Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Rock the Casbah..."

It's been entirely too long since I last posted, and much has happened, with probably the most important thing being the election, protests, and violent retaliation in Iran. So far, Radley Balko has best summarized my feelings about the goings-on.

We may never know with 100 percent certainty whether the election was fixed, though it sure seems that way. But one thing we sure as hell know now, the Iranian government’s reaction to those protesting the results has shown it to be wholly and morally illegitimate.

In an odd way, this feels to me vaguely akin to how folks must have felt in the 1960s, watching the Civil Rights and Vietnam War protesters march through the streets. And similar to the footage of the Viet Cong prisoner being summarily executed, we have the woman they're calling Neda, shot to death, bleeding out on the pavement. (You must watch it; my eyes will never be the same and still haven't evacuated all their tears.)

And what to do, as Americans thousands of miles away? As George Will says, "The people on the streets know full well what the American attitude toward the regime is." (Thankfully Will is ever the pragmatic and not partisan conservative.) Certainly the people know we are not fans of the Iranian regime, but is that enough? Should they not also be aware that we support their, indeed any, stands for freedom and justice? Hopefully they are. But how do we stand with them while maintaining our own national interests? Should those interests even be a factor when standing up to oppression? (I don't see how they could not.) Above all, is there anything we can do to end the violence?

There are more questions than answers, but one thing is for certain: Iran, and the world, will never be the same.

(There is of course the lingering question, not directly related to the incidents in Iran, of whether we Americans would still have the drive, the motivation, the chutzpah to stand up to governmental oppression. Seems to me these days we tend to shout best with the printed word, to gather in support by posting links across blogs. Which is all well and good, I suppose, but I think it would be nice to march for once.)