Cracked has a great piece that shows a side of Iranian culture and society few people in the West appreciate: namely that Iranians — who number around 72 million and span different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds — are not slavish Islamic radicals with a fetish for hating American.
Yes, there are elements of Iranian society, particularly in the upper echelons of power, who are fanatical, corrupt, oppressive, and otherwise in keeping with the negative stereotypes — but this is a tautology, as every nation and community has its good and its bad. To boil down such a large and diverse country with so rich a history to this two-dimensional caricature of inhuman fanatic is as factually wrong as it is unethical.
So let an otherwise comedic source give you a down-to-Earth perspective on one of the world’s most complex and long-lasting civilizations, like with this observation:
While I had stumbled across one of the largest celebrations of the Islamic Revolution ever, the reality is that the “Death to America” stuff is actually going out of style. Everyone from politicians to newspaper editors has basically said, “Guys, you’re kinda making us look like dicks,” and popular opinion is with them. If you arranged every Iranian presidential candidate since the ’90s on a “Lotsa Death” to “Cool It With the Death” continuum, candidates on the latter end have been vastly more successful than those who have adopted a more expressly pro-death-of-America stance.
For example, former president Mohammad Khatami is best known for pursuing a “dialogue among civilizations” with the U.N. and won his election and re-election through multiple consecutive landslides. Current president Hassan Rouhani ran on a “less death, more talking” platform as well and went home with a respectable 50 percent of the vote, while the more pro-death candidates were stuck scraping the bottom of the voting barrel.
The ultimate lesson here is that there is more to a society or culture than its (often unrepresentative) political system and / or the small and selective glance offered by media or special interest groups.