“All the interesting people I know are in jail,”
“I am very reluctant to put you in touch with people,” ...
“I am not worried about you at all; it is people who visit you that may be put in jeopardy. I am not being paranoid, it is just that the place has become very unpredictable. I cannot figure out the logic of who they pick up and why.”
“We don't like the government, but we cannot change it,” ... “They punish us when we protest. People are afraid.”
“Thirty-five percent of Iranians like this government and Ahmadinejad, ... “Twenty-five percent are against. The rest don't care."
“We can't do anything,” ... “If we do something, the police come and put us in jail. It is very tight here.”
“There are so many limitations on us — on our dress, our relations with boyfriends, our chances to have fun together,” ... . “We want to take off our head scarves, but it's not possible. All we can do is live and stay quiet.”
“I voted, but I don't believe my vote was counted,” ... “Many who voted last time won't vote next time. I'm one of them.”
“Intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan has brought nothing but death and suffering,” ... “We don't want that. Above all, we want to preserve peace in our country. We would rather live under a regime we don't like than one that is placed in power by foreigners.”
“What worries us is Pakistan,” ... “We don't have anything like the Taliban or Al Qaeda in Iran. Crazy fanatics are not going to take power here, but in Pakistan it could happen any day. We can't understand why the Americans allowed Pakistan to become a nuclear power but are so upset about Iran.”
“Nobody can prevent us from having democracy in our country,” .... “It is our wish and our right. But it will take time. You cannot change a very strong government in a few months.”
These statements reflect the diverse views of people Kinzer met by chance, but they reveal some of the sentiments in place now after a year of demonstrations and brutal government crackdowns. As Kinzer notes, government brutality pays, as it has for generations past. That of course says nothing about the human yearnings for something more, something more authentically just. So the world waits . . .
Some of us perversely insist that it will indeed come. . . .