I recently commented that Americans have a gnat-like attention span. I am forced to admit that this was an unwarranted slur against gnats and an undeserved accolade to the American public.
All it takes to get the People’s teensy little minds off something important is flashing a shiny bauble in front of their collective eyes. “Pay no attention to the important events going on over there! We have round-the-clock coverage of the life and miracles of aging pop stars! Ooooh! Shiny!“
Bah! It is a deliberate insult to those who risked so much and fought so hard for Americans to have the blessings of liberty that their descendants are so easily distracted from the plight of others who are seeking those same blessings. Despite the fact that past US policy makes direct involvement in Iran a practical impossibility, the very least we can do for those who are risking their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors in pursuit of freedom is to pay attention.
The very least I can do is to try- however unlikely success may be- to break people in the US out of their self-imposed craniorectal inversions. Like it or not, here comes the news you choose to ignore.
The government of Iran has been growing increasingly repressive in its attempts to shift from an Islamic Republic to an Islamic dictatorship. Thousands of people have been arrested, and at least 20 killed (according to government figures). Outside estimates of the dead range from 35 to well over 100. The death toll cannot be independently verified due to the near-total lockdown within Iran and the widely-reported tendency of government thugs to abscond with the bodies of slain protesters- often taking the bodies out of the hospitals before notification to the families. The fact that government militias have been searching the hospitals for wounded protesters to arrest has forced protesters to set up improvised hospitals in homes.
The government in Iran is still losing the information war, despite their increasingly-frantic efforts to shut down communications into and out of Iran. There have been reports of active measures (DDoS attacks, for example) against websites outside Iran sympathetic to the protesters, prompting Anonymous to issue a Declaration of War. The desperate measures taken by the government to shut down communications within and out of Iran are having significant economic effects, as well. Business needs communications to survive, and the government needs business to be able to pay their bills. Not least of these bills are the hundreds of Basij who are being paid to assault and murder the protesters.
As I reported earlier, many individuals outside Iran have taken it upon themselves to provide electronic support for the protesters. Many people have provided proxies. Still others have signed up for Twitter accounts and set their time zone and location to Tehran. A small minority- including Anonymous- have engaged in active cyber warfare against the Iranian government. Then there are people who provide ongoing updates from within Iran.
Despite the crackdowns on dissent within Iran, the protesters continue to resist. People go to their rooftops at night and shout, “Allahu Ackbar!” (God is great!) as a sign of protest. In response, the supposedly Islamic government sends its Basij thugs to break down doors and beat people. Each instance of violence creates more martyrs. Each martyr becomes the focus for more protests. Forty days after each killing, more protests will flare up for each new martyr. Every crackdown on the mourning cycle only solidifies the resistance to the government.
All of this repression has a political price- even within the Iranian government. More and more Islamic clerics are calling on the Supreme Burrito to step down, with some accusing him of emulating the Shah. That wily and villainous grey eminence in the Holy City of Qom, Rafsanjani, has become ever more vocal in his condemnation of the Supreme Leader. Some of these clerics may in fact be deeply religious men who believe that the government is acting contrary to Islamic Law. Most of them, however, are growing very much aware of the fact that Khameni is destroying the very roots of the Islamic Republic by wiping out public reverence for clerics with political power. In his desperate attempts to maintain his own political power, Khameni is destroying the foundation of that power. He runs the very real risk of undermining the Islamic nature of Iran.
I have no particular problem with that, but it isn’t my country. The people of Iran are proud to be Islamic. The protesters were originally not interested in overthrowing the Islamic Republic, they just wanted the Supreme Leader to follow the rules. Every act of violence against the people of Iran brings the end of the Islamic Republic that much closer, as more and more people grow angry with the repression. The people of Iran are being trained to despise their political and religious leaders, and every single attempt by those leaders to prevent the loss of power makes that loss all the more certain. The price Iran might be forced to pay for the lesson will probably involve the blood of thousands- most of whom will be innocents.
The least we can do is pay attention.
Current status: disgusted
Current music: Black Dog by Led Zeppelin