Monday, June 22, 2009

My unsolicited thoughts on Iran.

My unsolicited thoughts on Iran.

It's difficult to record any quick thoughts on the situation in Iran, since it's such an incredibly complicated situation. And while I'm pleased any time I see Westerners actually giving a hoot about anything going on in the Middle East that doesn't directly impact them, that excites me. I want people to be at least aware of what goes on in other corners of the world. I want folks to care.*

So it's nice to see so much chatter around the Iranian elections, but at the same time it's disheartening to see people trying to boil it down into sloganeering. I read a comment equating the turning of Twitter avatars green as the new AIDs ribbon of 2009; in other words folks are showing support but not really getting involved. I think that's somewhat true, but I do hope that if someone turns their avatar green it also indicates they're showing slightly more than a passing interest in what's going on.

And what's going on is, well, convoluted. Face it, the election results were skewed, but it's very probable Ahmadinejad did have the most vote, even before results were tampered with. And the "opposition party" isn't exactly the opposition. Moussavi has already been prime minister under the current regime so it's not really a case of the bad guy versus the good guy.** They're both bad, and they're both pretty hostile towards the West.

So if you're one of the folks insisting that Moussavi be put in power, you're probably missing the point. I don't think anyone supporting democracy would also support the notion of protests placing someone into power that actually lost an election (and, for the sake of keeping this point clear, we'll pretend Bush vs. Gore didn't muddle our own nation's stance on this particular point.)

No, what these protests are about is free speech. At the base the crowds in the street seem to be angry about a perceived loss. But I think it's safe to say that anger is rooted in their dissatisfaction that no matter what, it seems as if they have little to no say in their government. A government that posits itself to be democratically chosen, but is in fact rigged from the get-go. Believe me, no one would ever make it onto the ballot if they actually weren't approved by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right?

So I don't think we should be angry that Ahmadinejad won, because he probably did. If you want to side with the protesters you should be indignant at the suppression of their voice by a brutal government who sees fit to shoot people in the streets that don't agree with its positions. Be upset

*I was recently shocked to learn that educated people I know didn't even know that a) the U.S. had backed the Iranian government until b) the 1979 revolution when c) U.S. hostages were taken and d) nightly coverage of the situation prompted the creation of Nightline. And that part of the reason Reagan won the next election was due to the Iranian situation and his promise to free U.S. hostages, which he did. I always thought everyone knew all of this and I'm slowly learning that many folks' grasp of history rarely extends more than a few years back, if that far.

**In fact, Moussavi's exhortations to continue to protest on his behalf fairly smacks of a megalomaniac needlessly sending lambs out to the slaughter.

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