It’s interesting to hear a number of progressives who immediately jumped out the box telling people that they were being duped by supporting the protests in Tehran. Many arrogantly pointed out that we were somehow carrying the mainstream party line and what we were seeing in the streets was a CIA backed operation. In fact one person hit me up and told me I should be ashamed of myself and that I was somehow pushing the mainstream party line.
What was interesting about these progressive assertions was they were in stark opposition of people who we know on the ground. People who are ordinary folks and expressed a different tale. For starters there we many who never been politically involved but had grown tired of the oppression in Iran. There’s been a student movement that’s been in the works for years. I know for myself when I visited Beirut for a conference on censorship, I ran into a number of students from Iran who had been in and out of jail for refusing to stop expressing themselves musically and culturally. They felt like too many freedoms were restricted and so the push for change has been going on for a minute. So I could easily see how folks dissatisfied with the current state of affairs would be looking take advantage of any situation that could spark some change
A good friend of mine Cristina Veran, who co-wrote the ground breaking book Women in Hip Hop, has traveled extensively around the world and was immediately intouch with many of her friends living in Tehran. She too bristled at the notion that somehow her friends and activists who were out on those streets were doing so on behest of the CIA or US covert forces. She explained that was taken place was real. Sadly too many progressives kept pushing this line as if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was what these hundreds of thousands of young people out on the streets really wanted.
The intial push back from progressives was to point out that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s main political opponent Mirhossein Mousavi’s was not this true reformer the way the mainstream media had depicted. If anything he had a shady background and was more on the oppressive side. However, what was not included in the conversation was the fact that the average person in Tehran is much more politically astute then the average person here in the US. Hence whatever was being unveiled here about Mousavi was already widely known and understood. The rebellion on the streets was not done in the same way they might take place here in the US where folks with no political understanding may jump into the fray and roll with the momentum. There people know whats up and they clearly understood that whatever fervor directed at Mousavi was a lotbigger then him. He was a catalyst and symbol for greater possibilities but not the sole personification. I would liken it to President Obama’s run for the White House. Yes, he captured and is well liked by many, but at the same time there was a movement behind Obama that ideally should go on and have a life of its on with or without him.
As far as the people in the streets of Tehran are concerned is that the election was rigged and that a coup of sorts took place. People have gotten killed, many arrested and the move to oppress is in full gear. Current Iranian President Ahmadinejad with all his posturing and boisterousness knows full well that while the US and Israel may have found ways to help stoke the fires and push for some of the unrest, the unrest that is going on is very real and has lot to do with people’s desire for substantial change.
We been covering the protests all week on progressive radio station KPFA. Many of the guest are from Tehran and have been out there rebelling. Many have been long involved with movements to bring about change. In the radio show link we are placing below the progressive community is addressed about why they keep pushing particular line about CIA backing as if they want all those people to go home and accept President Ahmadinejad as their leader..
Something to ponder
click on the link to peep the show Voices in the Middle East. About 10 minutes into the show the progressive community analysis is addressed..
for June 17, 2009 – 7:00pm