The new movie “300”: A call for war with Iran


Though a masterful production, “300” is a slick, conniving and equally masterful attempt at character assassination. Filled with historical inaccuracies, the movie is deftly intended to portray the Persians, today’s Iranians, as barbaric monsters even when, by 480 B.C., they had formed “the first true empire before that of Rome,” according to P.R.S. Moorey of Oxford University.This distorted plot justifies mythology as history and fiction as fact. It is crafty and intended to brainwash the audience.

Opinion: The new movie 300: A call for war with Iran

Yes, Hollywood has always taken advantage of public mood of the time to make profit. The desire for monetary reward is fine, but malicious intent is dirty. This flick is clearly designed to sway young Westerners into warfare against Iran at a time when the war hawks are feverishly lobbying for military attack on Iran. It might as well be a promotional video for Neo-Cons. “300” glorifies militarism and bloodletting as great virtues, while depicting the Persians of 2500 years ago as the “Dark Force.” The movie implies that the Persians of today are equally devious.

Firstly, the Persian royalty and military commanders of that era were Aryan and white, of the same stock as the Spartans, Macedonians and Greeks. When Cyrus founded the Persian Empire in 559 B.C., he established the first official code of human and civil rights. The kingdoms of the Empire were mandated to allow religious and racial freedom. After conquering Babylon, Cyrus’s first official act was to free the Jews from bondage. Persian monarchs of his dynasty never claimed divinity. This film is an insult to the non-white people of the world–the entire Persian army is black. It is a malicious attempt to influence especially the younger male viewers into embracing warfare as a way of life. (The theater was full of teenagers.) It clearly pounds on you the notion that white European is superior to others.

It is true that the Persians invaded the Greek states and fought many wars with them. Unfortunately, this is what empires do. Persians themselves were repeatedly ruled by others before they became dominant. But, that was then. What about the current “American Empire,” which only a few years ago invaded Iraq unilaterally and against the charter of the United Nations? Shall we indict the entire population of the U.S.A. as barbarian because of the actions of its leaders? Should the cruelty of Abu Ghraib and the slaughter of Vietnamese be used as justification to condemn the totality of American culture? What about Jefferson, who incidentally admired Cyrus? What about the Bill of Rights, abolition of slavery, Declaration Of Human Rights, the Marshall Plan? What about Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony,Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King and Margaret Mead?

True, Xerxes was handed over the greatest empire the world had seen. True, he was spoiled and corrupted. But he also managed a super power with 200 main ethnic groups spread over two million miles. He was ruthless, but not a multi-sexual lunatic as the movie proclaims.

History tells the story of Spartans as being excellent warriors. And, as in other Greek societies, they had advanced in arts, sciences, social development and political democracy. We know Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. We have read about one-man-one-vote in autonomous city-nations. But there was much warfare between them. They, finally united as a reaction to the invasions by the Persians. The telling of history is not, however, the purpose of this movie. The aim is to indoctrinate and herd the young into warfare, especially against Iranians. Otherwise, the writers and producers could have given fictitious names to nations and characters, like Star Wars series. So, let’s militarily attack the Germans, the Japanese, the Mexicans and the Spanish, the British, etc. because, at one time, they fought wars against America. Let’s call them all feeble-minded and wicked because in times past their leaders told them to kill Americans. Sometimes, violence for self defense may be justified. History is full of battles against invaders, pillagers and rapists. World War II was against tyranny even though it had its share of much unnecessary cruelty. The war with Iran, at this time, would be an un-provoked war of aggression, being organized by a small group, for greed, arrogance and theft of other peoples resources. There is no evidence Iran has, or is working to build, nuclear weapons.

In 330 B.C., after destroying the Greek democracy, Alexander of Macedonia conquered Persia and ordered its destruction. Soon he learned what a vast, complex and multi-cultural society he had acquired. He married the daughter of the last Persian king and forged the joint Empire of Persia-Macedonia. His followers learned much about architecture, irrigation, road building, postal system, governmental administration, and, yes, military arts. The Persians of that period also loved their home and country, believed in loyalty and honesty and displayed enormous courage. These great qualities were not the sole property of the Europeans.

The days when Hollywood cast the Germans as stupid, the American Indians as sub-human and the Arabs as termites in the desert are over. Technology and travel have made all the nationalities on this planet much more sophisticated in recent times. Instead of promoting understanding and and peace, “300” spreads hatred and enmity. To imply that the multi-religion Persians of then and the Islamic Persians of today are one monolithic hoard is an insult to history. To create the notion that the soldiers of Xerxes and the terrorists of now are alter-egos is outrageous. In short, the plot of “300” prostitutes the minds and idealism and patriotism of the viewer in a sinister attempt to start another sinister war.

Shahidi is a U.S. citizen and a Minnesota business owner, and a human rights, peace and environmental activist for more than 40 years.