I forget where I heard it, but a Farsi-speaking commentator was talking on TV a few weeks ago about “Death to America” and similar chanted things coming from Iran. Apparently, that is the literal translation, but the sentiment is more aptly translate as “Down with…”. So, “Death to Ahmadinejad” (reportedly chanted by some protesters) is not really a call for assassination.
Posts Tagged ‘iran’
The subtitles added to this video are pretty hilarious:
(some of the text may be NSFW)
In my previous post on the subject, I focused on an op-ed by Charles Krauthammer criticizing Obama for not loudly siding with the demonstrators. Others voicing similar opinions include Eric Cantor, and John McCain.
Here are some notable people calling out this foolish criticism:
Foreign policy was the top reason I voted for Obama, actually, and watching McCain talk about this, I’m glad.
Watching videos like this of conflict between demonstration crowds in Iran and police makes me think about the way herds of animals behave in nature. That sentence didn’t quite come out as well as I’d like: just to be clear, I’m not saying that either the demonstrators or police are animals or sub-human, just that the group behavior seems analogous. The police focus on people on the edges, often the weaker members of the herd. Meanwhile, the strength of the crowd is its size: the odds of any one individual being hurt or killed are low, but the odds that someone will be hurt or killed are quite high. Even the movement of the crowds (see the video link above) really looked like footage of a herd being harassed by a predator.
Here’s video of the herd winning:
I’m not sure if you should watch this video. I found it terrifying, but I’m glad I’ve seen it for some reason. Neda Soltani was a demonstrator in Tehran who, according to some reports, was a year older than me. She was shot by a Basij who was on a motorcycle. The video shows the scene immediately after she’d been shot, as she dies on the ground. She’s become increasingly iconic of the violence in the last few days.
The name Neda means “voice” (or “a calling ” or “a divine calling”, I’ve read) in Farsi.
While I believe that Obama shouldn’t be doing much to “help” the Iranian demonstrators, there are plenty of meaningful things that have been done:
- Foreign embassies in Tehran (Australia, UK, and others) are providing care for demonstrators. It’s been widely reported that demonstrators going to hospitals have been arrested by the Basij EDIT: the part about the embassies is a rumor, and has been denied by the UK and possibly others.
- As was widely reported, Twitter rescheduled its downtime to avoid being down while Iranians were awake (at the request of the state department, too)
- Facebook released a Farsi translation of the site.
- Google added Farsi to its translation tools.
- YouTube relaxed its guidelines for violence in videos coming from Iran in recognition of the media situation
There are plenty of issues for which I have lukewarm support or object to Obama’s handling, but Iran isn’t one of them. Obama has been doing exactly what he should be doing: as little as possible. He’s spoken out against the violence and in favor of rights, but hasn’t made clear statements about being on a specific side of the conflict. Charles Krauthammer’s Op-Ed on Friday argues that Obama should “pick a side” in the conflict, and make it known. The first question anyone should ask with a proposed policy like this is: “To what end?” Would Obama’s full, public support of the demonstrators help the demonstrators? Of course not. If Obama made a statement clearly supporting the demonstrators, that statement would be played on Iranian TV for days on end. In fact, there are reports that it’s already happened, in a sense:
This morning a friend of NIAC who gets Iranian Satellite TV here said that state-run media showed President Obama speaking about Iran this morning. However, instead of translating what he actually said, the translator reportedly quoted Obama as saying he “supports the protesters against the government and they should keep protesting.”
The Iranian government would love nothing more than to paint the demonstrators as a US-fueled movement. If such a thing were successful, it’s reasonable to expect that it would end the movement. Not surprisingly, Krauthammer doesn’t address this aspect at all in his article. To him, foreign relations is just a Ronald Reagan impersonation contest, it seems.
BloggingHeads.tv has a great discussion between Reza Aslan and Eli Lake.
I’ve been reading and watching a lot about Iran since the election, and this is by far the most enlightening thing I’ve seen. Both of them have a firm grasp on Iranian history and they cover the important issues and discuss rationally. If you can make the time to watch this, please do, it’s a good use of your time.
(here’s a link, in case the embed doesn’t work)
I’ve read several reports that the police in Iran were targeting women. I doubt that this really shocks anyone, given the state of women in Iran (despite it being much better than many middle-eastern countries).
This video shows Iranian police beating a woman:
(via Andrew Sullivan, whose blog has been invaluable in keeping up on this)
The WSJ reports that 2 student newspapers have reported that two women and three men were killed during a dorm raid at Tehran University.
This is the violence of a regime in panic. It’s terrifying and may get much worse.
I always hesitate before posting any violent images on this blog. If this bothers you, let me know, as it’s open for debate. A while ago, I was listening to a podcast about imagery of war in the media. Someone made a point that resonated with me, paraphrased: There is something manipulative about showing violence of war, but there is also some manipulative about not showing the violence.
Side note 2:
The photo above is not from Tehran University, as far as I know.
I’ve read this in several places in reports from Iran:
People have left their houses’ doors unlocked for demonstrators to have a safe haven to escape when the riot police attacks them. The solidarity and unity of the people is amazing.
Seeing so many people in the streets around my age, I can’t help but wonder what I’d do in the same situation. Part of me hopes I’d be in the streets, but part of me knows I’d be inside trying to get the Internet to work