Iranian Blogging the Key?
At the time, I thought that this 'revolution' was a good way to start rebellion against the mullahs. In light of what's happening in Lebanon & what Charles Krauthammer is predicting will happen in Syria if Lebanon frees itself, I'm starting to think that blogging might start the dominoes toppling in Iran.
"Individuality, self-expression, tolerance are new values which are quite obvious through a quick study of the content of Persian Web logs," said Hossein Derakhshan, a Canadian-based Iranian journalist, in an interview with the BBC. "The underground lives that Iranian youth have these days. Things like girlfriends, boyfriends, the music they listen to, the films they see." A random survey of blogs showed that taboo topics, ranging from Valentine's Day celebrations to the assets of actress Angelina Jolie, are discussed in passionate detail. This variety is itself a significant development in a closed society like Iran, where women are forbidden to expose their hair, let alone air their grievances against the ruling powers.
If this persists, the mullahs won't be able to control the youth rebellion in their own country. If this persists, fatwas from out-of-touch mullahs won't mean much.
Reformists lost control of Parliament a year ago after conservative clerics declared most candidates ineligible to run for election & voters skipped the polls. But the political debate raged on in the "blogosphere," the term used to describe the worldwide network of Web logs, from Tehran to Talahassee, & the hyperlinks that connect them.
Some observers say the gathering revolution will be blogged, not televised, in the country Reporters Without Borders, which advocates for press freedom, has called "the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East."
I really really love how that 's worded. Seriously, though, it's true that blogging has a chance to break the control of the mullahs. Dissidents like Natan Sharansky have said that a man can't be imprisoned if his mind stays active. He said that Soviet dissidents were more free in the gulags than the guards who guarded them. That makes sense.
The ability to express him or herself is key to breaking oppression because the right to free speech is the power to dissent or agree. It's a fundamental part of liberty. With liberty comes confidence & with confidence comes the absense of fear. A people who don't fear is a nation that can't be intimidated, which is terrorism's biggest weapon.
"Iranian society is very dynamic, with a literary tradition valued for centuries," said one prominent civil society activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Blogs have enabled the opposition to express themselves & buy into those values."
"Through arrests & intimidation, the Iranian authorities are now trying to spread terror among online journalists," Reporters Without Borders said on their Web site. Tehran has harshly cracked down on the online press as of late. Nearly 20 people have been arrested over the past three months, & two Web journalists, Arash Sigarchi & Mojtaba Saminejad, remain in prison.
"But their ongoing attempts to do so have created even more thirst among youth for social freedom." Once people who've been deprived of a fundamental part of life long enough decide that they won't be denied the basics in life, the floodgates are as good as open.
A number of Web journalists released from prison have confirmed allegations of coercion. Nevertheless, the fact that some hardliners in Iran have recently taken a more aggressive stance toward the blogging community shows it's finally recognized its Achilles' heel. "The way the regime has treated journalists & bloggers by jailing, torturing, & silencing has backfired," said Jafarzadeh. "The regime can't...be successful in shutting the door. But their ongoing attempts to do so have created even more thirst among youth for social freedom."
Once Iraqis were deprived of the right to vote. When the U.S. & coalition forces made it possible to vote, the floodgates opened. Threats of death didn't stop them or intimidate them.
When the Lebanese people ignored the orders of the puppet regime to stop protesting, the floodgates opened & the regime resigned in shame.
According to one source, the solidarity that the bloggers have demonstrated in the face of recent persecution has moved superiors in the state judiciary to investigate unlawful treatment of detainees at the hands of lesser officials. This may or may not be a sign the government is starting to back off.
Paradoxically, it could be argued that hardliners undermine their own power by stifling Internet commentary in Iran. The buzz in Washington created by Seymour Hersh's January New Yorker article has only been deafened by the volume of debate among Iranians in response to rumors of a possible U.S. military strike.
That people are defying the mullahs by talking about Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article is a sign that the people of Iran aren't willing to let the mullahs have power over them. That's nearing the tipping point of power. Let's hope this rebellion continues because that's the most feasible way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
The conventional neo-con wisdom, that reform-minded Iranians would seize the momentum of an American or Israeli offensive to topple the authoritarian regime, is discussed with contempt in the Iranian blogosphere.
"Obviously you have no real understanding of the Iranian psyche," wrote one blogger at the peaceiran.com blogspot. "We'd rather live & die under the Mullah's flag than to get 'liberated' by Americans. President Bush has already sabotaged the Iranian people's movement toward democracy once by branding Iran as part of an 'axis of evil,' giving the hardliners enough pretext & justification to prosecute activists & reformers even more vigorously than before."
This was corroborated by the activist, who noted that shutting down "open spaces" is easier under the pretense of national security.
A 27-year-old translator from Tehran, posted at the blogspot iraniandiaries.com, wrote, "Should I believe you worry about human rights in my country? Should I believe you care about the discriminations in my country? Huh! We all know that all these (wars) are just to get closer to oil resources. We all know that these matters can easily be resolved by diplomatic ways...Stop killing the 'human beings' in the name of 'human rights.' And let us choose our way of life by ourselves."
Something tells me that bloggers who express these anti-American views might be part of the 'mullahcracy' & don't represent the mainstream thinking in Iran. While I'm sure that some people think this way, I don't believe it's a majority opinion.
The power of the mullahs has been the power to dictate what thoughts are allowed & which ones aren't. They're losing that battle because of blogs. Once they lose that battle, the beginning of the end of the rule of mullahs is near.
At this critical juncture, blogs have the capacity to serve as an outward-facing window into the grassroots sentiments of Iranians, who appear to be in consensus that self-determination must trump violent upheaval.
If blogs are appraised at face value, there's good reason to believe the movement-in-progress against Iran's authoritarian regime is less a revolution of sticks & stones, never mind bombs, & more an erosion of tyrannical power in which words are the weapons of choice.
That's a great position the Iranians find themselves in. Either option that the mullahs take, they lose. May that form of governance die a quick death.
"Blogging is a win-win situation for the young movement in Iran & a lose-lose situation for the regime," Jafarzadeh concluded. "If the regime would allow bloggers to operate with total freedom, this message would encourage people to seek regime change through increased activity. On the other hand, cracking down on bloggers further convinces the population that this regime is absolutely against personal freedom, & there's no alternative but regime change...that Iranians must do themselves."