Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iran 2009 … USA 2000

Like many others, I have been watching the news out of Iran, watching the demonstrations in the streets. I was appalled last night when the “Supreme Leader” [a.k.a. Theocrat in Chief] threatened the protesters with physical violence and even death if they continued their protests.
I deeply admire the courage of the demonstrators.

But let’s do a little reality check. Neither of the Iranian Presidential candidates nor their followers are calling for any significant change in the Iranian theocracy. They still hate the U.S. They still view the U.S. as The Great Satan. So I doubt much will change in Iran … or in Iranian/US relations … as a result of this election.
The core issue in Iran is the question of whether the election was fair and whether the results have been honestly reported. Tens of thousands of Iranians are willing to take to the streets, at the risk of injury and even death, to uphold that principle.

Mind you, I care for the lives of the brave Iranians who are protesting in the streets. I admire their courage, and I pray for their safety. But I also recognize this isn’t a “revolution.” It will not change the trajectory of Iran’s internal or international policy. Nobody there is advocating for what we would recognize as “democracy.” There's little that's revolutionary in these demonstrations, except that they are demanding the votes be counted honestly and with integrity.

That alone is fairly radical. Here’s what strikes me most as I watch the news out of Iran.

The Iranian protests made me think back to the U.S. elections in 2000. There’s a very good chance that Bush and his daddy’s Supreme Court stole the election from the people. And what did the majority of people in the U.S. do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We listened to NPR (or other sources). We watched the ballot-counters in Florida. Eventually we listened to the Supreme Court deliberations. And when the Supreme Court declared Bush the “winner,” Al Gore and all the rest of us just tucked our tails and went away quietly.

There’s a very good chance that the 2000 U.S. election was “stolen” every bit as much as this month’s Iran election was stolen.

What I admire most about the Iranians is that they are not taking it lying down.

Can you just imagine what it would have been like if we Americans in 2000 had had half the courage the Iranians are showing this month? Al Gore might have been president in 2000. More importantly, he might have been President on September 11, 2001. We might have been spared two senseless, unjust wars. We might have been spared the executive excesses, the torture, the extraordinary renditions, the usurpation of executive powers. We could have had an intelligent President in the White House.

But we in the U.S. lacked the courage. We lacked the organization. We lacked the will that the Iranians are showing this week.

Like sheep led to the slaughter, we in the U.S. let Bush’s cronies appoint him President back in 2000. This is the great lesson I take from Iran this week. In contrast to the U.S. majority in 2000, they are confronting a corrupt system. Unlike us, they are showing courage.

[Image courtesy of the Boston Globe]


Blogger Laura Toepfer said...

First, a laugh for you (perhaps a bitter one) here.

Second, perhaps a second thought about the comment "They still hate the U.S." I think you'd like this report from Jason Jones on the Daily Show:

No doubt some Iranians hate us, just as some Americans hate Iranians, but not all. (And I suspect that you didn't mean it like that; blog writing does that to me, anyway, when I write quickly and broadly.)

Finally, and you are welcome to disagree, here, but one distinction I see between the Iranian election and the U.S. 2000 election is that in Iran, the fraud was apparently rampant and universal. In the U.S., the election results came down to one state: Florida. It would be a lot harder to rally the troops if you felt that the outcome was the result of not counting one state, not your own, than of not counting any state including your own. I mean, I'm in California; my state went for Gore. The complaint I had was with Other Parts of the Country.

Furthermore, though I think the decision was awful, the Supreme Court (I think) did have the legitimate authority to decide whether or not to continue counting the vote. Although I'm sure that's debatable, too. In that situation, peaceful protest is certainly legitimate, of course, but it doesn't take away from the fact that both sides got to present their case to the final authority in our government and one side lost.

What boggles my mind is that W. won in 2004! I'm not sure what that says, but I do think that if 2000 were completely and utterly stolen as the Iranian election appears to have been stolen, I don't see how W. could win in 2004.

Perhaps I am being too namby-pamby here and should have been out marching in the streets in 2000. But who knew 2001 would be what it would be or that Bush would do what he did? I was dubious about W., but I thought surely there would be plenty of checks on him. His cabinet looked like a group of well-qualified people. Little did I know.

I felt absolutely no need to protest Bush's election. Maybe that makes me complicit in all that happened afterwards. I don't know. It's a legitimate beef (I seem to keep using the word "legitimate").

OK, I need to go finish up my sermon now.

6/20/2009 11:43 PM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

There was a cartoon in Bart Cop the other day (it disappeared immediately) showing Prez A. going from left to right with a ballot and the text I ran ;=)

6/21/2009 12:11 AM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

.. in t w o words.

6/21/2009 12:11 AM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

As to 2000 I think you are right, Lisa.

6/21/2009 12:13 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Many good points, Laura. Thanks for the thoughtful response. (And for the great cartoon link!)

You're right: I was overgeneralizing about Iranians hating us. I was thinking more about the official "Death to America" policy than of individual Iranians' views.

I'm still not convinced the U.S. Supreme Court had the right to act when it did -- while there were still questions about the Florida vote. It seems they acted for expedience rather than justice.

Perhaps the real focus of my musing was this: In the '60s and '70s, people in the U.S. seemed to believe they had the power to effect change. It seems to me that a general sense of impotence has overtaken us. And I definitely include me in that "us." I recently heard there's to be a big LGBT "march on Washington" this fall. I'll confess my first reaction was a skeptical "What will that accomplish?" Alas. :(

[BTW, I love the Daily Show. Couldn't get your URL to work.]

6/21/2009 8:20 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Wish I could see the cartoon, Göran; I can't "get it" from the description.

6/21/2009 8:27 AM  
Blogger Fred Preuss said...

I think that there should be more courageous dykes like you.
Really, we need your prophetic ministry!
Have I used enough "progressive" cliches in my post?

6/21/2009 11:00 AM  

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