Hope springs eternal:
Last week's so-called elections in Iran were met with much fanfare from both the regime and some in the West. Despite the predominant narrative focusing on the factional split within Iran, the elections themselves underpin a much deeper issue within Iranian society. Namely, the legitimacy of the regime, and its efforts to compel its citizens to continue to exist within its institutional framework.
The famous linguist Noam Chomsky once remarked: "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum -- even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."
The regime has done everything in its power to limit the discussion on the elections in such a way that the fact that they are neither free nor fair is left out of the narrative.
Sure, this quote applies to the campus bullies who have restricted freedom of speech, but I'll stick to Iran. The existence of Iranian "moderate Islamists" is a category of Unicorns all on its own:
Real reformers, Iranian politicians and intellectuals who want to change radically the governing structure of the Islamic Republic and convert a theocracy into a democracy, were silenced, imprisoned, exiled, murdered, and banned from politics when the pro-democracy Green Movement was stamped out after the fraudulent presidential election in 2009.
Perhaps quoting Chomsky can persuade liberals here who swoon over the rigged Iranian elections every time they are held to abandon their hope of making mullah-run Iran a responsible regional power.
The bottom line is that the notion of moderate Shia Islamists is nonsense.