“Down with USA”. I stared at the mural. What did they mean? Down with the USA, like I hope the country becomes a fiery apocalypse? Or, like, yeah, I am down with the USA, they are AOK in my book. This is a conflicting message that travelers are continually confronted with when visiting Iran.
At first brush, it is easy to be filled with some trepidation when visiting Iran. The Iranian government does not make it easy to visit, including a lengthy visa process and a required guide to accompany you during your visit. It also seems like Iran has a penchant for imprisoning visitors on trumped up charges. Iran has brutally suppressed recent democratic movements in their country. The leader of the Iran, the Ayatollah, is fond of ending his Friday sermons with “Death to America!”
And of course, no American will forget the attack on the US Embassy in 1979 and the imprisonment of 52 Americans for 444 days.
So, what would possess me or any other American to visit this isolated pariah state?
Iran is one of the world’s oldest civilizations dating back to 3,200 BC with a rich history and culture. Iran is a multi-cultural society with multiple religions and languages. And as a visitor, there is a cornucopia of amazing historical sites, too many to visit on a single trip.
And the average Iranian is incredibly friendly and hospitable. I was stopped dozens of times during my ten day visit with a giant smile “Welcome to Iran!” after informing the questioner that I was from the U.S. Not the interactions you would expect from perusing western media.
So, how can you square the circle? My first stop in Tehran, the sprawling capital of Iran, was the Den of Thieves. Also known as the former US Embassy of Iran. Currently, it is the headquarters of an Iranian militia group. The walls are covered with anti-American graffiti. As I photographed the wall, two men sitting by called me over. They asked where I was from, and I shared with them that I was from the U.S. They smiled and shook my hand as they welcomed me to their country. The irony was not lost on me, as the three of us stood in the shadow of a skull-faced Statue of Liberty.
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The Iranians have their own valid frustrations with the United States. The U.S. engineered a coup in 1953 overthrowing the democratically elected leader, Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, and reinstating the autocratic and freedom-suppressing Shah Reza Shah Pahlavi. And the U.S. with many other countries supported Saddam Hussein during the brutal eight year war with Iran.
Anti-American propaganda is not limited to the Den of Thieves, but it can be viewed throughout the country.
The flipside of the coin were my actual interactions with the Iranians I met throughout the country. Warm smiles, hearty handshakes. Multiple “Welcome to Iran!” I have been to some countries in the Middle East where I simply lied when I met a random citizen. I would offer a Canada or Australia as my origin, instead of sharing with them that I was from the U.S. In Iran, I always offered my true origin. I knew I would be met with a warm response. Down With USA? Make your own judgement when you visit.
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Fantastic post. Thanks Ric! Love the pics…as usual! You’ve got a great eye.
Thanks for your comment!!
i wish i could be a fly on your knapsak….
Accepting applications!!! 🙂
Im iranian.if you have any question from iran,i can help you…
Thank you! But I am longer there, left the other year after my visit.
[…] And what do Iranians think of Americans? Do they hate them? Read here. […]
Wow, never thought the posters and art would be so blatantly anti-West or anti-US. Pretty hard core.
But I’ve met a few Iranians and for the most part they are a sophisticated and intelligent. And behind the conservative facade they enjoy a good time (usually at home, where everything happens).
Enjoyed the photos.
As I shared…there seems to a disconnect with the propaganda and the interactions with the people you meet, who are very welcoming. Did you have some of those experiences in Cuba? The anti-US propaganda, yet the people don’t seem to care?
I read in the media all this stuff about hating the US. But when I travel, and meet the ordinary person on the street, they are happy to hear I’m from the US. And many times ask “can you help get me to the US?”. LOL
The average person just wants to raise their family and have a good life. I’ve been to Cuba a few times. As an independent traveler, staying in private homes. Casa Particular. What a great experience. Very generous people. But also very poor people. Breaks your heart at times.
Agreed…a lot of times the issues are more with the US government. And, I get the same question. Can you help me with a visa?
Cuba was also similar…a lot of US anti-propaganda. But the average person does not seem to care.
ohhh really??? you’re from us??? give me a big hug <3
hey you come and visit ok?? you will be so welcomed
i love you (Iranian girl)
OMG This is amazing. Definitely puts my mind at ease. Thank you!
Are you going to visit Iran?
Hey, i am from Iran, and Iran is great:)
And you have to say 52 Americans were taken hostage
But 52 spies were arrested.
Hello Mohammad, Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Hi dude ^__^
I’m from Iran and I wanted to say something about down with USA
It’s actually about the government of USA not about American people
and we have lots of reasons to hate American’s government that may your medias and news never tell you and I’m almost sure you know nothing about those reasons !!
just for understanding :
imagine we come to your country and take your oil and give you almost nothing! we take your golds ! we try to keep you weak ! we Threat
you if you don’t give us your nuclear weapon we will attack you ! and we terror your Scientists ! we make economic sanction against you ! we call you terrorists because you want your own rights ! and so many other things that if I want to say , It will take forever !
now may you want to say Down with Iran? because it really hurts you?
now may we say Down with USA? and we although like American people just like other countries people
last question my friend
if you were an Iranian and suffer lots of cheats , economic problems and terrors and stealing your oil gold and …. just because of USA Government , what would you say to USA????
Iranian dude, thanks for sharing your feedback.
Thank you for visiting Iran
We DO NOT hate U.S people WE HATE U.S GOVERNMENT
especially Donald Trump …
Personally I hate Saudi Arabia Government too and recently when I saw Trump with Saudi Arabia guys on T.V I hate them much more than past.
I hope for 4 years later to a new president for U.S
P.S : I hope for a president who is logical.
Thanks for your feedback, and we all hope for a logical and reasonable president. Inshallah.
Ha ha ha ha you have learned Persian word Ensha allah .
Also WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS and we NEVER encourage them we really hate them and as you know recently they attacked our people in Tehran
Hope for their extinct.
Nice reply, Mohammed. Just be careful of hating too much.
We Iranians hate US politics and cruel things the US politicians have done to us,like supporting Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran, their secret role in the terror of our scientists, killing our people travelling by airplane in Persian Gulf, supporting all terrorist groups around Iran to threaten Iran’s security,and a lot of other hostile actions against Iran.
We never hate American people,like people living in other countries and I think if Americans know what their politicians are doing in the middle east ,they also will hate the people governing the US.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and it is great you are able to separate the actions of the government with that of the people.
I am curious, does that mean you hate the Iranian government? Is Iran guilty of the same crimes you accuse the American government of? Iran supports Hezbollah and Hamas who are responsible for the deaths of many innocent civilians I could also list dozens and dozens of other acts of death and violence supported and perpetuated by the Iranian government. Iran sponsored at least 30 terrorist attacks between 2011 and 2013 “in places as far flung as Thailand, New Delhi, Lagos, and Nairobi”. In my home of Thailand, several Iranian nationals were caught making explosive devices. Thankfully, they were caught by the Thai police before they hurt any civilians.
Hi. I have a question here: Who are a terrorist and what means this word?
for example, If some one attach your home and family and owns them by force, then you must reside silent?
If you do some reactions to defense of your family against attacker, Is it true if we call you terrorist?
What about US Government and its wars that started in our region by its Military Forces, Because of a pretext that never was proofed? What you state about every one protects its home and family from injury there?…
Hezbollah and Hamas is regional defense groups against foreign wars only. And do you know Hezbollah and Hamas members are from people from each one’s region? (Hezbollah is in Lebanon and Hamas is in Palestine)
Unfortunately, the sounds raising from public media is not reflecting the true and the whole facts about Iran and our region.
Iran’s Government not supports terrorist attacks. Iran helps independent-free countries in its region to protect its citizenry against wars and terrorists. Same as what does about Iraq to help them to prevent ISIS terrorists from killing people. Iran only helps every country engaging defense, and legally requests help from Iran. Whereas, US Government Attacks by Military Forces to every country the US Government wants and Supports Every Group that Satisfy Its Needs that period of time on that region not what people of that region needs.
you know guys
politics is much more dirty than what we think , its rly hard to say who is right and who is not. iran , usa, germany … they all want one thing , power.
but these are people who hate each other more and more.
i never said ‘down-with-usa’ bcs of bad impression and i hope all countries stop telling this.
PS: politics is very complicated ! don’t try analyze it 🙂
good luck .
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is always complicated.
Hello, I’m an Iranian girl and I’m nineteen years old,
I have to tell you guys something, we Iranian hate the leader of Iran , Iran was a modern country befor these shits come and get it and they are all Arabic , Arabic has an old spite and they finally could get Iran down:) if you look closer the leader of our region even give our tree to arabics for free to Arabic live better :)) and Iran goes down and down and… let’s pass that, believe me we Iranian don’t hate any region, why we have to hate them????? What did A little baby do to me to hate he or she? Or you? We have been scared of your government and we say down to America cause my government told us if America don’t see our unions they will attack Iran (but my family and I don’t do that and don’t say death to American)believe me we love other people and respect other regions
Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts. To the friendship of nations!
Im so happy that I see everyone who is against our lovely, kind and powerful leader, is impolite and … .
please research about Islam(Shia Muslim in particular)(just reliable sources ). when you find it it, you’ll love it. do you know what our most important aim for our revolution is? do you have any details about twelfth Imam and his appearance ? (reliable resources) . these things absolutely are different from ISIS theory (=that one is exactly what ever some bad guys want to us for knowing about Islam) . please research more about Islam. Islam is not for Arabs or the other descents. Its for everyone who wanna be successful in her or his life. all the Islam is peace, and commands people to the best things(kindness, donation, and …) all the bad things you know about Islam are what ever some persons (bad ones that govern the world(illuminati or something like that))like that you know, because they are scaring from Islam. (to reach all the world). most of these muslims (like me)are not the real muslim.
If you wanna catch the reality, research about Islam(shia muslim) to find it.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions…I am not clear on what you are tying to say.
I’m a Iranian Muslim girl,and I’m just 16years old.thank you for your good feeling about us.Me and many teenagers ,and most of the people are crazy about our country, our lovely religion ♥Islam♥,and our love our leader.We are the enemy of war,violence, and all the bad things.Real Muslims are not racist , we are not terrorist, and we aren’t supporting terrorism.Accepte that every thing it isn’t like that you are seeing. Please go and search about real Islam(Shia Muslims).If you want to found the truth, you will found. After that you can found the answers of your questions actually all of your questions.
i hop you will found the truth inshallah 🙂
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Mashallah.
Dear admin, correct my comment text, please. I had Some dictation errors in my text:
But I’m an Iranian person that lives in Iran. And I think you are wrong. We (the most Iranian people in Iran) love our wise leader. He is a honest and frank person that loves people around the world. And he is not Arab (as our prophet by its pedigree root was not actually Arab).
As you stated, you are only nineteen years old and it seems that you have not sufficient knowledge about Iran before the Iranian leader and the Islamic Revolution.
Currently, Iran is going to be a modern(novel) country, But Before Islamic Revolution, Iran has not been a modern country. Although after Islamic Revolution, by the guidance of the honest leaders, Iran achieved important success in some strategic sciences and technologies and the politics (actual democracy). And obviously overall public welfare is increased in Iran, even though all the time we was in Boycott. Currently, we can defense itself against terrorists, and we can play important peaceful roles in our region.
Obviously, success achievement is not easy… But, as i know, We are happy or maybe pleasant people, now. (khoda ra shokr)
Thank you for commenting again. First, who is Hanie? Second, who is 19 years old? Third, when did I comment about whether the Iranian people love their leader?
If you are making the effort to comment, it would make sense to read the post, and actually comment on what I wrote.
My point, as a visitor to your country, their is a lot of hostility to the west. (you would see nothing in the west, which would be the equivalent to the outward hostility in your country) But, the people I met in your country were very hospitable and welcoming.
So again, please take some time and rad the post more carefully before commenting so inaccurately.
Hi dear Ric, What you read was actually a reply to one of the comments made by someone named Hanie in whose words the very datails you might have been shocked by were mentioned. Do a quick word search on this page and you’ll see that it was merely a misunderstanding…!
An Iranian archeologist.
No issue with a misunderstanding…I am stating if he is going to take so much time writing a comment, he should read the post and respond accurately. That is a lot more helpful, than writing a commentary that has nothing to do with the post. It has nothing to do with happiness and everything to do with accuracy and being relevant.
Hi dear Ric, again.
Firstly, I guess it is a programming bug in your website. (I am a web developer and understand such this problems). I was wrote my reply to Hanie’s comment at true place, at first. Your site loads for me with a lot of Resource Loading Failure errors in the Google Chrome Browser, Because we Iranians are in the west’s boycott (including some internet services).
Secondly, you was wiped out my first reply below Hanie’s comment (likely due to some dictation errors). I was resend it again just below her comment using “Reply” button, But i see it is viewing as an independent comment now! OK.
Thirdly about your opinion about Iran: You have been visited my country in a limited duration of time, but i am living in this country for many years old, and obviously i have been more chance to communicate with and analyze its environment and people.
Iranian people are more complex and clever than what you imagine. It is more than 30 years that we are target of direct hates from the west, started by their governments and is non-stop. Not only in the west’s public media, but also in real Wars and Oppressions that fires by, and directly supports by west, here in Our Home and Land. Yes, We are hospitable; But we are wize too, and it is some big injuries in our hearts.
Did you asked yourself, Why every alley in iran is named for a young or old person wich is died? If you ask the question from every Iranian that lives in each alley, usually those are familiar with who is the alley is named for. And they will say that: he/she is Martyr, had been lived in the alley and was killed in wars supported by west and by weapons made by west. What you expect here? Obviously the enmity of west governments is in the heart of the most of Iranians, Whether they lie this enmity for you or frankly state you 😐
Be more realistic and logical, with regards.
I am not sure I understand you 100%. Are you saying all the Iranian people hate the people from the west? And the friendliness and hospitality I encountered was a lie and fake? Thanks for sharing you thoughts.
USA has one the worst cabin in the world !
In the Iran`s war- All the countries helped Iraq In fact it was war between Iran and world . In the last who was the winner?
Today USA is a really big threat for us.
We must have nuclear weapons !
We love our leader – We love our Imam Reza – We love Islam – We love Iran
Thanks for your input, but your missing the entire point of the post.
All I see here is a western snowflake, desperate to beleive that what he saw presented to his face was in actual fact just conservative manners. Of course they are going to be polite to you when you are in front of them. Thats not just an Iranian thing it’s a people thing. Not all people are as confrontational and rude in person as some of the western people you are used to.
I’m willing to bet that as soon as you left those people all they could say was “who does this American think he is”.
Yhea, they really DO hate you that much but they’re not going to tell it to your face. Not just hate for your government. They are not stupid and backwards, they realise that the people just sit back and let that government do what it wants and it’s the people that vote the government in. Make no mistake, Iranians hate Anericans. Period. And they feel they have good reason to. And they might just be right.
The amount of anti-Iranian, anti-russian, anti-north korean sentiments in your prress prove that it’s YOU who hate people, not Iranians. The CIA is one of the most evil organisations there has ever been. Enabled by you, the American people. Make no mistake, you have reason to be hated, you;re just not aware of it because you are like the little kid who punches a weak kid in the playground and shrugs his shoulders and says “what? What did I do?”. You guys think you can act with impunity around the world and then go “what? What did we do?” and then you act all surprised to hear that you are hated for it. Wake up.
Lastly, unless you went to every region, every city, from the most liberal (if any exist) to the most fundamentalist of area’s then you cannot say that just by visiting and havng a few people being polite to you is some kind of point. The moment you leave, those people are free to go right back to hating you, and everything you and your government stand for. Because through their eyes, it’s not your freedom they hate, it’s your freedom to go marching around the world destroying countries and murdering sovereign state world leaders.
You’ve got stuff coming to you, you just cant see it and prefer to pull the “what did I do” flag instead. Good luck, we’re all probably going to need it if the American people continue to prop up it’s rotten leaders.
This little snowflake thanks you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am sad to hear you say that Iranian people are not genuine and are duplicitous. They seemed like genuine friendly people to me.
First of all, you need to know that in Iran the subject is more complicated than this.These slogans are simply fools. If you travel to Iran, be sure to welcome your thesis so that you completely forget that the country uses anti-American slogans. If you see a march in Iran that uses stereotyped slogans, it’s worth noting that 3/4 of those who are on the march are not willing to take part in the march, but they force the employees on a regular business day to take part in the march. Be lively
Thanks for sharing you perspective.
HELLO I AM FROM IRAN . IRAN IS BEAUTIFUL AND INTERESTING . I LOVE MY COUNTRY 🙂 ; I INVITATION YOU TO VISITING IRAN AND SEE THE NATURAL AND HISTORICAL ATTRACTION .
Thank you, I had a great visit when I was there.
i’d be honest with you, i dislike US government very much as a normal iranian Citizen, However I’m not saying Iranian government is doing very great!. NO!
besides the politics, we love people outside of the Iran specially USA.
I don’t know but i can guess Iran is seperated from the world for many years..
but anyway thanks for showing the Iranian’s people true nature unlike what media shows about iranians
thanks for your feedback.
I know I am posting over three years after the last person did but I thought I would say my piece anyway. First, these are some great pictures and a great story about visiting Iran. I’ve never been but I have many Iranian friends in the US, including someone who was my son’s nursery school teacher. They are all glad to be in the US, all wonderful and friendly people and all think the fundamentalist Muslim government is a total joke and would do anything to bring all their relatives still living there to the US if it were feasible (in fairness, not all of them want to leave Iran). They are not proud of their government and feel it is impeding long-term progress of the country. They also recognize the US is not perfect either (as I do), but don’t believe the US has any real blame for their country’s current problems.
Also, someone who was one of my father’s best friends (the friend passed away a few years ago) was a career diplomat who lived all over the world, including Iran before the revolution. Of all the countries he lived, Iran was by far his favorite (but remember he also left some years before the revolution). Without question the friendliest people who went out of their way to welcome him to the neighborhood, as he lived in a neighborhood where there were many diplomats’ houses among locals’ houses, so you constantly had people moving in and out and the locals made a point to welcome and get to know everyone. Also, he loved the culture, food, the scenery and the weather more than anywhere else. I am sure he was glad he was gone by the time the embassy takeover happened, however.
Anyway, some of these pictures of anti-US propaganda sure are interesting. Is this stuff supposed to make me cry or something? It doesn’t. I feel sorry for the people that have to look at that nonsense every day. It is my understanding that the Ayatollah Khomeini said something along the lines of “every Iranian child born is a dagger through the heart of an American” and encouraged women to have as many children as possible during his reign (family planning and abortion? forget about it in Iran). At one point the country became badly overpopulated and it is one hole that is not easy to dig out of, though the current regime seems to have come to its senses in that regard.
Anyway, I’ve said enough here though I must finish it off with one last thing – I would bet my last dollar the current religious leaders of Iran enjoy seeing hot women in bikinis as much as the next guy. They just won’t admit it.
Hi Charles … thanks for sharing your feedback. Touching on one comment you made. “is this stuff supposed to make me cry” referring to the anti-american propoganda. No, it is not. The point of my post is sharing the dichotomy of Iran … some of the most friendly and hospitable people yet a visitor will be confronted non-stop by anti-american messages. How to square the circle?
Thanks for your response. Yes, I know the pictures weren’t supposed to make me cry, it was more of a rhetorical question, or not really directed at you but rather the people or government that put up all those anti-US messages. Yes, it definitely is a dichotomy. I know I’ve said it already but I do pity the locals that have to walk by that nonsense every day and some might even feel a little bit of shame about it. I know I wouldn’t be too proud of seeing something like that in my neighborhood. There’s enough hate in this world as it is. The only other countries I can think of with such blatant, in your face anti-US propaganda like that would be North Korea and Cuba. Too bad the governments in all three places can’t seem to realize how idiotic it makes them look. I know it wasn’t quite the same thing, but was there any positive end result from all that anti-Jewish signage during Hitler’s Germany? We know the answer to that.
Hey Charles … I asked my guide this … who are the people I see in the news? Meaning, there are real anti-American protests where 100,000s of Persians take to the streets burning flags. But, everyone I interacted with was friendly. So where are the haters? He said those people are real and they are anti-US.
I guarantee you a significant portion of them were forced to do it by the government. There might be some true believers in those crowds but most of it is just staged.