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Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Green Revolution, Continued

The Green Revolution is getting into high gear, it seems.  Unrest has been simmering in Iran since the huge protests over the corrupt election last June.  Now things are getting very violent, with police and state milita forces beating and killing protesters - and in one reported case, running over them with an SUV going at high speed through a crowd - and the big, bad militia guys are targeting women in particular, the fucking cowardly bastards.  Unarmed protesters are fighting back, burning police cars and motorbikes, even ripping up pieces of the sidewalk for stones to throw at the security forces.  Sullivan comments on the anti-government outbreaks across the country:
This has to be seen now as a crippling blow to the coup regime. This vivid demonstration that they simply cannot command the assent of the Iranian people except by brutal, raw, thuggish violence, and that resistance to the regime is clearly stronger, more impassioned and angrier than ever before is their death knell. They have lost any shred of legitimacy - and the Green Revolution is outlasting them in conviction and energy and might.

The significance of this day, Ashura, the day Khomeini regarded as the turning point against the Shah, cannot be under-estimated. Its symbolic power in Shia Islam, its themes of resistance to tyranny to the last drop of blood, its fusion of religious mourning and political revolt: this makes it lethal to the fascist thugs who dropped any pretense of ruling by even tacit consent last June.

We cannot know yet, but this might be it: the pivot on which our collective future hangs.
The situation over there is complex, and I'm not in a state of mind to keep up with all that here in the Blue Truck, though my sympathies are entirely on the side of the people fighting against a corrupt, brutal, theocratic dictatorship.  As much as I've blogged in the last week or two about my personal religious convictions, that's a matter for inward contemplation.   As history has amply shown, it just doesn't work well in the long run to try to impose a religious ideology on the workings of government.  Government should be entirely secular:  of, by, and for the people, with equal justice under law.  Putting religion into the mix results in inequality and oppression, sooner or later.

I refer my Truckbuddies to the New York Times news blog, The Lede, for continuing updates on events, as well as Andrew Sullivan, who as he did last summer is live-blogging the historic developments around the clock, with the help of his small staff.  Both provide links to many other blogs and sites that are receiving updates out of Iran minute by minute.

Also of note:  today the White House, in contrast to the cautious statements made by the President in June, has issued a blunt condemnation:
"We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights," National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.  "Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States.  Governing through fear and violence is never just, and as President Obama said in Oslo -- it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation."
However, your Head Trucker is a little mystified over Mr. Hammer's wording:  "universal rights"?  Is that the Next Big Thing?  All my life, people have been talking about civil rights and human rights - what's with this new lingo - or was he just in a hurry, and thinking of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights?  The adjective applies, however, to the declaration, not the rights.  Am I the only one who pays attention to sloppy thinking like this?

Anyway - the very interesting thing here is the seismic change this country boy is seeing in the way news is gathered, transmitted, and recorded.  When I was a kid, there were only three TV channels:  ABC, CBS, and NBC.  I was in high school before anyone ever heard of PBS.  There was the news on local radio stations, which was usually tied in with a major radio network; and the local newspaper.  That was it.  There was no USA Today, and the only place you could read the New York Times was in the public library - and of course, nobody bothered to go do that.

Now all of a sudden the bloggers - with the help of thousands of people with cell phones and digital cameras - are taking the lead in news reporting, with or without formal credentials in journalism.  And even Facebook and Twitter - which I only heard about last year, and thought was too silly to last - are turning out to be extremely valuable sources and conduits for information.  The revolution in Iran simply highlights the enormous worldwide revolution in communication that's taken place in the past decade.  

Even more shocking - and your Head Trucker doesn't get satellite TV, so I wouldn't know from watching, myself - it seems the big networks today are NOT covering events in Iran.  I'm flabbergasted; how can this be - and why the hell not?  What's wrong with this picture?  It seems just not very long ago I and the rest of the country were watching enthralled as the major news networks showed live coverage of the Berlin Wall's overthrow, the protests in Tiananmen Square, and so forth.  So what gives here?

As Sullivan says:   "If you want actual news, don't switch cable on. Go to the blogs."  The times, they are certainly a-changing.

 P.S. - Do keep American soldier Bowe Bergdahl in your thoughts and prayers; he's being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan and was made to participate in a propaganda film, in which he says he's being well treated.  Sullivan: 
If and when he is released or rescued, we will know the full story. But it stings deeply to realize that the Taliban can now preen as morally superior in their treatment of prisoners than the US under Bush and Cheney - and have a smidgen of a point.

Until his rescue, please pray for him and his family - and for all the servicemembers out there today, risking their lives for us, and for all those military families who spent this Christmas with someone missing, and in harm's way.

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