Jul 4, 2009
The events of the past few days in the country of Iran have given me pause to think about the lessons that can be learned. There have been many lessons, many of them not knew, but all worth discussion. At the time of this writing there isn’t a clear outcome to the current turmoil, outside of the fact that a visible layer of “peace” will eventually return to the land of Iran. What I’ve learned from The Iranian Revolt (not yet a revolution) of 2009 is below
The saying “The revolution will not be televised” has taken on a new meaning.
The classic poem by Gil Scott Heron started out originally as a summons to the world that change would begin organically and would be neither sanctioned nor organized by the elites and the powerful. This current true expression of the human spirit is coming in the face of government oppression and media limpness (more discussed about all three of these subjects below). The truth of this revolution is being sent out over the internet. Twitter, Facebook, and other internet sources/platforms are becoming the true purveyors of this revolution. Despite the attempts of the Iranian government to quash the images of the truth, they are trickling out ever so bravely, one image of pain and courage at a time.
The revolution is not being televised. It is being spread through the new media, however this is not a new method. Those seeking revolution have historically used non-conformist means to spread the word, whether it was those oppressed in slavery in the United States creating songs of “worship” detailing their upcoming freedom from a higher being or plans to run away (more commonly known as gospel hymns) or the use of blood over the door in order to communicate the grace bestowed upon the children of Israel as is detailed in the Old Testament. This new age has brought about the use of more democratic electronic means to communicate their desire for freedom, the internet. The internet is so vast that it is almost unable to be contained by anything other than a world government. While Iran attempted to shut down electronic services, governments in other countries were arduously working to ensure that the service would remain available. The other governments won. No the revolutions will not be televised, but it will now be available in vivid imagery.
The Media is pretty pathetic when it comes to covering news
I often take the media to task for not covering important subjects enough if at all. For example, the only news out of Africa in the past year have been about Obama’s family, pirates, Darfur, Obama’s visit to the continent, and Palin’s lack of knowledge of the continent as a whole. Obviously a continent of nearly a billion people would probably generate news of some interest periodically based upon its internal actions, but apparently it is more important to talk about who Jennifer Aniston or Paris Hilton happen to be dating.
Considering the major political implications that this revolt brings to the United States you would assume that this would receive wall to wall coverage on EVERY channel, eschewing the normal Friday night and Saturday afternoon drivel that they provide. You would be wrong. MSNBC offered menial coverage of the issue, Fox tried desperately to blame Obama for it happening, for not being tough enough, and for not having ensured that the vote wasn’t rigged (it was utterly amazing), CNN decided to continue it’s year long fascination with Twitter and Facebook and it’s ability to update in real time. CNN and Fox at least had the decency to spend a large preponderenc of Saturday actually covering the events of the day, MSNBC showed a marathon of its gripping documentary series “Lockup” (I’m not kidding). At the end of the day however, I am still left at a loss as to what is really happening in Iran. By watching the coverage I’d have no clue as to what the opposition leader wants.
What platform did Mousavi run on (for those of you who don’t know, Mousavi is the candidate most believe to have been aggrieved the most in this process)? How does he differ from Ahmadinejad? What change would he bring? Would his election make Iran less aggressive towards Israel and the United States? Would his election improve our ability to get out of Iraq sooner? Watching the news outlet would have left you none the better regarding those questions. But I’m sure you would have received lots of great ideas about what to buy to keep your house smelling fresh and plenty of incentive to join Twitter.
Government oppression is blatant and arrogant
True dictatorship is heavy handed and definitive. The actions of the Iranian government have become increasingly aggressive including firing bullets at peaceful protestors and other routine bullying tactics often used by police states. The state is using every method available to prop up it’s legitimacy including paralleling it’s decision making with that of a deity. If you disagree with the state you disagree with God, because God has ordained the state. It has no problem with beating women, children, or the fragile in order to maintain it’s hold on power. We have heard numerous times in the United States about government oppression/restriction on personal liberties, business, etc. We are far from having do deal with the brutality and disrespect that the Iranians and others in similar situations have had to deal with. Granted we are only 40 years removed from such actions on American soil.
Islam is not incongruent with freedom.
I was struck by the religiosity of those fighting to ensure that their votes and voices are counted. We have been told and have been silly enough to believe that Islam and democracy could not coexist. Islamic law requires that there be a hierarchy of elite who make the money and allow it to trickle down to the peasants who would be at the whim of those same elites for charity. We were told that they were too backward to be able to understand the concept of freedom and democracy. They were “throwbacks” to the 13th century who were limited by their belief in a pagan god.
Now we hear stories of night time prayers being yelled from rooftops in protest. We see Imams decrying the action as being against the teachings of the Koran. We hear of people preparing to give themselves for this movement in the name of their religion and martyr themselves. We hear religious statements of defiance as they face down drawn guns, tear gas, and high held batons. Their religion leads them to the same desire for freedom and basic rights that ours does.
People will use any situation to attempt to bring profit/glory to themselves
I will be kind and give John McCain a pass on this issue. I honestly believe the he believes the crazy nonsense that he spouts. But others have no history of this overly aggressive warmongering. Do they really believe that the United States could ever come out ahead by involving themselves in the inner turmoil of a Middle Eastern country ruled by an iron fist and leaders strongly opposed to American policies? Sadly, they don’t. They didn’t believe it when we entered Iraq or Afghanistan either. Those lessons having been learned, we know that if push came to shove we would not be willing to nor would we have the ability to invade Iran to ensure that they held fair elections. How many countries would we need to invade if that were the threshold? Exactly, it is easily understood that the United States should not intervene publicly in this issue, yet some will make such a foolish claim in the hope that they will continue to be called upon when the media needs another idiot simply to create contrived controversy.
Muslim women are not the passive, submissive, beaten down illiterates they have been portrayed to be.
Many of the protestors have been women, protesting for lost rights. Young and old, the women are taking highly visible roles and offering themselves as the first to be pushed, abused, and arrested. These women aren’t doing so in Levi Jeans or Donna Karan blouses, but in traditional muslim garb. The most visible leaders include women, Neda, the daughter of the former moderate candidate, and the wife of Mousavi, among others. These women are protesting the loss of rights under Ahmadinejad and the general deterioration of the Republic as a whole. These women are truly strong, unlike many of the female heroes we put up in the United States.