Although the women of the United States are confined within the narrow circle of domestic life, and their situation is, in some respects, one of extreme dependence, I have nowhere seen woman occupying a loftier position; and if I were asked... in which I have spoken of so many important things done by Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply, To the superiority of their women.

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Howard Baskerville, Freedom Fighter

For your consideration, a man whom you've probably never heard of, Howard Baskerville. He was a graduate of Princeton and studied under Woodrow Wilson. He was also a Presbyterian missionary to Iran where he was a schoolteacher in the city of Tabriz. From an article in the Persian Mirror:

That said I was amazed to run across last year for the first time the story of Howard C. Baskerville on the internet. Ironically at just about the same time a dear friend of mine had returned to Azerbaijan for a visit for the first time in many years and discovered much to their surprise, that people were still talking about him there. Schools are still named after him there and his tomb is still there. This young man who had come over as a missionary teacher ended up organizing and training his Azeri students to fight with Sattar against the vigilanti war lord forces of the corrupt Mohammad Ali Shah and his Russian mercenaries during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. This was rather like the magna carta of modern day Iran in which parliament tried to limit the excessive powers of the despotic monarchy. How many Americans even know about this struggle for democracy and representative government in Iran which is a freedom they hold so dear in America for themselves? And how many Americans know the name Baskerville?

Here is a picture of the bust of Baskerville proudly displayed at the Constitution House of Tabriz.

Howard Baskerville - Iranian Freedom Fighter

He died at the age of 24 fighting against the totalitarian Shah over 100 years ago, but segments of Iranian society still revere his name.

In 1950, a memorial tablet was placed on Baskerville’s grave, containing part of a verse by Aref Qazvini, the national poet of Iran, which read:
“Oh, thou, the revered defender of the freedom of men,
Brave leader and supporter of justice and equity,
Thou has given thy life for the felicity of Iran,
O, may thy name be eternal, may thy soul be blessed! “
Five days after his funeral in 1909, Baskerville’s parents, in Spicer, Minn., received a telegram:
“Persia much regrets honorable loss of your dear son in the cause of liberty and we give our parole that future Persia will always revere his name in her history like Lafayette and will respect his venerable tomb.
Sattar Khan and Jamani Ayoleti “
Sattar Khan later sent along Baskerville’s rifle, which he wrapped in a Persian flag.
I can only imagine that he rolled over in his grave and wept when the United States Government (not to be confused with America, which Baskerville represented) set up fake riots and a coup in 1953 in Operation AJAX. This was the first time the United States Government had forcibly ousted a democratically elected foreign leader. That's what we call a turning point in history - it set the precedent for the CIA to go in and overthrow any country that didn't tow the US Government line. What makes this so ironic is that they put a Shah, back into power. They even trained his personal goon squad, SAVAK to make the political opponents disappear. I can't help but think that this would stir up a lot of dissension within Iran. Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction, and a generation later (26 years) the breaking point had come. What was once a moderate Muslim nation had been driven into the arms of militant Islam to get some "justice". The joke was on them as the next leader and every leader of Iran since the Islamic Revolution has been a dictator with the Revolutionary Guard operating as their goon squad.

I just think it's totally wild that right now in Iran there is a bust commemorating one Christian missionary's zeal for freedom while in America, atheists are trying to get crosses snapped off of everything and children are perversely molested before getting on airplanes.

Here's some more Iranian info.. the more you know, the more equipped you are to form intelligent opinions.

“When Mossadegh and Persia started basic reforms, we became alarmed. We united with the British to destroy him; we succeeded; and ever since, our name has not been an honored one in the Middle East.”
--US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas who had visited Iran before and after the coup

“For many Iranians, the coup demonstrated duplicity by the United States, which presented itself as a defender of freedom but did not hesitate to use underhanded methods to overthrow a democratically elected government to suit its own economic and strategic interests”
-- Agence France Presse June 4, 2009

Here's a little documentary that is chock full of demonstrable facts on the history of Iran, oil interests, and British/US involvement.

Part 1

Part 2

The Secret Government, a PBS documentary aired in 1987. This features the 1953 Iran coup. Warning: features uber-liberal Bill Moyers, but I can't find anything to disagree with in his commentary.

Attacking Iran? It's a really, really big country full of some really patriotic people.

"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people out to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government." Washington said "The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible." - Washington Farewell address 1796


  1. Most Americans don't even understand the differences between Persian Iran and it's Arab neibors. Iran has not launched an offensive war in modern times. Most of the people of Iran are actually very moderate.

  2. So true, that's why I hesitate on posting on the Middle East because I realize that there is so much more going on politically and ethnically that our media doesn't attempt to explain.

    If we're going to go after people, I rather it be for legitimate reasons, not what people who have a lot of stock in the defense industry say.

  3. Thanks for a great post. We fail to realize that borders drawn in the Middle East,do not reflect the orginal culture, but rather reflect an arbitrary line drawn.


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