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I think that one of the most significant consequences of the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s was to demonstrate how attractive a form of fundamentalism can actually be to people. The rise of the Ayatollah in the wake of the Iranian Revolution helps to demonstrate how Western countries cannot discount fundamentalism as an avenue for people to pursue who feel alienated by their existing government. The rule of the Shah was highly Western, desiring to appropriate cultural and social elements from the dominant Western culture. The fundamentalism offered by the Ayatollah reminded the West how it does not help itself by failing to understand how such a model might alienate many. The rise and rule of the Ayatollah proved how persuasive fundamentalism, particularly Islamic fundamentalism, can actually be. The West does not help itself in discarding it, seeking to demonize it, or failing to understand it. This consequence of the Iranian Revolution sticks today, as we still find ourselves struggling to understand the attraction of Islamic fundamentalism, no matter how twisted the religion might be presented. The reality is that in failing to understand how fundamentalism can be appropriated, the rise of the Ayatollah and the appeal of Islamic versions of fundamentalism existed then and still do today. This becomes one of the most significant consequences of the Iranian Revolution.
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