Comparing the US and Iran causes a small storm in a tiny teacup


I had a couple of day-after-the-Fourth-metaphorically-speaking pieces ready to go, but a change of plan is in order given the overwhelming response to the series examining the US and Iranian systems. (Click here, here and here for said series.)

In the interests of transparency and fairness, below are a few readers’ comments. Mostly, they are fragments.  Some of these were publicly posted on various platforms; others were sent as messages via the platforms.  You can assess them for yourself. The general tone is mostly in the range of disapproving/outraged/appalled, but some readers expressed interest and appreciation.

For obvious reasons, I’m not providing the readers’ names (as and when I have them), nor their social media monikers. This means you won’t be able to ascertain the ethnicity or nationality of the person making the comment. Rest assured, that’s not a great handicap because mostly, neither can I. Social media identities don’t always offer any real clues to a person’s origins, nationality and affiliations.

But one giveaway can be the nature of the response.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that people – anywhere and everywhere – bridle at a perceived insult to their country, culture, cuisine etc.

So, in the case of the US-Iran series, it seems likely that American readers  are more firmly set against any attempt to compare the two systems. In fact, some readers did explicitly identify themselves as American. For the most part, they came across as startled and unpleasantly surprised by the effrontery of examining the US and Iranian systems in the same space. Some were caustic, others openly derisory. Some were so worked up, they commented on each of the three pieces. (In the fragments below, three comments are from  one person, but it is the only instance of one reader quoted multiple times.)

Then there were readers who seemed more relaxed about taking an exploratory look at two systems that are a world apart in physical distance, philosophical underpinnings, culture and rationalisation. These readers (might they mostly be non-Americans?) weren’t dismissive of the attempt to examine the US and Iran side by side. Equally, they  didn’t think the two systems were exactly the same, but then neither did any of my pieces say that. Mostly, these readers indicated curiosity about the very attempt to examine two systems that pride themselves, in their own particular way, on exceptionalism.

SOME READERS’ COMMENTS (edited/ shortened for clarity):

  • “I did enjoy this as satire. The comparison to Iran is so farcical this is perhaps a perfect entry for the Onion. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v Wade literally gave up unelected power to another branch of government. The power legalizing abortion in the land was once solely in the hands of 9 unelected individuals. Now the power rests in the hands of both our Congressional representative democracy or our Federalist system of individual States…the author of this piece should take a step back and realize how unbelievably fortunate we are to live in a country where the highest court in the land takes one of the most politically and morally controversial topics in our nation and throws it back at the people and says, ‘you figure it out’.”
  • “Having trouble working out if you’re for real.”
  • “How does someone get to be the Supreme Leader?  What are the requirements?  Who gets to select who the next one will be?”
  • “While difficult, there IS a process whereby a SCOTUS justice can be removed. And that process is impeachment…So, the process is there. It’s just that presently it most likely wouldn’t do us any good.
  • “However, it appears that the Supreme Leader can dictate to that President.  That makes the Supreme Leader, indeed, supreme.  So question I’m looking to get answered is: Who gets to decide who gets to be Supreme Leader, and what are the qualifications that MUST be met? And thank you for responding so quickly. Absolutely LOVE your stuff btw.”
  • “I found the similarities and dissimilarities interesting. Thanks for coming up with an interesting read.”
  • “What an interesting (eye-opening and thought-provoking) comparison!”
  • “Waste of time to read such rubbish.”
  • “I can’t believe that anyone could seriously compare the US and Iran. What planet are you on?”
  • “Disagree totally. The premise is far-fetched with no basis in fact. How can American democracy and liberty ever be compared with a regime that restricts women’s rights?”

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