AFP and Reuters photos
You won’t see this at home: An opponent of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flashes a “V” for “victory” sign with a burning bus as his backdrop in Tehran, and other anti-Ahmadinejad protesters hurl rocks at riot police in Tehran. There were no such demonstrations of love for true democracy in the United States of Amnesia after the Bush regime stole two presidential elections in a row and launched a bogus war that has cost thousands and thousands of lives and billions and billions of dollars. Yes, the American sheeple have been quite tamed, rendered quite harmless.
“Ahmadinejad Re-elected Under Cloud of Fraud,” the Salon.com article by Middle East expert Juan Cole is titled. While I wouldn’t expect a mention in the headline that George W. Bush was “re-elected” under a cloud of fraud in 2004, it would have been nice to have seen a mention somewhere in the article following the headline that the United States of Amnesia is in no position to lecture any other nation about stolen presidential elections.
Don’t get me wrong. If I had to put money on it one way or the other, I would put my money on Iran’s election having been stolen. I’m no expert on Iran, but my understanding of Iran — which Cole’s article, assuming that it is accurate, reinforces — is that it is a theocratically totalitarian nation, which makes “democracy” there just a show.
But the United States of America long has been a corporatocracy/plutocracy, under which “democracy” often if not usually is just a show.
Just as the clerics in Iran really pull the strings, it’s those with the big bucks in the pay-to-play United States who really pull the strings. In both nations, it seems, elections are dog and pony shows meant to give the masses the illusion that the majority of the people actually are, as former “President” Bush might put it, the deciders.
Americans delude themselves over how much freedom and democracy they truly have. We have friendly fascism here in the United States. You aren’t physically forced or tortured or enslaved here; here you economically are forced/coerced and tortured and enslaved, so to speak. (And you are lulled to sleep by such things as endless mindless television, mountains of junk food and cigarettes and alcohol and pharmaceuticals meant to numb you and to enrich the corporations that manufacture them, and a perpetual parade of consumer goods that you don’t need but that you desperately want nonetheless.) But we American commoners are controlled just as effectively as are the masses in Iran; make no mistake about it.
Actually, the American sheeple apparently are better controlled by their plutocratic/corporatist overlords than the Iranians are controlled by their theocratic overlords, as evidenced by the fact that when the Bush regime stole a presidential election not once, but twice, nary a single brick or large rock was thrown through a single store-front window, to my knowledge. In Iran, however, the people have been rioting for two days now over Iran’s apparently stolen presidential election.
TEHRAN, Iran – Protesters set fires and smashed store windows [today] in a second day of violence as groups challenging President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election tried to keep pressure on authorities. Anti-riot police lashed back and the regime blocked Internet sites used to rally the pro-reform campaign.
Ahmadinejad dismissed the unrest — the worst in a decade in Tehran — as “not important.” He said Friday’s vote was “real and free” and insisted the results showing his landslide victory were fair and legitimate. Along Tehran’s Vali Asr street — where activists supporting rival candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi held a huge pre-election rally last week — tens of thousands marched in support of Ahmadinejad, waving Iranian flags and shouting his name.
Mousavi released his first statement since two days of violent protests began, calling on authorities to cancel the election. He said that is the only way to restore public trust. Mousavi, who has accused authorities of election fraud, urged his supporters to continue their “civil and lawful” opposition to the results and advised police to stop violence against protesters. He has claimed he was the true winner of the election.
The violence spilling from the disputed results has pushed Iran’s Islamic establishment to respond with sweeping measures that include deploying anti-riot squads around the capital and cutting mobile phone messaging and Internet sites used by the Mousavi’s campaign.
There’s little chance that the youth-driven movement could immediately threaten the pillars of power in Iran — the ruling clerics and the vast network of military and intelligence forces at their command — but it raises the possibility that a sustained and growing backlash could complicate Iran’s policies at a pivotal time….
So far, Mousavi has issued mixed signals through his website before it was shut down. He urged for calm but also said he is the legitimate winner of Friday’s election and called on supporters to reject a government of “lies and dictatorship.” He has not been seen in public since a news conference shortly after polls closed.
In a second day of clashes, scores of young people shouted “Death to the dictator!” and broke the windows of city buses on several streets in central Tehran. They have burned banks, trash bins and piles of tires used as flaming barricades to block police.
Riot police beat some of the protesters with batons while dozens of others holding shields and motorcycles stood guard nearby. Shops, government offices and businesses closed early as tension mounted.
In a news conference, Ahmadinejad called the level of violence “not important from my point of view” and likened it to the intensity after a soccer match….
About a mile away from Ahmadinejad’s news conference, young Iranians set trash bins, banks and tires on fire as riot police beat them back with batons….
[Yesterday] Mousavi, a 67-year-old former prime minister, released [an Internet] message saying he would not “surrender to this manipulation.” Authorities responded with targeted detentions, apparently designed to rattle the leadership of Mousavi’s “green” movement — the trademark color of his campaign….
Mousavi’s newspaper, Kalemeh Sabz, or the Green Word, did not appear on newsstands [today]. An editor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the paper never left the printing house because authorities were upset with Mousavi’s statements….
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, closed the door for possible compromise. He could have used his near-limitless powers to intervene in the election dispute. But, in a message on state TV on [yesterday], he urged the nation to unite behind Ahmadinejad, calling the result a “divine assessment.”
Again, democracy in Iran apparently is just a show, when, in fact, the clerics pull all of the strings. In his Salon.com article, Cole notes, “With the backing of the clerical supreme leader, Ahmadinejad’s victory is unassailable in the theocratic Iranian system, where Shiite clerics hold ultimate power.”
Of course, “democracy” in Saudi Arabia is just a show, too, with the monarchy there pulling all of the strings, but for some oily reason the U.S. government accepts monarchy in Saudi Arabia but demands democracy for certain other Middle Eastern nations.
The rioting in Iran indicates to me that a good number of Iranians are passionate about true democracy, a passion that my fellow Americans lost long ago, as evidenced by the fact that today my fellow Americans are willing to accept such unacceptable things as stolen presidential elections and the launching of bogus wars for the war profiteers, with nary a tire burned or a store-front window smashed.
We Americans do participate from time to time in peaceful protests, such as the “Not My President Day” rally on Presidents’ Day in which I participated at the California State Capitol in early 2001, and the anti-war rally that I attended there shortly before the unelected Bush regime launched its bogus Vietraq War in March 2003, but the thing about peaceful demonstrations is that, being peaceful, the powers that be are able to simply ignore them. Which they do.
P.S. I have to note that I find this Associated Press news photo from today
(caption here) to be pretty fucking poignant, because it was at the “Not My President Day” rally here in Sacramento in early 2001 that I held a homemade sign that read “George Dubious Bush is not MY president!” — and I see that a young Iranian woman in The Hague, Netherlands, displayed a very similar sign about Ahmadinejad during a protest there today…
To this day I consider George W. Bush’s presidency to have been illegitimate, and I never could write “President” Bush without the quotation marks, because to have done so would have been to give him the legitimacy that he never possessed.
Finally, I have to wonder if the “green revolution” in Iran has any connection to the international Green Party, if the green theme was intentional on the part of Mousavi and his supporters or if it is a coincidence… I’m a Green at heart.