'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Ostriches 

Yesterday, I got this e-mail from someone:

From: xxxxxxxxxx
To: xxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 3:45 PM
Subject: FW: Iran: Are you ready for a war with demonized Iran?

Cindy's on to the sham.

-----Original Message-----
From: Cindy Sheehan [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 2:25 PM
Subject: Iran: Are you ready for a war with demonized Iran?

I was speaking in Princeton yesterday and an Indian man asked me about what I thought about what is happening in Iran.
I really couldn't comment because I am not sure about what's going on.

An Iranian man came up to me after and said that was a good answer, because he has a lot of family back there and they are not sure what is going on.

If CNN, MSNBC and Fox have their way, we will have a war with Iran.

This is a good article by someone that I respect a lot: Paul Craig Roberts.


And one from Politico



Here, in a nutshell, we have the perspective of many in the US who purport to be either leftist and/or anti-imperialist. I don't know what is happening in Iran, and I don't want to know. Neither of the links provided by Sheehan provide any meaningful information about the Iranians themselves or ongoing events inside Iran. Instead, they evaluate events through their own preoccupations, the mendacity of the US media, and their belief that governments opposed to the US invariably fall from power because of the machinations of the US and Israel. The possibility that there might be indigenous reasons for Iranians to reject theocratic rule doesn't seem to have occurred to them.

It is rather sad, because while Sheehan deserves great respect for recognizing that the Iraqis have been the primary victims of the invasion of Iraq, despite the loss of her son, she renders the people of Iran invisible, stripping them of any historical agency when it comes to the transformation of their society. A closer examination of the links in her message make this all too clear. One is an article from Paul Craig Roberts, saying that the protests are part of a covert US/Israeli destabilization effort, while the other one, one that states Ahmadinejad won the election, is authored by a couple of neoconservative pollsters. Again, the possibility that the protests have merit, because they challenge the infrastructure of theocratic control over most aspects of daily life in Iran, regardless of the objective outcome of the election, isn't considered.

Of course, there is also the obvious fact that the people who have most effectively discredited the election results are Ayatollah Khamenei and the other people who govern the country. Shooting, beating, killing and arresting people who protest is not consistent with an election result that has integrity. Nor is calling upon government created parmilitaries like the basiji to participate in their suppression. In Central and South American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia, we call armed groups like this death squads, but, in Iran, their activities are apparently considered sufficiently innocuous so as to pass without any expression of concern. Despite all this, Sheehan, and others who perceive the explosion of protest in Iran like her, would have us believe that our failure to recognize that Ahmadinejad may well have won the election is because of a commonality of interest between US media, the US government and Zionists, within and without Israel.

The response of the person who forwarded Sheehan's message is even more disheartening: Cindy is on to the sham. For this person, the Iranians are merely a crowd of extras participating in a sham co-produced by the US and Israel. I feel compelled to explain all this, even though, as I implied earlier, the election result is now increasingly irrelevant, because the protests would be legitimate even if Ahmadinejad did, in fact, prevail. Iranians have every right to protest a government that imposes oppressive social controls upon women and young people, while criminalizing homosexuality, subjecting gays and lesbians to brutal punishments, if not death, and prohibiting the emergence of independent trade unions. I intend to address this particular aspect of the protests in more depth in a future post, but, for now, I will just observe that the left historically, as personified by its anarchist, communist and social democratic manifestations, has always been a secularizing force, hostile to the imposition of religious constraints upon personal conduct.

Sheehan is not the only person sticking her head in the sand on this. I have engaged in an ongoing e-mail exchange with someone who sends me, and a number of others on his list, articles related to anti-Zionism, anti-imperialism, South American social movements and the predations of the American empire. He has sent me a number of articles purporting to defend the Iranian election result, while maligning US media coverage and the pronouncements of Obama. I encouraged him to expand the scope of his submissions by sending out links to the ongoing debate between lenin and Yoshie over at Lenin's Tomb, as I did here earlier today. In other words, I didn't insist that he send out articles and links in support of the protests, but that he merely send out ones that set forth both sides of an engaged, passionate left debate. He was polite, but evasively firm. Forget about it.

It is a marked contrast to lenin, Richard Seymour, who has allowed Yoshie to post several articles and numerous comments that defend the regime on his site. He recognizes that it is essential for people on the left to participate in an open, vigourous discussion. Eli, over at Left I on the News, has also been silent, while posting articles complaining about the hypocrisy of US media and the President in regard to their responses to the Iranian protests. He quite properly pilliories them for their refusal to apply the same standards to the brutalities of US and Israeli actions nearby. He does not, however, take it one step further, as As'ad Abukhalil, the Angry Arab, has done, and address what is happening inside Iran as well. Abukhalil combines a curiosity about the protests from a Middle Eastern perspective with a sharpness of political interpretation that puts the rest of us to shame. Unlike others here in the US, he is aware that waiting for the Iranian protesters to just go away is no substitute for urgently required sociological and political analysis.

Labels: , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?