Over 40 years ago, I lost my country. Next week, Americans may lose theirs.

Photo credit: Amy Chung; Pexels.com

A charismatic personality enters the political realm and stirs up a great deal of excitement, eventually amassing an adoring following among a large segment of the nation’s population, albeit the minority. Promises are made about a better life for the people as well as policies which will be dramatically different than those of the incumbent. The media goes where the people are and together, the combined energy of these forces whips things into a frenzy. The new electric environment causes people to become even more excited about the bright future which lies ahead and then voila, before you know it, the charismatic personality has ascended to power.

So far, this story should sound familiar to Americans. In the run-up to the 2016 election, this is essentially what happened when Donald Trump came on the scene and the rest is history.

However, the scenario that I just described doesn’t pertain to America in 2016. I’m actually describing Iran in the period between 1978–1979, just before the disastrous Islamic Revolution. I’m Iranian (by birth) and even though I was a child by the time my family fled Iran for Europe and eventually the US, I remember the circumstances leading up to our departure in vivid detail. The passage of four decades hasn’t erased the trauma and pain from my memory and I’m fearful that life has come full circle such that what happened in Iran so many years ago may indeed occur in this country. That is a chilling thought and one which should frighten all of us into action as it pertains to the importance of every vote being counted in the US election.

What I want to try and impress upon Americans who may be reading this post is that you don’t realize how eerily similar the situation is between the US in 2020 and Iran on the eve of the 1979 revolution.

Back then, an old white-haired bearded fundamentalist Islamic cleric (whose name I don’t even want to mention) eventually took power in Iran and promised a lot of things to the Iranian population. He demonized his predecessor and promised that as Iran’s new leader, the nation would reach new heights, both domestically as well as on the world stage. Instead, what ended up happening was that the freedoms of the Iranian people were whittled away one-by-one, little-by-little and then all at once all of a sudden. Modern Iranian women who followed the latest fashions out of Europe and wore miniskirts to University were forced to wear the Islamic hijab and were relegated to second class citizens who are treated like farm animals. The new government outlawed basic freedoms such as singing, dancing, and reading Western literature, among others. They tortured, killed and imprisoned their political enemies as well as members of non-Islamic religious minorities. The whole time they were doing this, the families which make up the government’s inner circle systematically looted the nation’s wealth and enriched themselves such that now, even more than 40 years later, they continue to practice these policies and have successfully maintained a stranglehold over Iran and its people.

Keeping this in mind, look at what has happened to America in the span of just four years with Trump in power. He told you he was going to “Make America Great Again”. Is that what has happened? In 2020, is America in fact now “great”? Who would have thought that it would take just under four years to practically undo what America had achieved in the preceding 240 years? Trump himself is an empty vessel with no discernible ideological bent. Sure, he’s a sick narcissist full of rage and hatred but he’s a coward so he has managed to surround himself with demented individuals who have been more than willing to shape and carry out his policies.

The comparison with Iran comes into focus when you look at the fact that nearly everyone who Trump surrounds himself with is a hard-line Christian fundamentalist fanatic. All religious fanatics are the same — it doesn’t matter what their actual religion is — the main requirement is that they are religious zealots who believe in a strict interpretation of religious texts/doctrines. It’s the religious fundamentalist mentality which poses the greatest danger to the United States, and invariably, to the American people and the American way of life.

I want to make it clear that this is not a rant against religion. I believe in everyone’s freedom to exercise their religion in a way which is sane and peaceful, the way it was intended. My aim is simply to warn Americans that they are about to lose many/most of the freedoms that they hold so dear. If the religious fanatics in the Trump administration are allowed to govern for another term, America will surely be lost, perhaps forever. Just like the fanatic Islamic clerics who ruined Iran by turning back the clock 1400 years, the Christian fanatics currently in power will surely destroy the US by going back even further if they are allowed to remain in power, perhaps as far as Biblical times.

Christianity at its most extreme is the common denominator of nearly everyone close to Trump (there are a few exceptions here and there). Pence is a Christian fundamentalist — it’s a joke that he’s in charge of the COVID19 task force because he doesn’t believe in science. How can someone who believes that the Earth is 6,000 years old attempt to square that with actual science and scientific principles? They can’t and they don’t. Pompeo is a Christian fanatic. In past interviews, he’s admitted that he keeps the Bible open on his State Department desk — this is the guy representing the US on the world stage. Betsy DeVos (who ironically doesn’t appear as though she has an actual education, elite or otherwise) has admitted that she’s on a mission to establish “God’s Kingdom”. Her evil brother, Erik Prince, took his Blackwater mercenaries into the Middle East so that he could embark on a Christian crusade against Islam. Ben Carson, the HUD Secretary, is another example of a Cabinet member who is a Christian fanatic.

The disturbing ratio of Christian fundamentalists doesn’t just pertain to the Cabinet, rather it also extends to the Supreme Court justices. With the addition of Amy Coney Barrett (who belonged to a Catholic cult known as the People of Praise), there are now a total of seven Catholics on the US Supreme Court. Every freedom which has to do with equal rights for LGBTQ, as well as a woman’s right to choose, voting rights protections for minorities, etc., and countless others, are going to be spliced and diced under a religious microscope which can render America unrecognizable in the not-too-distant future.

Even the press secretary who somehow managed to be admitted to, and apparently even graduated from, Harvard Law School, engages in virtue signaling by accessorizing her gaudy bright colored outfits in the White House briefing room with a dangling cross pendant whenever she is in front of the cameras.

If all of that isn’t disturbing enough, Trump’s trailer trash spiritual adviser/pastor has set up shop inside the White House. A staunch proponent of the “Prosperity Gospel”, she’s on record for having recommended to her evangelical audience that they should skip paying their bills and should instead redirect their meager funds to her church so that in return, they can receive divine “blessings”. This is also a favorite tactic used by the Islamic clerics in Iran who prey upon their victims, usually the poorest and most illiterate members of society. They will stop at nothing to line their own pockets.

The mullahs in Iran’s government have established a kleptocratic theocracy and when necessary, they will use brute force to dominate the Iranian population. All you have to do is to look at archival footage of how they’ve been willing to kill young Iranian protestors who have dared to take to the streets to proclaim their desire for a better life. Sadly, here in America, the US government has shown all of us and the world that they are willing to do the same thing. From gassing DC protestors to actually shooting protestors in Portland, these same brutal Christian fundamentalists will not hesitate to crush anyone who gets in their way.

I want to reiterate that my sentiments are not based on an anti-religious or an anti-Christian bias. I believe in the freedom of religion for all people and I believe in an individual’s right to choose to follow (or not to follow) a particular religion.

However, I believe that the US should remain a secular nation. There is no place for religion in government. I’ve experienced firsthand the disaster that can result once a freedom-loving nation becomes brutally oppressed by a theocratic dictatorship. I implore every American to take heed that the possibility of the influence of fundamentalist Christianity at the highest levels of the US government is a very real and dangerous one which will halt the progress of this nation for generations to come. The primary goal of the current administration is to alter the fabric of American society according to a religious vision which is based on fundamentalist Christianity and if that is allowed to happen, America is doomed, perhaps forever.

Don’t wait 40 years to come to your senses. Don’t allow a handful of racist and hateful Americans to destroy the future of the entire population.

Please vote now. Vote for yourself. Vote for all of us. Vote for America.

Citoyenne du monde