The Other Iran

It's so important for us not to equate the Islamo-fascist nutters in the Tehran regime with the Iranian people themselves. One thing we have learned from Iraq. You can destroy tyranny; you can create an opening for democracy; but people have to choose democracy for themselves. In Iran, a huge majority would, but cannot. Here's one small story about a poetry club in Tehran - a group that specializes in reading English poetry and literature - that gives us a glimpse of what's beneath the surface. Money quote:

Meetings are held every Monday afternoon in the disused offices of the banned literary magazine Karnameh; dust coats the desks and the posters are all peeling, but such touches only add to the atmosphere. The members hail from a variety of backgrounds - they range from impoverished students to culturally concerned doctors and dentists - but all attend meetings with the kind of reverence that would humble those jaded by literary freedoms in the west.

Nor are their efforts purely recreational: when they're done with a poet their notes go to translators, who prepare Farsi versions that are printed and bound along with the original English texts. In a few years they hope to publish the first Modern English Poets in Farsi - assuming they can find a publisher.

"We like to think that all major movements begin with a handful of dedicated people," says Maryam Akbari, a member since day one, "and that's exactly what we are."

Keep hope alive.