Cliff May on the coarsening of culture in Iran since the Shahs overthrow in 1979:
Over the years since, anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans have become as ubiquitous in Iran as the easy-listening music pumped into shopping malls in the U.S. Maghen notes that these slogans are yelled by fans when goals are scored at soccer matches, and in response to bravura sitar solos in concert halls.
“Even during the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca,” he writes, “Iranian participants have replaced their traditionally pious ejaculations of ‘I am at your service, O Lord, there is none like unto You!’ with responsive Persian cursing sessions aimed at the Hebrew- and English-speaking enemies of everything that is holy. Like the daily ‘Two-Minutes Hate’ in George Orwell’s 1984, this venom-spewing is the mantra upon which an entire generation of Iranians has been raised.”
Conventional wisdom has held that such relentless repetition drains words of significance, and that most Iranians harbor no “heartfelt hatred” for Jews, Israelis, or Americans.
However, Maghen says, anyone familiar with mass psychology knows that “the truly horrific atrocities in human history — the enslavements, the inquisitions, the terrorisms, the genocides — have been perpetrated not in hot blood but in cold: not as a result of urgent and immanent feeling but in the name of a transcendent ideology and as a result of painstaking indoctrination.”