Iranian Uprising

Presented without comment:

4:16 PM ET — “Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed.”blog post in Persian, translated by the NIAC.

“I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them.

I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…”


Saturday’s protest is set to begin at 7:30 a.m. ET. Everyone is fearing the worst, and with good reason.

Talk about putting things in perspective.

@IanJ: Yup. I though my day was a pretty grab-life-by-the-balls one until just now.

@blogenfreude: This kind of cackling self-absorption is the mark of a cult ready to implode.

@nojo: This is going to totally distract global attention away from my birthdayworld refugee day.

@Nabisco: Happy birthday Nabisco! You and Che don’t look a day over 25!

@Nabisco: ARGH! How did I miss this? Happy Birthday, ‘biscquick! I should’ve made a trip to Old City for your big day.

Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, international spokesman for Mousavi, in the Guardian (via NIAC):

This is a crucial moment in our history. Since the 1979 revolution Iran has had 80% dictatorship and 20% democracy. We have dictatorship because one person is in charge, the supreme leader — first Khomeini, now Khamenei. He controls the army and the clergy, the justice system and the media, as well as our oil money.

“These words carry tremendous significance,” says NIAC, and I find them stunning. Up until now, everyone’s taken great pains to present the protest within the system: It was a stolen election, and we want a do-over. Despite the “death to dictator” chants, nobody was calling for revolution.

But for Mousavi’s rep to name-check Khamenei as a dictator? And Khomeini?

And posted after Khamenei’s threatening sermon?

Makhmalbaf says nothing Iranians don’t already know. But in the context of the moment, to say it at all is to raise the stakes.

@Nabisco: You and my brother have awful timing.

@nojo: So what do you do when you don’t pray for these folks cuz you’re an atheist? Shit.

@JNOV takes a little english to doctor the spin: Whatever it is, it has the same degree of efficacy.

But whatever your faith or lack thereof, there’s always one thing you can do when you’re otherwise powerless: Know the truth. This might seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at the number of neocons running away from it right now.

I don’t want to agree with Roy on this, but he might be right.

@blogenfreude: I detest Internet triumphalism — I used to skewer Wired for digital triumphalism — and usually I have a knee-jerk reaction against well-meaning pointless symbolic actions.

And yet, I greened up the Stinque twitter logo a few days ago. And there’s that green box top left, linking to the very Sully who Roy calls silly.

Why? Certainly not because I expect either to make a damn bit of difference. But then, given the passion I’ve felt about this all week, I asked myself, Why the hell not? This is a world-historical moment, after all.

But since Roy fancies himself a tough-minded crank, let’s call him out: “Iran’s a theocratic shithole.” Well, that certainly aids the understanding. I’m not sure how much of the population agrees with him. And actually, from what I’ve been reading, a great many do — which is why they voted for a less theocratic shithole.

Nobody on the ground is fooling themselves about Mousavi as an agent of change. He wasn’t even the real “reformist” in the race. But folks made a calculation that he was their best shot, and ran with it.

(Much like folks berating us for supporting unwinnable Obama instead of practical Swampsow last year — only in our case, we had a good argument that we weren’t throwing away our votes.)

I’m sure there are plenty of well-meaning meatheads out there who fit the profile Roy is aiming at. But he makes a common mistake: setting up a caricature, and mistaking it for reality.

@JNOV takes a little english to doctor the spin: Your feelings kinda indicate that there is some kind of inborn impulse to appeal to some higher power, doesn’t it? Thats the meaning of the old saying “there are no atheists in foxholes,” when the shells are falling around you, even atheists pray to something, make the shells fall elsewhere. And those of us with empathy for others, when the shells are falling around them, we pray to something, anything, even if we don’t believe there is anything, to spare them.

@JNOV takes a little english to doctor the spin: Maybe its just a strong expresion of HOPE, we hope for them, so strongly, that it can only be expressed as a personal appeal, to something, someone.

@nojo: I remember czekhoslovakia in 1968. Unfortunately, I think thats the apt comparison. How do you spell checkoslvakia?

What to make of the reports that the unrest is largely limited to Tehran itself, that the rest of the country is solidly either cowed or supportive of Khameni?

@Promnight: Well, I did use “Tehran Spring” as a tag last weekend with that in the back of my mind.

But while Comparative Uprisings can be instructive, the differences are also important. The tanks invading Czechoslovakia were Russian, after all, not local. And while Tiananmen was definitely local, that applied to the protesters as well as the government. The sheer size of the crowds, and what brought them to the streets, is much different here. Iran is not China.

Then there’s Western Wishful Thinking, which was more an issue last weekend than now — the notion that we’re not merely focusing on Tehran only, but the posh side of town. While so much is conjecture this week, given the clampdown on communications, I think those criticisms have been conclusively disposed.

Bear in mind that the population is not only predominantly young, but only 51 percent Persian — including 7 percent Kurds, who aren’t exactly camp followers. The country is also predominantly urban, not rural.

Ahmadinejad has his dimwit base (much like fundies here), but even on the Assembly of Experts, Khamenei can only count on a quarter of its members to back him. Rafsanjani, meanwhile, can count on a third — and everyone else watches to see which way the wind blows. (The Assembly has the formal power to replace Khamenei, presuming the Republican Guard doesn’t intervene.)

Bottom line: Khamenei certainly has the power to send in the tanks, and his threat is very real. But unlike Czechoslovakia or China (or Burma, which has also been brought up), he cannot definitively crush the protest. All he can do is start a very bloody civil war.

@nojo: Thanks for talking me down. I want so badly for those people to have meaningful change, not the Reagan to George I sort of change we experienced in the 80s. Kindler gentler my ass.

@nojo: As I understand it, I’m-A-Dinner-Jacket and the Ayatollahs have managed to royally screw up the Iranian economy, or, looked at another way, don’t have a clue how fix what is wrong with it. I’m wondering how much this is contributing to what we’re seeing.

On a more cheerful note, I hung out for a while with SFL today in SF. Always a pleasure.

@Dodgerblue: I’m wondering how much this is contributing to what we’re seeing.

A week ago, almost all of it — the issues were very conventional, very understandable. Inflation and unemployment in Iran are terrible.

And then Grand Theft Ahmadinejad stole the election.

That’s what’s extraordinary about the week: The election wasn’t about the regime. Sure, everybody knows it’s corrupt to the gills, but nobody was calling for heads on pikes. And everybody knows the Guardian Council can veto anything it pleases, but nobody was calling to abolish it.

This wasn’t People Power.

Not a week ago, anyway.

It’s that theft in plain sight, followed by the Basij violence, followed by Ahmadinejad calling the protesters “dust,” followed by much more Basij violence, that escalated this from a Disputed Election to a Crisis of Legitimacy to what is now the brink of civil war.

Nothing required the situation to evolve to this point. Nothing, that is, except a very stubborn Ayatollah who doesn’t know how to craft a plausible electoral spreadsheet.

@blogenfreude: I ain’t going this far out on a limb without doing my homework.

@Dodgerblue: Mass gatherings of hopefuls in desert city eagerly awaiting – the return of Manny Ramirez with the Dodgers’ AAA farm club next week.–Manny-to-play-for-Isotopes

@Dodgerblue: Lack of jobs or options for the millions of rather well-educated young people contributing to it, I think.

Definitely a good meeting of Stinque Law LLP.

@SanFranLefty: CNN commentator said exact same thing – imagine looking at five people on the street and three of them are under 30.

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