Brynn Craffey

You say you want a revolution....

Filed By Brynn Craffey | June 24, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Iran, politics, revolution

(Please Neda.jpgnote: The video linked to the Guardian article below, while not the complete video of Neda Soltani's death, is shocking, and I urge caution in viewing it.)

I'm surprised there hasn't been more (any?) discussion here about the dramatic events unfolding in Iran...do folks feel that what's happening there doesn't concern them? I know we're an LGBT-focused blog, but we're also global residents, living in a time of incredible change.

As well, folks are dying in Iran in an effort to make their votes count and voices heard. It seems the least we can do is pay attention, especially being Americans whose government set in motion more than half a century ago the events that led directly to what's happening today in Iran.

Moreover, many of us consider ourselves political activists. Although the official policies of the two front-running Iranian presidential candidates didn't differ that much during the campaign, the brutal, authoritarian tactics of the government since the election was stolen has enormously widened the gulf between the two sides.

Likewise, the groundbreaking amalgam of technology and grassroots resistance has changed the face of political activism for some time to come.

Demonstrators are using cell phones, Twitter, YouTube, and other technology not only to plan and coordinate protests and evade roadblocks, riot-police, Revolutionary Guards and government-sponsored thugs, but to circumvent the government's media blackout and offer a powerful alternative narrative to the government's official story. To back it up, activists and everyday people both are providing video, photos, and moment-to-moment text messages of what's going on.

The twitter feed "persiankiwi" is a great example, among others, of what's possible, communicating as it does incredibly immediate, electrifying, and riveting snapshots of a revolution in the making.

The technology seems democratic in the extreme, proving as it does vexing if not impossible for authorities to counter or shutdown. As quickly as the police block one technological avenue, protesters open another, moving from house to house, computer to computer, roof top to roof top. They strip phones of sim cards to avoid betraying friends and supporters if arrested, but then use the phones to take photos, record video, and transmit the images via Bluetooth or USB cable. Once the pictures hit the internet, they're essentially irrepressible. Remove one video from online, someone else re-posts it. Meanwhile, supporters across the globe chime in with encouraging messages, disseminate ("retweet") information and updates, such as the names of embassies who are taking in wounded, and change their Twitter time zones and locations to Iran's to confuse security forces. Proxies and servers are set up, to replace those shut down by the authorities.

And now, as a direct result of this technology, the revolution has a martyr. Neda Soltani, 26, was tragically murdered on Saturday. Within minutes, a video showing her death--filmed on a cell phone and transmitted to an Iranian asylum-seeker in the Netherlands--raced virally across the internet and throughout the world.

Without the new technology, it's likely that Neda's death would have had little impact beyond her immediate friends and family. With it, she has become a galvanizing and powerful symbol.

I heard about her death first on Saturday morning my time via Twitter, and initially regarded the story with skepticism. The next day, I saw what I thought was the complete video. Therefore yesterday, when I was surfing for news and saw a link, I clicked and hit play, thinking to watch it again. Only to realize, too late, that I hadn't seen the entire video.

It's very short--11 seconds?--and absolutely gut wrenching. I wish I hadn't watched it. It has haunted me ever since.

As much death as I've seen, and for an American my age it is a lot, I'd never before seen the instant when a person goes from living to...not. Neda's eyes, as she lays on her back on the street, blood pooling under her, are panicked, then suddenly, there's nothing. They're blank. An instant later, blood pours from her mouth. It's horrifying. Especially to see someone so young and full of promise die so violently, tragically, and--in many regards--needlessly. What? So a cabal of scared, old, superstitious men can try desperately to retain their grasp on power and wealth?!

It is no wonder that her death has galvanized the world, as well as the resistance movement in Iran. The death of this gifted, beautiful, idealistic, and beloved daughter, cut down in her prime and broadcast across the globe, has ensured that the days of the current Iranian regime are numbered. Some 70% of Iran's population is under the age of 30. The government of such a democratcally-minded people simply cannot commit an atrocity of such magnitude on camera and survive. Their demise may take weeks or months, maybe even years, to play out--although I doubt it. And who knows how many more innocent lives will be prematurely ended.

But the cabal has lost.


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I personally resent your statement that we have not discussed this on blogs. Gay men have been hanged in Iran and you expect LGBT people to get all up in arms when some dead caucasian Natalie Wood lookalike Iranian cover girl is propped up as a symbol of injustice. We are not that stupid to fall for this propaganda. My point? Where the hell were you and your posts about the gay men that was discussed on gay blogs SIR???????? You piss me off to no end.

Brynn,

I just came here to thank you for posting on Iran, and to offer some thoughts on why gays aren't writing on the Iran situation. Or, for that matter on anything not related to countries outside the U.S.

But I think ewe's words here just proved my point: most people in the glbt crowd don't care about other countries unless they can get into a tizzy about gays being killed there. At which point, they will happily jump the gun, even if it means confusing, say, Iran and Iraq, and they start screaming for the blood of "Islamofascists" a la Peter Tatchell.

A small number of us, including Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Alex Blaze, and I, have been critical of the rush to judgment and outright racism on the part of the lgbt community (witness, for instance, responses to the issue of Jamaican gay activists, discussed here by Alex or the responses to Mattilda's nuanced discussion of the sign in the Castro admonishing Iraq to "stop killing gays." But, for the most part, gay xenophobia quickly raises its ugly head and assumes that there is a universal gay identity to be rescued, failing to see how its nationalistic fervour to rescue people can actually put those very people in danger.

But some random thoughts with regard to Iran specifically: I find a lot of what's going in Iran interesting, yes, but I'm also wary of deciding that this is a revolution I support. Iranian politics, on which I'm hardly an expert, is complex and, as you so rightly point out in your post, it's not as if the two candidates differed so much.

I note that the former Shah of Iran's son, who declares himself a "Prince" used Soltani's death to stage a press conference and declare her a martyr. That alone is a warning sign for me.

I'm wary of martyrs - I don't believe in them, and Soltani's death is a flash point that has served to further rally people. It will be interesting to see where her story goes next.

In the meantime, I'm searching for material on Iran that's more wary, as I am, of events as they unfold. I came across this in Counterpunch:

http://www.counterpunch.org/bratich06222009.html

and

http://www.counterpunch.org/dimaggio06182009.html

There are a couple more that I'm making my way through as I try to sort out the events of the last few weeks. In the meantime, I'm really glad you got this conversation started here, and I hope we can continue this without resorting to knee-jerk "it only matters if the people killed are gay" responses, as is common in most gay blogs. Thanks again.


More later,
Yasmin

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 24, 2009 4:09 PM

First, thank you, Yasmin, for your response. It's a welcome breath of sanity after ewe.

I note that the former Shah of Iran's son, who declares himself a "Prince" used Soltani's death to stage a press conference and declare her a martyr. That alone is a warning sign for me.

I, too, saw that. I suspect there will be no end of opportunists who will claim Soltani's death for their own purposes. But that doesn’t change the basic fact, it seems to me, that a beautiful young woman was unjustly and shockingly cut down in the street by authoritarian-minded forces seeking to suppress democratic dissent. It is that simple truth that grabs me so powerfully.

And that truth has been echoing in numerous ways throughout the internet on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and elsewhere. In the beginning, I was wary of supporting the demonstrators. Like you, I recognize the complexity of the politics in Iran, and I'm anything BUT a fan of any sort of religious fundamentalism or nationalism. What won me over, however, has been the Twitter feeds.

The humanity, idealism, courage, raw emotions, and calling out of brutality expressed through Twitter have been shocking, inspiring, heartbreaking, and enlightening. Even if I disagreed with the political ideology of the demonstrators—which I very well may!—the brutality and disproportionate use of force on the part of the government would prompt me to come out in support of their right to peacefully dissent, be free of state violence, and express their political will.

Something of a revelation to me, too, has been the fact that, although these protestors are framing their opposition within an Islamic context, many of them seem to share my commitment to nonviolence, free expression, resistance to totalitarianism, outrage against injustice, and other ideals. It reminds me that it’s not religion, per se, but authoritarianism that is the real problem.

These demonstrators are putting their lives on the line to peacefully (for the most part) assert their beliefs, and are being murdered, beaten, arrested, tortured and otherwise brutalized for doing so. That trumps the fact that I may or may not agree with everything they stand for. As many times as I’ve taken to the streets, I have never faced down armed forces who have made it absolutely clear they will not hesitate to kill. Iranians are still taking to the streets despite shocking and unbelievable acts of violence against them by the Iranian state and its goons. I am in awe.

And finally, I’m a parent. My heart goes out to Soltani’s parents and family. I cannot help but identify with their loss and pain, and stand in solidarity with them.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 24, 2009 7:52 PM

Thanks for those links, Yasmin. Just checked them out, and they make interesting points. Especially the points about Twitter postponing its scheduled maintenance. Previously, I'd just thought of that as a good thing. And I'd argue with the assertion that there is no "evidence" of election fraud at this point. Even Iran's Guardian Council has admitted that in some areas more people "voted" than actually existed.

As you said, the situation is extremely complex. Nevertheless, I'll always support the rights of unarmed demonstrators against the powers of the state.

Yazmin, You could never see past your own extreme ethnocentrism if you tried. I do not care enough about you to explain further. You are a cynical instigator. Your self appointed elitist fantasy is in your head. Take another humanities course.

Jackxthexpumpkinxking | June 24, 2009 4:37 PM

I rather enjoy reading Yasmin's (there's no z) posts. They tend to be quite refreshing, and they often remind me of what I overlook or have forgotten. Even if I disagree, its always good to hear another person's perspective. Just my opinion though, and a bit off-topic. Sorry then.

A few thoughts, somewhat rambling, but that's what you get from a scattered morning:

So, during the most recent gayrriage rally that happened in San Diego, right after the CA Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, I saw a woman holding a sign: “Welcome to Iran.” Even though it had dawned on me before that, it made me sure that the major reason why American LGBT people cared about the hangings in Iran was not because of say, any number of human rights abuses that we should be rightfully be outraged by, but rather because it was a deployment strategy. It was a homonationalist attempt to declare American neoliberal values as the ones that had properly bestowed the western LGBT person as that on which rights had been bestowed upon. “We” were the right kind. Of course it was very angering when I saw this woman holding that sign. She was trying to compare the inability to get married to the human rights abuses happening in Iran. I imagine that her head would have exploded if the words Abu Ghraib had been said out loud to her.
Brynn, I think you are right when you decry the silence from LGBTQ blogs on the situation on Iran. Taking off from something Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore said in an interview once, I don’t claim a queer identity (or more fittingly, political) label JUST because of my sexuality. But rather, my identification with queer has to do with larger commitments to civil rights and my discontent with institutions and institutional practices. Thus, for me, it is of extreme importance to care about Iran (and Myanmar, North Korea, Iraq, Somalia, and other lesser-known areas that are experiencing human rights abuses), because I am queer. In the end, the queer utopia I want to envision is impossible because of the human rights abuses that happen in these places, whether it be at the hands of a local government or a foreign interventionist power (i.e. Abu Ghraib).
I think this moment is perfect to think through some of Judith Butler’s more recent work. While her ideas are hardly new (something she readily admits), she is trying to engage in novel ways of thinking about what happens to humanity in times like these. By transposing some of her ideas of the grievable life to the current situation with Iraq, she argues that in the end, there are some lives that we regard as “lives” and there are some that we don’t. In the case of the LGBT relationship with Iran and with a certain comment above, it is clear that when men who were perceived as “gay” were hanged, thus emerged a certain kind of life that deserved to be mourned by “us” who already had the proper gay biopolitical standing (until, of course, Prop 8 was validated it seems). As we have already rehearsed and staged proper outrage about such things, now comes a second (and really, a third, a fourth, a hundredth) life that needs to be mourned. Yet, our mourning capacities seem to be extremely limited by now. As the first commenter made it clear, Neda is not a life worth grieving over, partly because it seems we are barely able to perceive her as a life (alive?), and secondly, because it seems that “we” were ahead of the curve a while back (regardless of whether the homophobic abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were as properly decried). We, as queers, as citizens of the world, as human beings, need to stand in solidarity with the revolution that is happening in Iran. Yes, it may be far from perfect, but it is not our revolution to OWN, but ultimately whenever state power is being violently repressive against any group of people, we need to stand up and cry, if even from afar, “STOP.”

Brynn,
On: "Even if I disagreed with the political ideology of the demonstrators—which I very well may!—the brutality and disproportionate use of force on the part of the government would prompt me to come out in support of their right to peacefully dissent, be free of state violence, and express their political will." I couldn't agree more.

And you're right that something is going on that requires our attention, in terms of the sheer will of people to keep resisting. I'm still trying to sort through the messages as well as the tendency of the U.S. press to paint Iran in monolithic terms. And as I write that, I realise that that's been my struggle all along - to escape the monolithic good/evil dichotomy that Iran in particular comes wrapped in while also trying to see my way through the media hype.

Jackxthexpumpkinxking,
Thanks for your words!

Ivan,
If you ever have/see a photo of that woman's sign, please post it here! Un.Believe.Able. And yet, sadly, not.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 24, 2009 5:21 PM

Thank you, Ivan, for posting this very insightful comment.

I don’t claim a queer identity (or more fittingly, political) label JUST because of my sexuality. But rather, my identification with queer has to do with larger commitments to civil rights and my discontent with institutions and institutional practices.

Exactly! And that is one of the main reasons it is becoming increasingly impossible for me to identify with the gay marriage “movement.”

Moreover, thank you for mentioning Myanmar, North Korea, Iraq, Somalia, and other lesser-known areas, and thus establishing the larger context not only for Iran, but for the emphasis, time, resources and money that marriage has assumed in the LGBTQ “community.”

Neda is not a life worth grieving over, partly because it seems we are barely able to perceive her as a life (alive?), and secondly, because it seems that “we” were ahead of the curve a while back (regardless of whether the homophobic abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were as properly decried)

So well stated!

Another way of illustrating this would be to imagine all the circumstances exactly the same, but if Neda had been lesbian. Then—and only then—outrage on the part of our community would be appropriate?!

It is way past time that I read Judith Butler!!!

So, during the most recent gayrriage rally that happened in San Diego, right after the CA Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, I saw a woman holding a sign: “Welcome to Iran.” Even though it had dawned on me before that, it made me sure that the major reason why American LGBT people cared about the hangings in Iran was not because of say, any number of human rights abuses that we should be rightfully be outraged by, but rather because it was a deployment strategy. It was a homonationalist attempt to declare American neoliberal values as the ones that had properly bestowed the western LGBT person as that on which rights had been bestowed upon. “We” were the right kind. Of course it was very angering when I saw this woman holding that sign. She was trying to compare the inability to get married to the human rights abuses happening in Iran. I imagine that her head would have exploded if the words Abu Ghraib had been said out loud to her.

Great point. I don't see the difference between that sign and right-wingers saying that ending amendments to an appropriations bill is the same thing as what's going on in the streets of Iran. It's just disrespectful.

What interests me about this as well as the news out of Saudi Arabia that 67 filipino immigrants were arrested at what the state has described a "cross-dressing" party (take that as you will) and the silence on LGBT blogs. Personally, I haven't written about Iran because I'm simply not an expert on Iranian politics (although feel free to keep us updated on the topic, Brynn!), but I wonder why the "ME is terrible for gay people" crowd/self-appointed spokespeople for the international queer identity haven't said a thing about this. They're usually so quick to jump on speculation about anti-gay abuses abroad, but anti-trans? With HRW and local media confirming (unlike the hangings in Iran a few years back)? meh.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 25, 2009 6:53 PM

Very good points, Alex! (I hadn't even heard about the arrests in Saudi Arabia you mention!)

I have to object, however, to the implication I'm an "expert" on Iran. I'm sure I know a lot more than the average American, but that isn't saying much.

From the beginning (as I said before) my passion over this has stemmed not from a sense of a "right or wrong side" politically, but from a strong identification with the right of people to peacefully dissent against the state without being beaten, shot, arrested, tortured, or otherwise grievously harmed.

You might want to check out my blog, Yasmin. In addition to sparring with you :), posting way too much about LOST, I've been covering the situation in Iran, including being one of the first bloggers to note the importance of Twitter and other alternative news sources in reporting the situation.

http://theworldofhowey.wordpress.com/category/iran/

Angela Brightfeather | June 24, 2009 5:12 PM

Thank you for the post on Iran.
As they say sometimes, when you put your hand in a bucket of water and pull it out fast, you don't find a hole in the water. That is about how fast Nada will be forgotten in the long run.
The reality of the situation has been muted by the constant pictures of the same crowds in Tehran on the streets and the same people getting beaten on the ground, report after report, due mainly because of the lack of reporting allowed to leave the scene.
All that in mind, I cannot help but look at the images that are shown and drift back to the riots in Chicago at the Democratic convention held there around 30 years ago. Or the scenes and sounds of Kent State and Crosby, Stills & Nash being brought to minds.
The invention of this American democracy, was spawned by similar incidents in our history. Although I feel energized about the Iranian actions of revolt over their election and very saddened by the loss of life that is being shown nightly, I cannot help but wonder if it is futile in the event that the second choice is as bad as the first when it comes to leadership regarding nuclear arms proliferation. I realize that it is now all about their "vote" being counted, but I have to ask the importance of that vote in terms of humanity in general if it does not lead to the world being a safer place for people to live and especially if the same ideas about Isreal and it's validity remained questioned.

Throughot the election that did take place, I never saw any stump speeches from the candidates to be able to form an opinion on if there was any kind of a choice or if it was a choice between the lesser of two evils.

Any lack of concern over the situation today, seems to me to stem from the fact that right from the beginning there was less than any chance of being able to form an opinion here in the US about what the two candidates stood for. Without that pre-involvement then, it is no wonder that people feel removed from the actions that are happening now, except on the basis of humanitarianism.

Personally I hope that they succeed in changing the course of their history. But I also think that as long as they support a government with a cleric at it's head and religous principals that discriminate against women, GLBT people and others, they are barking up the wrong tree and should expect the same kind of election results that they have gotten so far. My support would not be behind our government if Presidential powers were trumpted by the Pope's decisions either. When I see them trying to change that, then I will know they are really dying in the streets for a reason that makes sense to me.

I know that may sound hardened, but revolution is revolution. With three attempts happening in the last 40 years, it seems more like a way of life.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 24, 2009 5:43 PM

That is about how fast Nada will be forgotten in the long run.

Thank you for your comment. I think, however, that you may be underestimating the power of memory and martyrs in Iranian culture.

As well, while I don't want to downplay the violence in 1968 in Chicago, nor the deaths that occurred in the US in the attempt to stop the Vietnam war, if the reports coming out of Iran are true--and they include accounts of streets strewn with dead bodies, which are being trucked away--there is no comparison to what happened in Chicago and with the American peace movement.

And ultimately, I guess I don't see the importance of comparing the various events. Is outrage over injustice a zero-sum equation, as Ivan comments? And do we as a movement or as activists only have a limited amount, that we must then hoard and parcel out?

Or, as I believe, are we as queer people part of a larger global movement that seeks peace, social justice, equality and human rights for all?

Quite right on memory, Brynn..

does the phrase from a song, "...four dead in Ohio" ring bells for anyone?

Brynn,
I appreciate you having the guts to post a non-LGBT issue on a narrow focused, fluff-heavy blog. Gay issues are not the end-all to be-all in our lives. Too bad some gay men cannot think beyond their penises or their marriage albums.

What happens in Iran can affect us in ways we may not ever know. What happens in Iran can also affect LGBT people who live there in ways we may never know. With age, comes the knowledge of how all of us on planet Earth are interconnected. Sticking one's head in the sand will only fill your ears with pebbles and get your ass kicked. consider this your first kick in the ass for those who don't give a shit about Iran.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 24, 2009 7:10 PM

Monica, thanks for weighing in with a supportive comment! And, yes, good points about unpredictable effects on LGBTQ folks in Iran, and our lives likewise.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 25, 2009 7:02 AM

In spite of nay saying by administration supporters the crisis facing our GLBT brothers and sisters is interwoven into the current crisis of the brutal régime of the ayatollahs for the same reasons that the murder of LGBT folks in Iraq is; the US fight to get oil hegemony in the region.

In fact, it’s the US and now the Obama administration, who’s foreign and military polices are determined by the needs of US oil companies and war contractors and their general support for the apartheid zionist régime that are at fault here. (The zionist regime has 150 or so nuclear weapons and wants to prevent any muslim countries from acquiring them and is perfectly willing to involve the US in a nuclear exchange if need be to prevent that. http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/)

Because of Iran’s strategic placement and oil production the US has been violently intruding in it’s affairs since the end of the Second World War. In 1953 the CIA organized a brutal coup d’état against an elected government that wanted to nationalize the oil industry, cutting profits for US/English oil companies. They installed the dictatorial Pahlavi dynasty, gave the Shah’s government a nuclear program and trained the Pahlavi military and secret police to brutally put down insurgents who resented the profitable arrangements for US and English oil companies. In spite of massive US aid the Pahlavi dictatorship was destroyed in the 1979 mass uprising. That uprising was then betrayed by the ayatollahs who aligned with the indigenous Iranian looter class and consolidated power with them, undercutting the plans of radicalized unions, socialists, feminists and youth.

(The US armed Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government and encouraged an attack on Iran which resulted in a brutal 8 year war that killed about 1.5 million Iranians and as many as half a million Iraqis. (Flushed with victory Hussein went after the English created breakaway province of Kuwait and gave the US an opening to intervene. Hussein was not as lucky as other US collaborator who wanted a cut of the pie. After Panama was invaded Noriega was kidnapped and imprisoned in a US jail. Hussein was hung and much of his military and state leadership murdered by the invading Americans.)

Obama’s open hostility and menacing of Iran, including his appointment of rightwing christian oil company spokeswoman Hillary Clinton as SoS, props up the ayatollahs brutal régime. The ayatollahs would be in deeper trouble if they weren’t able to point to the imperial policies of successive bipartisan US régimes. The ayatollahs government is destabilized by the aftereffects of the US instigated war with Iraq (1980-1998), high inflation and unemployment. The current wave of unrest has nothing to do with this or that candidate; all were approved by the ayatollahs. It’s fueled by decades of low wages and repression including the brutal legal lynchings of GLBT folks, students, union militants, youth and feminists.

The LGBT communities here and around the world should insist that Obama and his rightist régime have no justification for any level of involvement in the fight of the Iranian people to end the regime of the killer ayatollahs. Everything the rightist Obama régime does is reactionary because it flows from their devotion to the imperial interests of US oil giants and US war contractors.

Obama’s statements in support of democracy in Iran are hypocrisy personified. The Democrats and their Republican bedmates have no business interfering in any way in Iranian affairs except to declare that all GLBT victims of violence are welcome to US asylum, which they’ll never do.

Any support for any US intervention by Obama supporters is unprincipled and against the interests of GLBT comminutes here and in Iran.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 25, 2009 9:36 AM

Brynn, It was an excellent and thought provoking read and as one who has "been there" I would like to share some thoughts. Firstly, during the time of the Shah there was much more freedom to dissent publicly than there is in Iran today. The Shah was an American ally and a noncombatant with Israel who was attempting to advance the "Persian" aspects of the country's history rather than the secular religious aspects. There is a good argument that if he had kept making cash payments to the Iranian clerics (much like the Saudis do presently) there would have been no religious uprising.

The furor over the Iranian hostage crisis unseated the most decent man to be an American president in my lifetime and ushered in "Reaganomics." There is reason to tread carefully here.

It is said seeing it makes it real. Either more wonderful or horrible. I wish that a twitter feed had been around for any GLBT person who has been a victim of hate crimes whether state sponsored or individually performed.

I applaud those who understand that "our movement" is beyond United States Gay Rights and is really a lifetime struggle for us all to better the lives of all the people who share this small planet. It is not about "people like us" it is about the vast majority of people in the world who have no actual rights of self expression or freedom. Only a minority have our (even limited) freedoms.

I would add that the son of the deceased Shah was a prince at birth. It is a title he really has no ability to effectively renounce and he will never be a power in Iran again. He is a child in 1979 and the world has moved beyond him and there is a lot of deposed royalty in the world. At best their role can be one of moral compass and at worst a sponsor of repression. His father was both and yes Dwight Eisenhower helped to bring him back to the throne in the 1950's. I am glad for the son adding an enlightened voice seeking to underscore the cruelty of this regime.

Monica made woderful points about the "real" world beyond our narrow interests. She too is a proud example of a patriotic American who shares my attitudes regarding the importance of our dissent being wrapped in our patriotism. It is our best ideals we should follow rather than the worst of our past.

Robert ;
Well written, but there was not that much freedom to dissent during Reza Palavi's reign. Dissent, til the return of the Ayatollah from Paris, was inhibited by terror. After that, there was simply too much dissent for terror to squelch it.

I doubt of any one of the people ever interrogated by SAVAK(The Shah's security force) in front of CIA operatives would agree with your assessment of the joyous life in Iran under the Palavi dynasty.

Ms Soltani's death is simply the latest abomination committed by a theocratic, patriarcial government that sustains itself using popular terror as opposed to the secretive terror of the Shah.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 25, 2009 11:51 PM

As I said, his father was both a moral compass and a sponsor of repression, the son (if he has aspirations) will never attain power. The Shah was among the kinder "despots" in a region filled with absolute rulers. He was attempting to pull his country into modernity faster than it wanted to go. This, of course, while retaining his own prerogatives.

Saudi Arabia will be of interest in a similar fashion as it reforms. Will they need a royal family?

And we were as wrong to have put the Shah back on the throne in 1953 as the Russians were to have put Ceausescu in charge of Romania in 1958 to repress her people. You recall, I am sure, the global tit for tat of the period and the state sponsored meddling as well as all parties being lied to by their governments.

Iran bordered the USSR who had drained Romania dry of her oil reserves already. The oil produced by Iran largely went to our European allies. In 1953 the United States did not need to import oil.

In a way this discussion of the Shah (modernism & repression)reminds me of Peter the Great of Russia and what he did to "Westernize" his vast country. Only Peter was much bloodier and there was no twitter feed.

Nothing ever seems to be about one thing does it?

Always nice to share thoughts with you Maura.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 25, 2009 11:08 AM

Robert, thank you for your comments but I refuse to be maneuvered into apologizing for Iran's clerical regime by your comparing it with something equally bad in a different way. As Maura so rightly points out, the Shah's regime was anything BUT friendly to dissent. Likewise, the current Iranian regime, as witnessed by the events of the past ten days.

I believe this is exactly the point of the demonstrators: they want neither regime.

As for the prince, get real. It's not his title that I (nor, I suspect, Yasmin) object to. It's his purported conspiracy to ride that title back into power.

Finally, regarding your thoughts on our movement extending beyond US borders, as you know, I'm in strong agreement.

Quite right Brynn;
And no matter what Reza II's intentions are, the effect will be to lend weight to the arguments of the theocrats, holding up the spectre of a possible return fo SAVAK and a nation that was a puppet to US ambitions to squelch the dissenters...

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 25, 2009 4:10 PM

the effect will be to lend weight to the arguments of the theocrats,

Excellent point!

I am so worried about the people who are being arrested, beaten, tortured and killed in Iran. persiankiwi, the Twitter feed I was following the most, has gone silent. I only hope whoever was behind the comments is safe and sound. I felt like I sorta got to know them.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 26, 2009 12:14 AM

No attempt at manipulation whatsoever. I think that these clerics are power crazed, corrupted, women hating, 15th century idiots. I am confident that they torture in a more advanced method than SAVAK ever imagined. Now, if they were to suddenly collapse inward upon themselves who would step in to the vacuum and what would the result be?

I think it would very quickly become a military dictatorship with nuclear capabilities. They would form a strong alliance with Russia and in time may even achieve the sterling Russian record of adherence to civil rights and dissent. (being ironic there) I do not wish that, but those who hold power rarely give it up easily or bloodlessly as you observe. I am also sure the clerics are not going to lie down easily.

It is an all around awful situation for the participants and the United States has to keep her hands off. Who is to say what Israel might do?
How much strain can the straits of Hormuz handle?

The tragedy is that sooner or later one of these lunatics is going to exercise the real "nuclear option" and in a matter of minutes we will both learn which nations managed to purchase ex-soviet nukes on the black market and see the entire middle east except perhaps Turkey turned into scortched radioactive desolation

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 3, 2009 6:18 AM

Quite true Maura, but I don't think it would end quite there. The United States is going to get involved at a high level if Israel exercises the nuclear option. The entire world could enter nuclear winter.