I have spent a large part of my post operation recovery, reading the book, "Guests of the Ayatollahs" by Mark Bowden, which was kindly sent to me by fellow Iranian blogger, Winston.
The book is almost 600 pages and it kept me well occupied, but more than that it was a great eye opener for me too. All I had known about the hostages was the few tame press interviews I had watched and the recent disastrous VOA Persian appearance by the most senior ranking former hostage, Bruce Laingen. Throughout their captivity, there were former school friends of mine and others that I knew about who were suffering much worse in Islamic Republic jails. The American hostages must have been better off and yet to me they seemed no way near as heroic as some of the Iranian teenagers who were standing defiant against the mullahs.
My heart went out to our own people who were in jail first and foremost, those who were forgotten by the world and never received any international attention, before I had any time to think about the plight of the US hostages whom appeared on TV conferences every now and then and said how friendly they were being treated .
The press conferences and TV interviews showed whole loads of international delegations of bishops, rabbis and university professors etc. who kept coming to Tehran to say hostages were looked after and the Islamic revolution was so wonderful. Naturally such shows did not help to increase my sympathies any further for the hostages.
What I did not realise was that not all the hostages were represented in these public TV shows. There were many who remained defiant throughout. Michael Metrinko, the political officer, for example, spent most of his time in solitary confinement and used every opportunity to taunt his captors, and so many other hostages on so many occasions did not bow their heads and its worth reading the book to learn about them.
It was only when I read the book that I learned the priest Darrell Rupiper, a man who epitomizes the term 'useful idiot', was given a note by AL Golacinski and Kevin Hermening written on a foil wrapper from a Wrigley spearmint gum, which described their ill treatment and poor conditions, but instead Rupiper handed the note to the hostage takers! Rupiper really was a USEFUL idiot!
The takeover of the US embassy, did not seem to me at the time, but it turned out to be a defining event which shaped the next three decades of Iran. The students who took over the embassy were pawns in the hands of the radical clerics who wanted to eliminate all their other political rivals in Iran. The feebleness of the Carter administration in not expecting the takeover and then not knowing what to do about it was another building block that made the Ayatollah's regime seem so invincible to the Iranian masses.
With the total consolidation of power by the most reactionary and backward section of the clerics, Iran entered a slippery slope of further curtailment of personal, political and civil liberties. The most progressive country in the region suddenly became comparable with the most backward countries in the region.
Towards the end of the book, Dick Morefield, the embassy consul is quoted to tell Ebtekar, the most prominent female hostage taker and US educated herself,
"Your children and your grandchildren are going to curse your name."
What a remarkable prediction at that time, for I believe the post-revolution generation of Iranians cringe at the thought of being reminded of what Ebtekar's mob did.
One thing puzzles me however, Ebtekar the hostage taker, has never regretted her prominent part in the hostage taking. She was appointed by Khatami in his cabinet as the first woman vice-president and the West still thought of Khatami as the best thing since sliced bread, and was charmed and impressed by his empty phrases of 'dialogue amongst civilisations'.
How many times in history must stupidity and credulity win over common sense?
I'm glad you enjoyed the read. It was indeed an eye-opener for me too!
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