Thursday, September 21, 2006


[posted by Callimachus]

Big mistakes and little mistakes. Missed chances for a bit of honest propaganda; easy put-outs booted.

Anousheh Ansari became the first female space tourist, the first female Muslim in space and the first Iranian to venture off planet when she blasted off yesterday from Russia en route to the International Space Station. As you may know by now "Ansari and her family left Iran a few years after the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the pro-U.S. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power, in part because the opportunities for a young girl to study science were becoming limited there." Not only did Ansari study science in the United States, she turned that knowledge into billions of dollars. Hard to imagine what the morality police in Iran must think of all this if they even know about it ....

Unfortunately, the government of the United States failed to capitalize on this historic event. In a day and age where the Pope has to apologize for quoting a 14th century text in the face of violence (a nun killed and churches attacked, death threats made) the United States should be trumpeting the success of women such as Ansari. Her family could have fled anywhere in the world, and they chose the U.S., as millions of people have done and continue to do. Instead, we deny Ansari the chance to wear the Iranian flag with the American flag on her flight suit. This was a mistake for several reasons. First, she planned to wear the pre-revolution Iranian flag, and second, as our leaders have said so many times, our arguments are not with the people of countries such as Iran, but with their leaders. Imagine the power of the symbol that Ansari could have become as a Muslim woman who fled oppression to find love and fortune in the United States. I can picture her reminding the world that the new Iran is hardly improved, and that United States can still be the shining city upon the hill. Instead, we have demonstrated a knack for petty jealousy. Ansari's story is still inspiring, don't get me wrong. It is simply that you can't make stuff like this up, and we have missed a golden opportunity.

Dr. Demarche, writing at American Future.