In Iran’s Elections, the People Reject Sham Democracy

On Friday, the Islamic Republic held its parliamentary elections, which delivered a resounding victory to the so-called “hardliners.” Or at least so it seems to the casual observer. In reality, two-thirds of those eligible to vote declined to do so, knowing full well that the outcomes were foreordained. Tamar Eilam Gindin explains:

[A] tiny council known as the Guardian Council of the Constitution, [whose] twelve members are directly or indirectly appointed by the supreme leader, [must] approve any laws passed by the parliament, and filters the candidates running in every election. Its members also learn from their own mistakes.

For example, after the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi didn’t win in 2009 and his supporters and regime opponents took to the streets, in 2013 the Guardian Council filtered the candidate list to exclude all “problematic” contenders. [This time], Iranians seeking change simply had no one for whom to vote.

The current election race, which follows on the heels of two gigantic protest waves—in November over gas prices, and in January over the regime’s attempt to cover up its role in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger airline—was largely characterized by immense resistance to the false pretense of democracy. There were photos and video footage of election banners being ripped up and torched, windows at various campaign headquarters being shattered, and people using “I don’t vote” [as an anti-regime] slogan. . . . The minuscule voter-turnout rate points to the people’s severe and persistent crisis of faith in the regime.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Democracy, Iran, Iranian election

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus