Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Doing Something

I keep scrutinizing news photos and images on my TV screen for someone or something familiar in the streets of Tehran. When I was in Iran thirty years ago attending the Tehran Film Festival, our hostess-guides wore red blazers and wide, effortless smiles, so when I see a face in the crowd with lips tightly pursed, I envision her as her mother with a smile, and if I focus on a young woman whose face is partially obscured by a chador or a scarf, I try to imagine her as a mature woman in a red blazer.

The streets are cluttered now with bodies and barriers and sporadic motorcycles, some overturned and burning. In those days, the heavily-trafficked thoroughfares were filled with vehicles always inching toward a standstill. The best roads went from the Shah’s Palace to his sisters’ palaces, or anywhere else the Shah desired to go.

The Shah’s portrait with or without his family hung in every shop and appeared to adorn every public fence and wall. I asked our guide Miriam if it was mandatory. She replied, “We love our Shah.” Those portraits have long since been replaced by ones of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamani. I wonder if Miriam and her children “love” them.

“The end of a supreme leader will come through supreme leaders,” reads a newer Twitter message. Is Mousavi one of those leaders, are there others and where will they emerge from? An ominous message states, “Mousavi - confirmed - If I am arrested the nation is to strike indefinitely.” Mousavi confirmed?

The Twitter messages are growing thin with lip service and little news. Some twitterers are contending the government is sending bogus messages and warning us not to be deceived. Others are asking us to “Pls set your Twitter accounts to Tehran time to stop the IR auth from tracking the kids who use it. Please ask your friends too. Thank you!”

Three messages, ostensibly from within the country, sound a repetitive warning note: “pls be careful and keep your cameras at home -- or well-hidden ... !” “A note from Tehran: police/basij pulling cars over to inspect at checkpoints... they will seize any cameras along with the owner's ID card.” "They are stopping and searching cars and peoples bags. They are taking peoples ID cards and cameras."

Little we can do from here. But we can do something. We can show our support and concern for the reformers by signing petitions (which are abundant), writing to our congressional representatives and, above all, by letting the Iranian government know how we feel. It worked for Roxana, I strongly believe, and it just might work or help again.

Write to: His Excellency Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee,
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Ave.
New York, NY 1007
e-mail: iran@un.int

Mahatma Gandhi is not around to twitter. Someone did it for him: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win"


  1. I will blind copy you on the email I send to his excellency. I think the administration needs to get off its knees, stop bowing and take a firm stand with the Supreme Leader. My Muslim friends think that this administration "cowers like a woman" (their words not mine) and has little respect in the Muslim world. I agree that we need to stand with the Iranian people in their quest for wetsren like personal freedoms, but if it doesn't come from the leadership of the western world it will have little effect on the thugs running Iran.

    I would also ask that you take up the cause of the American people, Ray, and that they inundate the President with email demanding he keep to the hope and change he promised in his campaign. Demand that he keep his promise to balance budgets & stop printing money and reduce spending immediately, before we have the horrible runaway inflation of the the late 70's and early 80's. Deman that he keep his promise to stop all earmarks. Demand that he keep his promise to end party bickering and unite us on causes we can agree on rather than divide us on causes where there is so much disagreement. Demand that he keep his promise to reduce lobbying and lobbyists contact with Congress. Demand that he keep his promise to fuly fund the Veterans Administration to protect those who have given of their lives to protect all of us. Demand that he keep his promise to increase protection for whistleblowers rather than removing them for criticizing his administration. Demand that he keep his promise to remove troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and let these people settle thier milleniums old problems without our interference.

    Our own government (regardless of party affiliation) has acted without the interests of the American people for too long. We have been passive too long. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We allow the government and the press to manipulate us and lie to us that we aren't as well informed as they are. They talk down to us and we take it. The bill of rights is for all the people not just the select. Exercise your freedoms before they atrophy away.

  2. The Iranian government? The Iranian people? These are short-hand rhetorical constructs far different from the complex realities of both. I was in Iran in 1977 when the American government (and the American people?)still backed the Shah in the name of the Iranian people. Let's talk less and learn more.

  3. I've always been awed by those who say shut up and listen and then say nothing. I wonder if you were also in Persia in the early 1900's when Mohammed Ali Shah ( Not Pahlevi)was backed by Russia? Or perhaps when Naser o-Din Shah was influenced by Great Britain to give up part of the country to Afghanistan? Shahs in Iran/Persia have been under the influence or at war with Russia, Great Britain and the U.S. for nearly 400 years. What is there to learn? That the Iranian "government" has been a dictatorship or theocracy for 400 years and thepeople have been pawns to one or the other during that time? How illuminating!!! What Ray suggests and I support and encourage whole-heartedly is that in a world with amazing communication abilities, to get a message to the Iranian people to keep up their hope and fight for their freedoms. That they become their government. That they should NEVER be narrow minded enough to talk less.

  4. Glad to see you are keeping a good eye on things!