How Iran Is Changing The World Before Our Eyes

Every now and then I like to drift away from my usual topic of the evils of religion and touch on important political events. Well, it seems the time has certainly come to step away from talk of religion once again. I've said again and again that the importance of what is happening in Iran right now simply can not be overstated. It is likely to be viewed as one of the most important events of this generation for many reasons. I'd like to take a moment to discuss exactly why I feel these events are so important.

The Birth Of True Democracy In The Middle East

A revolution can be neither made nor stopped. The only thing that can be done is for one of several of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories. Napoleon Bonaparte

The thing that George W. Bush and his cronies never seemed to understand is that you can not impose democracy on people. Democracy is kind of like quitting smoking or any other drug or vice - it won't work unless *YOU* really want it. It takes hard work and effort to put in place and even more work to defend from those who look to undermine it at every turn. If the group in question is not ready and willing to fight and die for their freedom then it will never last - if it's ever even really in place to begin with.

That's not what is happening in Iran though. This isn't a foreign body stepping in and trying to impose their will on another country. This is a people deciding for themselves that enough is enough, that they will not allow their voices to be silenced. They want this for themselves and are now repeating what American colonists did in 1775 and the French in 1789. They are taking their country back, refusing to allow their corrupt government to enforce it's will.

If democracy is ever really going to take root in the Middle East, this is what it needs. The ripple effect of an influential Middle Eastern nation stepping up and demanding freedom by themselves, without Western intervention, would be immeasurable. Going into a nation, ousting the current regime, and installing your own form of government tastes too much like occupation. It is not a means that can be used to spread freedom. Freedom must spread itself as it is in Iran and it acts as a wave, once it has garnered sufficient momentum nothing can stop it.

That is why President Barrack Obama's response to the situation has been absolutely picture perfect. The most damaging thing he could possibly do to this movement in Iran would be to come out in support of it. Giving the government a way to tie this movement to Western ideology, particularly American ideology, would be disastrous to the protesters and what they stand for. They've already made every attempt to tie the movement with the West in any way possible, their failure to do so is the only reason it has gained the traction it has. It would only serve to unite the hard-liners in the same way that the election controversy united the people we're watching fight for their lives right now. An official White House statement saying anything to the tune of "we stand behind these protesters and their quest to overthrow the Iranian regime" would give the current government all the ammo they need to say "Look! This is just another attempt by the Americans to interfere in our affairs and destroy Islam!" Obama has played his hand perfectly. Express your support for freedom and human rights but don't give the government a way to tie the protesters to the United States.

On a related note - I'd like to take a brief moment to express my utter disdain for the politicians and pundits who are trying to politicize this situation and use it as a means to attack Obama. In this moment in time I truly wish there was a hell for you to burn in for attempting to use the blood of others to increase your own exposure and push your own agenda. You are lowlifes of the worst variety and you disgust me. That is all.

"New Media" Gets It's Close-Up

I forget the exact quote or who it was that said it but I remember reading a quote a while ago. It was something along the lines of "the greatest threat to the tyrants of the world is not the army coming over the hill but the kid in glasses programming computers." Watching this incredible story play itself out on Twitter showed the world exactly why. The Iranian government has made every attempt possible to shut the curtains around the world so they can put this protest down by whatever means they deem necessary. The power of the internet has not allowed that to happen. They can not silence the voices of their people and they can not prevent the world from watching what unfolds.

Traditional news sources have been one step behind the entire time, MSNBC has been almost entirely useless, CNN has dropped the ball at every opportunity. The only major source providing constant, good coverage is Fox News but it's Fox News and who the fuck wants to watch Fox News? I had it on for 5 minutes last night and just that made me feel dirty and tainted. The place to be is #IranElection on Twitter, it's wear news appears first, and it is an unfiltered eye into Iran. It's power was flexed in the rise of "Neda" in mere hours yesterday afternoon. If you've been living under a rock, Neda is reportedly the name of the girl in the heart-breaking, horrific video making it's rounds on the net (WARNING: GRAPHIC!!!) made famous by tens of thousands of tweets and retweets throughout the day and night.

Of course, we've also seen the downside to new media. It's great because it's unfiltered but also very unreliable for the same reasons. Following #IranElection yesterday saw misinformation such as tanks rolling out in Tehran spread so quickly it entered the top 5 trending topics literally inside of an hour. It turned out to be false. Today #IranElection is being flooded by tweets claiming Mir Hossein Mousavi has been arrested with 0 supporting evidence and not a single tweet from any of the people who've grown to be trusted sources inside Iran. It's certainly got it's ups and downs but it has undoubtedly become the voice of the people in Iran and the media and the way we receive our news will never be the same as a result.


The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Thomas Jefferson

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Tags: #IranElection, Democracy, Iran, New-Media, Protest, Twitter, YouTube

Comment by Aric on June 21, 2009 at 10:30pm
Aljazeera English has had pretty good coverage of the Iranian election too.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on June 21, 2009 at 11:50pm
There is a very good chance that despite this outcry, nothing will change.
How is this any different than Burma?
Comment by Gaytor on June 22, 2009 at 12:48am
To Misty's Burma question, Burmese people have had multiple horrible situations, but none where they were told that they could speak then had that voice blatantly quashed. Also since they had a Military Dictatorship it's easier for them to respond. Since there is a council that can remove leaders in Iran, Khamenei and Ahmedenejad they don't have total final control. Given a huge portion of the population is involved it's different from small groups trying to exercise the will the people like what was going on there. Not that you will be wrong in the final analysis, but those are the differences that I see and place some hope in.
Dead on with the democracy thoughts Sabre. I took a Pseudo Psychology (should have been called Philosophy) class once that had some really good thoughts now and then. One of the lessons was about people controlling you. The only people that can control you are those that you give permission to control you to. The Iranian people have decided that enough is enough. Today they blew up a Basiji Station and ran others off with nothing more than stones. As the violence is escalated it's likely to be returned in kind and it will lead to the end of that government. It took two weeks in Czech and given the loss of billions by the wealthy in lost productivity, pressure for a resolution will begin to press from yet another front soon.
Comment by Dave G on June 22, 2009 at 1:03pm
As I read on a blog post earlier today, the events in Iran may well be the signal for the fall of Islamic Theocracy. Khamenei, the supreme religious leader in Iran, stated that the election was good, basically stating that Ahmedenejad was divinely chosen to lead. And the people of Iran said, loudly, NO.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on June 22, 2009 at 1:58pm
Gaytor-
Um.. what about Aung San Suu Kyi?
She won the PM by an 80% sweeping majority but instead of taking her place as the rightful head of Bruma, she was put under arrest by the military dictatorship that lost the election.
Sounds a lot like "they were told they could speak then had that voice blatantly quashed."
I mean, the Burmese people said they wanted democracy, and instead got kicked in the balls. Pretty much what is happening in Iran. The only difference is that Burma had a dictatorship say no to free votes and Iran is having Khamenei say no to free votes.
That's just my take on it, anyway. My political knowledge of both countries isn't as keen as it ought to be.
Comment by SabreNation on June 22, 2009 at 2:01pm
Dave G - I remain hopeful that this will signal the end of the pseudo-theocracy in Iran, the irony of it is that if that happens it will be Khamenei himself that brought it about. This was just about a rigged election, Ahmedenejad and Khamenei have made it about so much more than that. I listened to a telephone interview on CNN with one of the protesters who said just that. This isn't about Mousavi or a rigged election anymore, it's about the whole system of government. It's about a regime stealing an election and the Supreme Leader basically saying "this is the way it is, now sit down and shut up worthless peasants."

People would be fooling themselves to think this is going to weaken Islam in Iran, it is still a very conservative, very religious nation. This does, however, seriously weaken the strength and legitimacy of the Theocracy there. Most experts agree that if the position of "Supreme Leader" remains in Iran it will be a severely diminished role, sort of like a cabinet member in the US, someone who provides guidance and advice but nothing more.
Comment by Dave G on June 22, 2009 at 2:13pm
Sabre: I don't see it ridding Iran of Islam, no. The protesters are shouting 'God is great' from the rooftops, after all. But I do place hopes in that, by ridding themselves of a theocratic regime and embracing a more democratic and open society, the nature of their religion will begin to shift from the more extreme (and dangerous) Islamic faith to a more moderate one. One step at a time, we can't expect huge leaps to happen all at once, and even becoming a more secular society would be a huge step.
Comment by SabreNation on June 22, 2009 at 2:21pm
Misty -
The major difference here is that the largest and strongest uprising in Burma, the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi happened in 1990. We live in a different world now. The regime was able to oust foreign media and brutally suppress the protests via military means without the eye of the world seeing their every move and creating fierce backlash. Since that brutal time no opposition movement has succeeded in garnering as much country-wide support as that one did.

Iran can't do that, they're stuck. They've already banned foreign journalists and just yesterday either arrested or kicked all remaining foreign journalists out of the country. It hasn't worked though, the Iranian people are FAR too tech savvy and no matter what the government does footage and new from the country will continue to stream out. As Obama so eloquently put it "the world is watching", if the Iranian government were to attempt to brutally put down these protesters in the way the Burmese government did the international backlash would be deafening. Iran is far too dependent on international trade to allow something like that. A wide-spread international embargo against them would shatter their economy and bring down the current regime faster than any revolution ever could.
Comment by Carmela Ramos on June 22, 2009 at 2:41pm
Eloquently put, sir!
Comment by SabreNation on June 22, 2009 at 4:04pm
Dave G -
As a follow up to what you said, check out this exchange during a CNN telephone interview with one of the protesters:

"Roberts: Mohammad, we have been talking this morning about what the students are fighting for and whether the students are fighting for something different than the older more established political candidates like Moussavi. Are the students seeking regime change? Are they looking to bring down the Ayatollah and completely change the form of government there in Iran? Or are you looking for – as has been suggested – more civil rights, more freedoms within the context of the existing regime?

Mohammad: Yes. Let me tell you something. For about three decades our nation has been humiliated and insulted by this regime. Now Iranians are united again one more time after 1979 Revolution. We are a peaceful nation. We don’t hate anybody. We want to be an active member of the international community. We don’t want to be isolated… We don’t deny the Holocaust. We do accept Israel’s rights. And actually, we want — we want severe reform on this structure. This structure is not going to be tolerated by the majority of Iranians. We need severe reform, as much as possible."

Very interesting. Check out the full interview here: http://amfix.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/22/iranian-protestor-plea/

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