The “Twitter Revolution” in Iran has captured the hearts of many Americans, and rightfully so. With the charismatic appearances of “the Persian Obama”, Mir Hossein Mousavi, it should come as no surprise. Realistically, the President of Iran has very little power; the Ayatollah has final say on all decisions including maintaining control of the military. The President’s biggest influence is felt in domestic affairs. This is what is possibly up for grabs in this latest power struggle. The idea of freer elections, fewer moral police patrolling the streets confiscating women’s eyeliner, and a more open media climate, are some of the promises of change being made by Mousavi. These are popular and attractive ideas to the youth of the country in particular. According to Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, one of the most reliable Iranian economists in the US, Iranians age 15-29 make up 35% of Iran’s 70 million citizens. However, they account for 70% of the unemployed. These are frustrated, yet proud Persians who were not alive during the Islamic Revolution of 1979, but who nonetheless want a revolution of democracy to call their own.
Fighting in the streets, risking your life to take on a corrupt ruling elite. This is what Iranian college students and a large part of the citizens fight for. What do Americans riot for? Basketball. Yes, basketball. We feel proud that the Lakers won the championship. In fact, we’re so proud we’re going to take to the streets, break some windows, and drink some beers. Because after all, the Lakers won, so we won too. I had a friend tell me after the game, “Hey Joseph, we won!, the Lakers won!” This is in a nutshell the idiocy of America. We college students take to the streets to celebrate a basketball game, but not when our summer classes get cut, or when tuition goes up by $200 a semester. Celebrating an alleged rapist like Kobe Bryant (at the least a cheating pig) lead our basketball team to victory is somehow very important and worth getting off our lazy butts for.
What did we do when the Supreme Court of the United States installed George W. Bush into the White House? We sat on our fat lazy butts. At least in other countries when elections are stolen the people give a crap and risk their lives to protect their vote. It’s almost like Americans have been made into brainwashed zombies by the constant barrage of inane celebrity “news”, reality TV culture, and the faux nationalism offered by big bucks professional sports.
I can’t say with certainty what happened in Iran’s election. No one but Ayatollah Khamenei really knows. What I do know however, is that there is evidence of serious irregularities and possible fraud from the circumstantial evidence I’ve seen. For example, a widely trumpeted poll by Project for a Terror Free Tomorrow from mid-May, predicted Ahmadinejad winning a 2-1 victory over Mousavi. But, as Juan Cole, professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor pointed out, it was only 34% to 14%. 27% were undecided and 22% refused to answer or were otherwise unaccounted for. Also, 60% of the undecideds were voters who preferred political reform, aka people who would likely support the “reformist” candidate, Mousavi. Ahmadinejad would’ve had to get all of the undecideds in order to reach his supposed total of 63%. This is highly unlikely.
I’ve also seen some pessimistic dismissals of the Iranian peoples’ democratic yearning, by misrepresenting that poll’s numbers in this typical fashion, “Ahmadinejad was winning 2-1 in a recent poll before the election, it wasn’t stolen.” Frankly, it doesn’t matter if there’s little difference between a President Ahmadinejad and a President Mousavi and it doesn’t matter if the US warmongers are co-opting this movement for their own military aims. What matters is that the Iranian people want change. The people are saying they really want their freedom, and they want their votes to count for something. They want better rights for women, they want more than four pre-screened “sufficiently Islamic” candidates to choose from, and they want a president who doesn’t embarrass the country with his holocaust denial conferences. Let’s respect the will of the people. If we criticize the elections or the president or the Ayatollah, let’s do it with respect for the sovereignty of Iran, and let’s immediately call out anyone who uses this struggle for their own selfish interests.
There are 3 categories of such freaks: the Obama t-shirt wearing, Starbucks slurping, “liberal” douche bags who don’t know the first thing about Iran; the warmonging maniacs of the Right Wing who want to use this as a pretext for selling the idea of military action in Iran; and finally the cynical leftists who seek to rain on the Persian Protestors’ Parade just because CNN is covering the story heavily, so it just can’t be for real. The bottom line is if you really want to support the protestors, the best thing you can do is let them decide for themselves what the future of their country will be.