The Coming, and Why the Left Doesn't Understand Iran

“Greetings to Mahdi, the one who all beings on Earth and In Heaven love without end.”

About two weeks ago, when Reza Khalili first emailed me a video of the new Iranian-produced documentary -- The Coming Is Near -- I knew I was witnessing something extraordinary. (Reza was preparing a translation at the time, which is available as of today on PJ Media.)

The message of the short film was clear: The current crisis in the Middle East (Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, now Syria... all of it) is a harbinger that the Mahdi (the hidden one, the Twelfth Imam) was coming soon and that, in the ensuing chaos and destruction, Khomeini’s version of Shia Islam would shortly rule over the entire globe.

It seemed like an Iranian version of The Triumph of the Will. Although not remotely as artful as Leni Riefenstahl’s film, The Coming was in many ways as blood-curdling, perhaps more so for its corny time-lapse photography of flowers opening and oddly stiff narration. I thought it should get as wide a dispersion as possible.

And yet simultaneously I thought that was useless. The people who would most need to see this video -- our liberal/left intelligentsia -- either would not watch it or dismiss it as “mere propaganda” and of little significance.

Propaganda it indeed is, but propaganda of a very special sort because its makers truly believe their own ideology. Perhaps, I shouldn’t use the word ideology. They believe their own religion, for religion is the more proper term in this instance, all the pronouncements in the film being of an essentially theological nature, and thus incontrovertible by logic, such as the following from Imam Bagher: “The messiah will not rise unless fear, great earthquakes, and sedition take place.” (Ah, Japan...)