“But whether that changes the actual Western discourse around Iran is another matter. Every society or culture gets stereotyped in some way by others — but Iran, even before the rise of the Islamic Republic in 1979, has been a very conspicuous victim.
That’s in part a consequence of its history. As the inheritor of Persia’s ancient empires, Iran has been the Other — the enemy of the nominal “West” — since classical times and the famous wars with Greek city-states. In the 18th century, some European writers and thinkers popularized the image of a “decadent” and “despotic” Persia as an allegorical device to critique their own societies. A century later, as Europe’s empires gained in power, the Orientalist cliches hardened and served to bolster the West’s own sense of racial and moral superiority.”