Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Painted green

Green may be the current cool color in Western pop culture, but it seems the Mousavi-ites dubbed their movement the green revolution because green is the color is of Islam(!). Or maybe that's just an explanation for global public consumption, so that we don't get too suspicious of all those Iranian young people holding up signs in English. Members of the Anglo press are always flattered when people in foreign countries wave signs in English that speak of freedom, even those TV-types who until very recently had been advocating bombing the crap out of Iran, as Glenn Greenwald has recently pointed out.

(Perhaps especially the ones who had been calling for bombing you.) We don't care about you, just what you stand for, so be a dear and stand for something we understand...

To be honest, I find it awfully difficult to evaluate the current goings-on in Iran. Was the election stolen? I no longer assume that the talking heads on TV care about telling me the unvarnished truth, and given how many decades US elites have invested in meddling in the middle east, it's hard not to be skeptical. On one hand we're told that opposition candidate Mousavi held a narrow lead in Iranian election polling just before the vote. On the other hand, it's hard to know how reliable polling methods are in Iran, and the gap in access to technology between country and rural folk may be substantial. Remember the famous story of how the Literary Digest predicted that FDR would lose reelection in '36 because they relied on polls of persons with telephones, which skewed their results to the republicans? On the other, other hand, as it were, just because a phenomenon plays out the way foreign elites(with a history of meddling in Iran's internal affairs) might have desired, doesn't mean it's bogus.

I note that Xymphora is suspicious that Israel and the US have interfered with the events in Iran, spurring the protests on. Even though Xymphora is prone to see a Zionist conspiracy behind every bush, this strikes me as plausible.

We're getting lots of images of rioting, but in a country of 70 plus million, about 20 million of whom live in the Tehran metro area, the only images we're getting are from the capitol, as opposed to from where the other 50 million live. Pepe Escobar has recently noted [video link]that Ahmedinejad's strongest constituency has always been among the rural poor, i.e., people who are less likely to have internet access. Call them, pace Nixon, Ahmedinejad's "silent majority."

Obviously we don't really know if their election was stolen, and we don't know if it wasn't. Apparently the Iranian government will do a recount of some disputed votes, but one assumes this is more about preserving order and shoring up its legitimacy than intrinsic concern.

I'll admit I wonder, as Xymphora and others do, if outside forces are egging on the disorder. But I also wonder if Americans could be moved to stand up for their rights in a similarly bold way without it being borne out of manipulation by elites.(I suppose I'm over-using that word at this point.)

Maybe, in our post McLuhan, insufferably postmodern, SMS/RSS/Social networking age, it's both easier for authentic grassroots phenomena to catch fire-- and easier than ever to manufacture them. Good luck Iran, even when the West has lost interest in your green revolution, so-called or otherwise, and moved on.

cross-posted at Dead Horse.

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