Saturday, July 25, 2009

Observations on an Insurrectionary Saturday

1. It was not an embarrassment to see the low level of Iran support activity in the United States July 25, compared to huge demonstrations throughout Europe, Canada, and the Middle East. In fact, it was a wise political strategy. The government and people of the United States are both the Great Satan, so anything we say is discredited. Instead, people closer to Iran are uniting to say down with the clerical leadership.

2. The broad internationalization of the struggle creates an interesting, but potentially dangerous dynamic in Iran. When nations surround a nation telling it its government is not acceptable, the people have a greater chance to rise up - but the nation can adopt the 1990s Serb game of saying "Us against the world." The balance can tip either way right now.

3. It is time to stop making posters equating Ahmadinejad with Hitler. The Populist Podunk was always a simple tool of the clerico-military junta. And Khamenei's action July 24 to force Ahmadinejad to fire Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei indicates that the Iranian president is almost as much a victim of the Council of Guardians as the people of Iran. Our demands should not involve a particular political leader, we should demand the ouster from the nation of the Shia religious leadership of Iran. (Personal wish list - could someone please assassinate Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami - quickly, por favor?)

4. The obvious difficulty of the next steps cannot be underestimated. Urban reformers represent large numbers, but the rural and suburban devout of Iran probably constitute a majority. How much will they listen to either an outsider or insider telling them their most sacred leaders represent the biggest threat to their survival? Think of what would happen if far-right evangelicals attained a huge majority in the United States, and they took over a vetting role to oversee government functions. What if the other nations of the UN told the people of the U.S. they had to arrest or kill all their preachers before things would get better? The authors of the Left Behind series would no doubt charge the entire UN with being a creature of Satan, and would probably get millions to believe it. What the hell? Maybe we should wear buttons proclaiming "We are all the Great Satan."

I know one thing. I had no problem wearing a button in 1979 saying "Hang the Ayatollah," and I would have no problem wearing one in 2009 saying "Hang All Ayatollahs." Maybe no one in Iran would listen. But the Iranian revolutionary road has been a long, long one since 1979, and the road ahead is probably longer still. Buckle your seat belts.

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