The Multiethnic State of Iran

Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iran…,” by Razib, Gene Expression, 16 July 2006,

My friends over at Coming Anarchy have fun with ethnogeography, even involved featuring ethnic maps of China, Thailand, Turkestan (twice!). Certainly it’s time for one one Iran, especially with interesting facts like this:

Iran’s diverse population should be fertile ground for a covert operation. Iran is only 51 percent Persian. Azerbaijanis and Kurds comprise nearly 35 percent of the population. Seventy percent are under 30, and the jobless rate hovers near 20 percent.

The current Supreme Leader of Iran is an ethnic Azeri. Azeris are prominent in the military and in business. They are likely overrepresented in the clerical caste. The original capital of the Safavids, the dynasty which created the modern Shia identity of Iran 500 years ago, was in Tabriz, in the heart of Azeri country. The rulers of Iran up until the 20th century were usually Turkic, and could be argued to have been Azeri. I will admit I don’t know much about the details right now, but when I see blatantly implausible contentions being thrown out there, I smell something rotten….

The concept of a multiethnic Iran is important, because Iran’s Shia friends find themselves in Multiethnic Lebanon.

In a comment on the ensuring discussion, blogger Razib writes

1) there is a small azeri nation next door, which is poorer than they are (3 times as many azeris live in iran as in the nation-state with that name).

2) the azeris dominate the military, the current de facto head of state is an azeri ethnically, as is the head of the revolutionary guards.

3) historically azeris and their affinal turks dominated the temporal posts in the state, and it can be argued that they founded the modern nation of iran bounded with its current geography united by a shia religion.

Read the whole thing.

Positive Review of "Lady in the Water" by M. Night Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan is best known for his 1999 movie The Sixth Sense. That movie became famous for a last scene that completely changed the meaning of nearly every scene that preceded it. The country was swept up by the wonder that writer/director Shyamalan created through that twist ending, and the rest of Shyamalan’s career until now has been an attempt to re-create that moment.

The two movies that followed The Sixth Sense, 2000’s Unbreakable and 2002 Signs, were not able to reach this goal. The ending of Unbreakable was nearly identical to The Sixth Sense (they even use the same actor — Bruce Willis — for the protagonist), while Signs aimed for a feeling of warmth by the end instead of a change in meaning.

Shyamalan’s fourth film — The Village — was a return to the medium that made him famous. It was not just the movie’s “twist ending” — nor the identity and nature of the Creatures surrounding The Village, nor the properties of the forbidden woods — but that it was a horror tale in the greatest tradition. Indeed, The Village reaches further into the horror genre than The Sixth Sense did, showing us not just a strange world that should not be, but a familiar world that must not be.

The Village is terrible — full of terror — because we see nearly everything through the villain’s eyes. Other movies of course attempt this, 2001’s Donnie Darko notable coming very close, but the relentlessness of The Village is exceptions. As feeling human beings, we believe that if we understand someone’s motives — if they have the emotions that we do, and the needs that we do — then their actions cannot be horrible. The Village shatters this helpful illusion, portraying the hideous control of a madman over a hamlet without breaking out of the madman’s world.

Yet if The Sixth Sense and The Village are Tragedies, in the classic sense, then Lady in the Water is a true Comedy. Throughout the movie action inevitable builds, but the viewer must always wonder: “If this The Village again? Is that man mad.” The subtle claustrophobia of The Village returns, even stronger now that one looks for it, and one is painfully aware that no alternative perspective is available. Flashes of what other characters see are gut wrenching, yet even here the audience is deceived. Apparent gibbering madness and drug-induced dementia are laughed off, truly showing Shymalan’s ability to exploit film’s ability of misdirection to the hilt.

Brilliant movies are comprehensible on many levels, and Lady in the Water is brilliant. Not only is it a Comedy in the sense of being anti-Tragedy, it is a comedy in the sense of being funny. The audience in the theatre was often laughing, and the happiness in the room was wonderful. (The comedy is also probably what earned the movie hateful reviews, such as Medved’s comment that the movie is “a full-out, flamboyant cinematic disaster, a work of nearly unparalleled arrogance and vapidity”: a film critic is the main target of human relief. Some of his best lines would give away plot points to reproduce here, but let it be said that film critics in this movie are treated as lawyers are in many others.)

I am very happy to have seen Lady in the Water. You will be too. Goo see it.

Bush Protects Civil Society from Leftism/Establishmentarianism

Civil Rights Hiring Shifted in Bush Era,” by Charlie Savage, Global Staff, 23 Jule 2006, (from MyDD).

Whatever one may think of his weakened foreign policy, Bush’s domestic cultural policy is still going strong. Indeed, as a cross-party, more or less globalist, consensus has been in charge of America’s foreign policy since 1977, focusing on domestic cultural concerns may be the clearest place for Bush to leave his mark.

Bush realizes that the greatest threat to a society comes from its government, because only the government has the ability to crush civil societies by passing onerous laws (a process of replacing “horizontal controls” with “vertical controls”):

Robert Driscoll , a deputy assistant attorney general over the division from 2001 to 2003, said many of the longtime career civil rights attorneys wanted to bring big cases on behalf of racial groups based on statistical disparities in hiring, even without evidence of intentional discrimination. Conservatives, he said, prefer to focus on cases that protect individuals from government abuses of power.

The President is doing this in the context of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft switched the hiring processes, insisting on greater democratic oversight of hiring. This has lessened the Leftist..

Hiring only lawyers from civil rights groups would “set the table for a permanent left-wing career class,” Driscoll said.

and Eastern Establishmentarian

The academic credentials of the lawyers hired into the division also underwent a shift at this time, the documents show. Attorneys hired by the career hiring committees largely came from Eastern law schools with elite reputations, while a greater proportion of the political appointees’ hires instead attended Southern and Midwestern law schools with conservative reputations.

structural discrimination in the department, rolling back two very dangerous ideologies.

I support President Bush for great actions such as this.

Mr. President, thank you.