June 22, 2009

How to help Iran

As can be seen in some of the comments to the last Iran entry, we have a few readers who cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, metaphorically speaking. Or, if one has to relay the same image through mathematics, they cannot count beyond two: Islam, West... infinity. Hence the idea that one could express concern for the safety of the protesters in Iran and support for their demand for greater civil and political rights without at the same time helping Western imperialism strikes them as utterly incomprehensible.

In fact, doing just that is less difficult than it sounds, because the Islamophobic language of much of the Western press and the authoritarian language of Khameini (and Petras) are mirror image of each other. Both seek to portray the protests as 'Western' and foreign as opposed to Islam, albeit from opposing ends. Hence opposing both is quite doable, provided one approaches the task with decency and not just seeking to paint a fist on a wall with other peoples' blood. The way to go seems to me primarily to help the real voice of Iranians be heard. Thankfully, quite a few Iranian bloggers offer free advice on how to do it effectively.

Here is one:
Tell your elected representatives, especially the American ones, Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative to "SHUT THE HELL UP!"

Obama's handled this PERFECTLY well so far!

Make him know that on behalf of your Iranian friend, Naj.

The slightest American meddling will throw all that spilled blood out of the window! Let us accomplish our own deed. Then, all we ask of your government, is to respect whatever government becomes official in Iran, even if it may be Ahmadinejad. (Naj, neo-resistance)
Got that last line?

And here are some hard and bitter words from Pedestrian:
The left sounds as out of touch with Iran right now as does the right. With the difference that one group is genuinely worried and the other just can’t wait to have those chains around our necks. But I DESPISE the Craig Roberts who writes of “the westernized youth of Tehran”. EVERYTHING is about the West. We can’t demand a fair election without being Westernized. We can’t demand decency or tolerance without being Westernized. Ahmadinejad and his followers cannot be the evil, corrupt, deceitful thugs they are because they just aren’t “Westernized.” (Pedestrian, Lonely Soldiers)
And another advice, about showing up to a solidarity vigil:

A VIGIL IS IS NOT A FUCKING BIRTHDAY PARTY WITH A BLACK AND GREEN DRESS CODE!!!!

While I realize that people of ALL WALKS OF LIFE should be allowed to voice their concerns, we also need to be very careful and diligent right now. Especially with the “velvet revolution” accusations being hurled at the demonstrators in Iran, the last thing this movement needs right now is a picture of snotty Westernized teenagers with smug smiles and questionable wardrobes rallying as its supporters. (Pedestrian, Abide the Code)

Now I don't for a moment pretend that these two somehow "represent" the protest movement in Iran or Iran as whole. I have no idea. These are just two bloggers brought to my attention by regulars on this site. But "representation" is perhaps exactly what is most harmful right now. We have enough, too much, attempts to capture what this movement is and to reduce it to some preconceived usefulness to this or that agenda. What we need is recognition of (and forcing this recognition on our journalists and politicians) its diversity, complexity and unfolding as it is. Because to recognize the people of Iran as voice, as subjectivity worthy in its own right and having the right to determine itself is precisely to recognize it as unfolding and indeterminate, neither an extension of the West nor its fantasmagoric inversion.

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