Nidra graces us with her unique insight into the Iranian election bloodbath.
On these frail shoulders the world might turn
Paris 19 June 2009
Something is missing from most of the analyses floating around this week as Iranians one by one proclaim liberty against overwhelming odds. So many commentators seem to be afraid to capture the moment in its near miraculous scope. I’ve been connected to the résistance pipeline for years through friends like Banafsheh Zand Bonazzi, Ken Timmerman, and Michael Ledeen. They think this movement could push all the way past Ahmadinejad, past Mousavi, and topple the mullahs.
I don’t know what will come of it. Whether or not the revolt is crushed in blood and broken bodies or, if it succeeds, goes on to build one more variation on the theme of Islamic Republics, at this very moment we are witnessing the unquenchable desire for freedom in its penultimate stage. We see the living proof that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights… No tyranny is powerful enough to resist this truth when its victims believe in their rights.
It is so dramatic! Why doesn’t it resonate in our free world? I feel uplifted at the very thought that it might go all the way. Ayatollah Khamenei is looking frail these days. Ahmadinejad has lost his glow. The very mechanics of it is so fascinating, I can’t think of anything else. You have a population crushed under the heel of turbaned perverts that lapidate, hang, torture, gouge, slash, lash and imprison at will. The tyrants build nuclear weapons, threaten to wipe Israel off the map, menace Europe, the United States, neighboring Muslim countries… Even though everyone in his right mind knows they must not be allowed to get the Bomb, almost no one has the courage and the means to stop them.
Wherever you turn, it’s one big sigh of resignation. Our people living in wealthy democracies are so languid it’s infuriating. No one is asking you to go and bomb Natanz, buddy, just to say that it could be done, someone should do it, and if someone does, the rest of us should nod and say “well done.” Even that is too much for your average conversationer. B Hussein O put them at ease with his coming-out-of-the-Muslim-closet speech in Cairo. He said, among other rhetorical atrocities, that no country can decide who should be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Whew! Sit back and snore, there’s no need to fret.
Now, in the space of one week, something totally unexpected is happening. Even those who hoped for regime change from within are surprised. Rightfully so. It’s one thing to imagine a popular revolt, altogether another to watch it happen.
We are, justifiably, wary. Enthusiastic crowds brought down the Shah and we know where that led. But, millions of individuals acting from their own indomitable need for freedom can, this time around, bring down the mullahs and make way for something like a decent government. This too is possible. No one knows today which way it will go. I am not thrilled to hear the cries of allahu akhbar. But it doesn’t destroy my sense of wonder at the capacity of individuals to seize their rights with their bare hands.
It’s uplifting, because these crowds are composed of individuals, acting one by one together. This is not crowd psychology in all its horror. Men and women each one separately breaking the chains that bind them, each one separately drawing courage from the depths of their being, each one individually crossing the line from slavery to freedom. They are telling us “I am not afraid anymore.”
No surprise that the champions of the Palestinian cause are not inspired by the Iranian people’s movement. The whole vocabulary of the Arab-Israeli conflict is dumbfounded. Nothing the mullahs do is disproportionate, the death toll got stuck at the number seven and no amount of blood could push it upward, graphic images don’t provoke outcries and, unless I am mistaken, no one is calling for a cease fire, no one is going to the UN.
President Obama has egg on his face but the media photoshop it away. Where’s the Obama effect now? Wedged in between Hamas and Abbas, competing for the intransigency award. It’s the Bush effect in Iran today. And the smarties who kept telling us you can’t impose democracy with guns and bombs are exposed. Truth is, they wouldn’t want to “impose” democracy with flowers and candy. They don’t even want to help Iranian citizens who are willing to go for it with their own blood sweat and tears.
In France, the capital of human rights, media coverage of events in Iran is particularly opaque. No enthusiasm, hardly any debate or analysis, no big picture. But our president took a stand!
Am I running away with my hopes? Maybe, maybe not. What if it works, what if the people overthrow the mullahs, what if their freedom is not snatched away once more, what if Iran really becomes the nation that cowardly western leaders have been pretending to see behind the snarling little monkey-face tyrant? A dignified refined nation that deserves a place at our table. A regional power that can have a stabilizing influence on the region. An unclenched fist. So where is the outstretched hand now?
On those frail shoulders the world could turn. If they succeed, would it mean that we don’t have to dread a nuclear attack on Israel or bear the burden of an Israeli attack on Iran? Would it mean no more money for Hamas, Hizbullah, and thousands of mini terror enclaves disseminated throughout our free nations? Would it strike hope in the hearts of other Muslims who are tired of living under sharia law? Couldn’t it turn the tables, shift the balance of power, slice into the lethal narrative and begin a new story, closer to the truth?
Whether they succeed today and fail afterward, or fail today and succeed the next time, nothing can deprive me of this moment of wonder at the power of one single human being—or a million of them one by one-- to transform the world. This is why people like me fervently defend our right to think for ourselves and express ourselves in our own words, without making painful concessions to the multitude of guardians who stand between us and our readers. And this is why I am never pessimistic, never fatalistic.
What will happen to the Jews in Europe, I’m asked. What will happen to Europe. Europe is finished, isn’t it? If the Israelis don’t make peace with the Palestinians and give them a state, what are they going to do, kill them all? What are you going to do with all the Muslims in Europe… There are a billion and a half Muslims in the world, you can’t be against all of them…
Ah but that’s not how these questions will be settled. Not by stale arguments and twisted logic. And not by peace processes! There are upstarts hidden under every hard surface, and their power is immense. Acts of courage show the way. They cast a brilliant light on human events. Benjamin Netanyahu stood up to Obama. Avigdor Lieberman did not cave in to Hillary Clinton. Young Iranians born into a barbaric oppressive state know the taste for freedom. Their elders remember. My heart goes out to them. No matter what happens next, we have shared a moment of humanity. And the world has changed.