ago, telling me "Mr. [Ahmadinejad]! We got a 13-16 year old girl, third year high school student, majoring in math/physics. She came to me saying, Ms. teacher I've discovered nuclear energy in our house. "Do something about it" I told her to set up a meeting at school, ask [the student] couple of questions, check how serious she is. They hold the meeting, examined her, and realized it looks to be serious. They informed me, [then] I called the head of the Iranian Atomic Agency and told him: "Dear Sir! A high school girl says something like this! Verify [her claim], if she's right then support her" [They] invited our nuclear scientist-whose average age is below 25. [The nuclear scientists] set up a meeting and invited her to inquiry. They found out she is right. They told her let's go to your house and see what are you up to. They went to her house and realized this 3rd year high school girl, with the help of her elder brother, has got some gadgets from the bazaar, assembled them and produced nuclear energy, FOR REAL! So now, [nuclear scientists] have [hired] her- now she's a nuclear scientist too. They have set up an escort for her, [she] comes, goes, has driving service, a chauffeur! This is self esteem!"


Afshin said...

The language of this speech is quite informal, too. He's definitely speaking as "one of the crowd." In the first portion of this clip, he's talking about the discovery of stem cells by Iranian scientists. But one of the operative sections of his clip comes right before the portion you have in the translation:

"The enemy wants to tell us that we cannot [achieve these things]. We must shout out loud, young people, nation of Iran, we can!"

Amos said...

LOL. Thanks, Afshin.