Earlier this week, the earthquake of magnitude 6.7 struck about a mile north of Tehran in the western part of the city, killing at least 21 people and damaging countless buildings. No one anywhere near the epicenter could even have blamed the state TV announcer for reeling off a long list of the type of public buildings destroyed, then saying that the biggest headache is “people’s miseries.”
But really, TV anchor Hadura Shaji was as much blaming somebody else — the Iranians themselves. She was only referring to the unplanned eruption of Trump-like rage against President Hassan Rouhani this week, caused by his refusal to sign a stalled nuclear agreement with Western powers and waffling on Syria.
An exploded video of the original explosion: https://t.co/Pdbzni1y22 pic.twitter.com/4tvprBtq4L — ABC News (@ABC) May 28, 2017
That was as far as she got. Instead, she joked about ordering a tour of the Iranian Museum of Antiquities so she could sort the statistics about the building (280years old) and then the people (11 million). Perhaps because, ever since the eight-year presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — which provoked the Tehran earthquake and saw him hobble out with his family instead of his predecessor and adopted successor, Mohammad Khatami — Shaji has been downplaying the regime’s role in Iranian political culture.
In 2002, then during the presidential campaign, she angered young people of her generation when she said that they should “go with their interests and not those of their parents,” referring to voters who supported Khatami. The people were especially upset because she’d previously said Khatami “won’t be of much help to them” and that “they should keep their fingers crossed.”
The Iranians reinterpreting elections in a way that they hadn’t done before. pic.twitter.com/YLbywNaNSd — Emlouiser.meowp (@emlouisermeowp) May 24, 2017
“Iranians will see what kind of people Mr. Khatami really is during the election,” she told a delegation of students from Washington state.
Today, she’s more focused on what Iranians are imagining Iran to be — a new golden age, where they can expect everything within their reach. And of course, Rouhani is evil, like President Trump, for nothing but handing out “immense wealth to a few and running the government like a family business.”
At least they’re talking, to each other. There’s no telling what else this shattered city will hear in the days and weeks to come.