You may recall that in the summer of 2009, thousands of young people in Iran took to the streets, protesting the authoritarian government and seeking some measure of control over their own destinies. I loved it. I felt a great swooping optimism about the middle east that I had never felt in my entire life. I prayed for Obama to put down his ice cream cone and say something to the people of Iran. Say he stood with them for freedom. Say… anything.
Instead, our president shamed me by remaining silent. Nine days after the brutal regime killed hundreds of protestors, including Neda Soltan, a young woman who was not protesting at all, but standing with her father when a bullet fired by one of the secret police struck her in the head. Her horrifying death went viral on YouTube and on that day, we really all were Iranians. The blood that haloed around her broken head was the same blood that flowed in all our veins. She was just a young woman, not a radical. And her gravesite was never disclosed because after the Iranian government quelled the protests, the government did not want her to become a martyr.
In the face of that bloodshed, brutality and evil, Barrack Hussain Obama took to a microphone to say, “We will continue to bear witness.”
Yes, we did. But some of us wanted more. We saw that moment as an opportunity to overturn not just the Iranian dictatorship that held its citizens in a steely death grip, but indeed to end all authoritarian regimes across the Arab/Persian/North African world. How I longed to see those fragile, sclerotic regimes topple brick by brick into the deep blue sea. How I ached to hear that Ahamadinijad had been assassinated.
But that was not in the cards. Our government and indeed all western governments saw fit to not utter a word of rebuke for the regimes or comfort for the protestors who risked their lives to leak out tweets and texts. Here, I posted some of those tweets:
Time to go: ABC thrown out of Iran http://bit.ly/15KqDD #iranelection
My death is irrelevant.Wht is important is that you do not forget my words.We want freedom.i will die for that #IranElection
140 chars is a novel when you’re being shot at. #iranelection
NEWS confirmed: Satellite dishes wr taken away fr ppl in Tehran #gr88 #iranelection
These 2 sites fake designed by state 2 gather info on protestors: mirhoseyn.ir & mirhoseyn.com Warn people& hack #IranElection
Youtube pulling graphic videos of the #IranElection. RT PLEASE: use liveleak.com not youtube for Iran videos
“natarsid,ma hame baham hastim” ” dont be afraid,we’re all in this together” shouted by people when police charged #iranelection
“Anyone with camera or laptop is attacked in streets” #iranelection #gr88
I’ve learned something today. Americans DO care about the world outside America Their media just doesn’t #iranelection
Be careful to remove username when reposting tweet from protesters inside iran. Govt is srching them out. …
our lives are in real danger now – we are the eyes – they need to stop us – #Iranelection
Yes, we bore witness – which was an excuse to do nothing. Reasonable people can argue about why the leader of the free world did nothing. Some would say that we learned a lesson from Iraq: don’t interfere in the affairs of the Middle East. Some might say he was simply a pussy. Actually, I would say that.
As an American, I do not get many opportunities in this climate to be proud of America. I am constantly told that I am what is wrong with the world. Well, on that day, I felt for the first time in my life that we deserved whatever hateful things the rest of the world might say. We were too satisfied with “bearing witness”. Not enough action in that plan.
As news about riots in other parts of the middle east began to filter past my daily wall of work, exercise, friends, I felt those tentative green shoots of optimism even before I understood what was happening. My instinct was a feeling: Yes, Yemen, yes, Gabon, yes Tunisia, rise up! Yes, fight for your God-given freedom!
The news has gotten worse from Egypt, particularly. The Muslim authorities have closed Twitter and Facebook and possibly phones. I want to continue feeling optimistic and angry – I want them to rise up. Smash their chains. This is the time to do it. The Tea Party has set off a thirst for freedom in this country, and with the world in such utter chaos, it seems only right that same strand of individualistic freedom DNA would be activated overseas too.
This is one of the reasons we went to war in Iraq. Those people were born wanting freedom just as we are. The concept was important enough to us that we had a war with ourselves over the concept of being freeborn men. We are the only nation in the entire world to do so. We are FUCKING AWESOME. Yes, they should follow our lead. They should care enough about freedom that nothing else matters. They should disrupt, protest, scream, and kill until they get the freedom that is their birthright.
I hope that happens. But unlike the summer of 2009, I simply can not afford to care. We will likely not do anything about these events, regardless of how dramatic they are. If the protestors can overthrow their oppressors on their own, my country will say yes, see, we exported freedom! If not, we’ll just shut up about it, exactly like we did with the protests of 2009.
I guess I am a little jaded now. I don’t think it will happen. I saw the Iranian government crush the protests too easily, with naked violence, and now there is not a peep. I suspect the brutal governments of those other places will do the same thing.
I hope I’m wrong.