June 20, 2009

We Are All Iranians

I sat in my kitchen this afternoon and watch nearly an hour of Khamenei’s speech today. While his words rankled me beyond belief, he was not saying anything I had not heard before. Like most petty tyrants only able to rely on predictable religious formulas, casting the faithful against the evil faithless, he reminded me of another small Texan rallying the masses behind , “Us against them.” He spoke from fear, ignorance, and intolerance, and like his American counterpart he used a series of platitudes filled with religious propaganda and clichéd epitaphs, only flipping the nebulous enemy on its head, exchange Islamists terrorist with the West and mysterious Zionist enemies. Strange how both sides can lie to us using the same lies.

He is a small man talking to small closed minds. His speech will be remembered, I hope, as the spark that began the fire of freedom in Iran. His ultimatum can only be met in two ways: Acquiescence and submission (which are the corner stones of Islam) or rebellion!

Unfortunately, my life path has taken from Iran and left me powerless to make that decision. I know it is selfish for me to sit in the comfort of my home and expect that millions of people will swam the streets risking their lives to fight the lies of this small man, but hope is all I can do.

I hope the people will fight back, not with violence and death, because these are the tools of the oppressors, but with their shear presence. A Sea of Green, Iranians united despite their age, class, or religious severity, standing arm in arm saying enough is enough. Saying we will not be oppressed and abused, tortured or killed any longer. Take your best shots now, because in the end this is our nation, our land, our lives, and we will no longer allow you to steal from our coffers, stifle our dreams, abuse our women, or jail our greatest minds. We will no longer allow you to keep our brothers and sisters mired in foreign lands. We will no longer allow you to poison our minds with your interpretation of our religion. We demand freedom.

This is no longer simply a battle for Iranian sovereignty; this is the battle for freedom of ideas and thoughts worldwide. If Khamanei is allowed to win in Iran, the case for freedom will suffer worldwide.

The question now is can the people of Iran do this alone? And should they be meant to? Let me empathetically say here that I DO NOT ENDORSE ANY SORT OF FOREIGN OR AMERICAN INTERVENTION MILITARY OR ANY OTHER KIND. I do find it curious though that the world led by the US was willing to send thousands of troops to Iraq and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people in order to secure their democracy in Iraq, but apparently are willing to allow millions of Iranians be massacred at the hands of a murderous, corrupt maniacal regime. If ever there was ever a time for fighting for democracy, this is it, but please do not think I agree with the neo-conservatives, I know better than to ever believe that the US is a force for freedom or good. We will fight this fight ourselves, alone, in our streets as was meant to be.

As I said, I do not endorse nor wish for any UN intervention or US military campaign. The people of Iran have shown more courage and bravery than anything the world has seen in decades. They have, without arms or bloodshed , defied and opposed the forces of violence and death. They have with love and flowers stood up to the vile attacks and brutality of ignorance and bigotry. Like the movements of India and the American south, the forces of non-violence bathed in shrouds of green have spoken, and they have said, “We will not be subdued any longer.”

Tomorrow will be a day that will hopefully go down in history as a day of great triumph for the forces of freedom and non-violence, but I am not so naïve to believe that the Islamic state will simply release their power. History has shown that power never relinquishes its grip unless forced.

I just wish that this movement had more organization and leadership. On the other hand, perhaps I am wrong, perhaps that is the problem with parties and organizations that they become exclusive and selective, where as what is happing in Iran is a spontaneous, open, and all inclusive.

This letter from a student published in the New York Times says it best,
The truth is, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. The open-air parties that, for one week, turned Tehran at night into a large-scale civic disco, were an accident. People gathered by the tens of thousands in public squares, circling around one another on foot, on motorcycle, in their cars. They showed up around 4 or 5 in the afternoon and stayed together well into the next day, at least 3 or 4 in the morning, laughing, cheering, breaking off to debate, then returning to the fray. A girl hung off the edge of a car window “Dukes of Hazzard” style. Four boys parked their cars in a circle, the headlights illuminating an impromptu dance floor for them to show off their moves.

Everyone watched everyone else and we wondered how all of this could be happening. Who were all of these people? Where did they come from? These were the same people we pass by unknowingly every day. We saw one another, it feels, for the first time. Now in the second week, we continue to look at one another as we walk together, in marches and in silent gatherings, toward our common goal of having our vote respected.

No one knew that it would come to this. Iran is this way. Anything is possible because very little in politics or social life has been made systematic. We used to joke that if you leave Tehran for three months you’ll come back to a new city. A friend left for France for a few days last week and when he returned the entire capital had turned green.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Until last week, Mr. Moussavi was a nondescript, if competent, politician — as one of his campaign advisers put it to me, he was meant only to be an instrument for making Iran a tiny bit better, nothing more. Iranians knew that’s what they were getting when they cast their votes for him. Now, like us, Mr. Moussavi finds himself caught up in events that were unimaginable, each day’s march and protest more unthinkable than the one that came before.

I think it is the nebulous character of this movement that allows for its success. It is this openness and simple message that allows the world to participate via their computers. There are no manifesto or demands beyond freedom.

“We are all Iranians.” The people say and blog and tweet, well if that is the case then don’t give up on us.

Before the elections Mousavi was nothing more than a reformer puppet allowed to run by Khamenei himself, but now he finds himself in a precarious position. He is the haphazard leader of a movement exhausted from sitting still for thirty years. A movement made up of young and old. A movement of freedom. The question now is whether Mousavi can back up his words and lead this movement beyond his empty reformist rhetoric, or maybe a better question is whether the movement can organically lead itself through shear will and faith in freedom.

Roya Hakaian says it best,
Green is not the last color to symbolize the quest of Iranians, and Mousavi, the true winner of the 2009 elections, is merely an incidental figure on the road of the nation's thirty-year plight for freedom and equal rights.
How can we help? What can we do? Remember we are all Iranians now, what happens next?


  1. submission to god is a cornerstone of Islam not submission to Tyranny.

  2. But do you do when the tyranny says he speaks for god?

  3. I love your passion + willingness to help us all better understand the true voice of the Iranian people + how complex, eloquent and diverse it really is. It's so hard to see past the "blah blah blah" of a country's politicians and into the eyes and hearts of the people at times, because most of the time it is the leaders we hear from. This time, the people are speaking for themselves and it has inspired me beyond belief. It gives me chills to read through the tweets that have been written through the night, knowing the risk the authors are putting themselves at. Some of it is heart breaking and frightening. But what opportunity! What great potential! I know this is what they must be feeling too. It's too much NOT to risk it all. In some strange way, I wish my own freedoms were tested like this so I too could experience what it means to fight for those things we in the US take for granted.

  4. Note that men speaking for God are an everyday occurance. That they wear robes and use poetry to tell you that your thoughts are void, your intention suspect, your words crimes. When you confess you don't agree, they mow you down with very worldly metal.

    Know them by their requirement that you submit to THEM.

    If there is a God, it is likely that a nation state is too puny an entity for an all knowing all wise unhuman being to inhabit or micromanage.

    Be especially suspect if this God the man speaks of only seems to like people that look much like you.

    There is no hotline.