Group Story

Posted by ADAM

A few years ago when I was living in France, Teresa and I wrote a story. One of us would write an installment in a notebook and send that notebook through the mail to the other who would write the next installment. We talked about doing it again on a blog ever since. Well, inspired by recent events, I would like to offer this beginning of a story for Teresa or any other of the Revolving Door bloggers to continue.


It was nine o’clock in the evening. It was Monday, June 29. The country was licking its wounds after another day of relentless attacks on green protestors by police and Basji vigilante groups. TVs were flipping on all over the country. Ali Khamenei flipped his on.

These had been troubling weeks and the Grand Ayatollah was working late. He’d been eating antacids like popcorn ever since the election and trying to wrap his mind around the Internet. To him, it belonged to a different world. Ali was a politician but he had been a spiritual man first and there was something crass about the web that had always repelled him. Add to that his country’s isolation, his age (he would turn seventy in less than a month) and the fact that he had spent twenty years, the entire life of the Internet, as his country’s Supreme Leader. He hadn’t driven a car himself in all that time. He hadn’t done his laundry. He certainly had never surfed the web, there were secretaries and assistants and advisors for that. It had always seemed like something beneath his interest but now when one silly girl gets herself shot at a protest and it’s all over the world in minutes now thanks to this pernicious invention.

“It’s like a new world,” he said to himself quietly, without bitterness, and then left off thinking about it. President Obama was about to speak on State Television.

For now the government station was running a piece about Ahmadinejad. What an idiot, Ali thought. Any fool could have fixed an election better. You only need 51 percent to win an election. The rest is just for your ego. Why not make the margin narrower and then engineer yourself a narrow victory in the second round? It would be more believable. Now every time Ali went on TV and claimed Mahmoud had won, fair and square, no one believed him. I look like an idiot too, he thought darkly. Only a fool would believe me. Fortunately we have plenty of those in Iran, like in any other country.

On the TV, Ali could see Obama walking to the podium in the White House press room, thousands of miles away. Ali prayed he would slip up. So far the American president hadn’t said much that Ali could use to fan fear of foreign involvement in the protests. Perhaps tonight.

“Tonight I have a message for the people of Iran,” said Obama, as a Persian translator dubbed his voice. “I want to dispel the vicious rumor that the United States and Israel rigged the disputed Iranian elections in President Admadineajad’s favor. There have been charges in certain quarters that the CIA and the Israeli Mossad manipulated the election because because President Admadineajad was more likely to give us an excuse to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. This is a patently false allegation. It slanders the character of the United States of America. Tonight I have a message for all Iranians. This nation desires nothing but continued peaceful co-existence with Iran.”

Obama spoke for a few more minutes but Ali didn’t need to listen. He knew that the massive network of e-mails and text messages and tweets of which he knew so little had already jumped to life with this new injection of information.

Obama’s gambit was clear enough. Firstly, Ali had never heard the rumor the President had mentioned. It had no following in Iran. If it existed at all it was very obscure. A presidential denial would do nothing but catapult it to global prominence. Ali knew the very idea that Americans and Israelis had influenced the election in Admadineajad’s favor was ridiculous. The whole Guardian Council knew Mahmoud had fixed the vote himself. But none of it mattered. The Internet moved ten times faster than the speed of reason. The only people Ali had had any luck in convincing that the election was real were the paranoid fools who believed Americans were inciting the protesters. The new rumor that Obama had just planted was just the sort of ridiculous thing they would latch onto.

Ali ate another antacid and buried his face in his hands. He had no idea what would happen next but he knew there would be sleepless nights to come.

Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 4:48 PM  Leave a Comment  

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