As a recent college graduate I see firsthand the responses of my peers, the Millennial generation, to any news story at all times of the day via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For instance, not too long ago all one could see after a quick scroll through Facebook were rainbows. Anyone who was anyone was posting about the SCOTUS ruling that legalized gay marriage. At least twenty-six million Facebook users applied a preset for a rainbow setting on their profile pictures, to proclaim to the world their excitement and support for the ruling.
Unfortunately, and predictably, there has been little reaction among Millennials to the great Iranian nuclear concessions deal, unlike the reaction to the hunting and killing of a famous Zimbabwean, Cecil the lion, which had blocked the majority of other news for days. This exposed Millennials’ grave misjudgment of what matters in our world, and its selective application of concern for world events. Today, most 18-29 year olds are concerned with what is ‘hip’ to be concerned about, not what is destroying civilization’s chance for lasting liberal democracy.
Here are five reasons Millennials should be concerned about the Iran deal:
1. Iran will receive $50-$150 billion in sanctions relief, of which a portion will undoubtedly go to its continued exportation of its radical beliefs. A 2014 poll reported that 78 percent of adults ages 18-29, the prime Millennial age bracket, support gay marriage. If these Millennials were champions of gay rights beyond Facebook rainbows, they would oppose the deal because an estimated four to six thousand homosexuals have been executed in Iran since the 1979 revolution. Gays in Iran lead impossible lives. Forget the legality of gay marriage; homosexuality itself is illegal in the Islamic Republic. As the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world, this extra money will at least partially go to exporting their Islamic Republic to terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, both groups who execute homosexuals. So why don’t Millennials care about this deal, that in part legitimizes Iran in the global community?
2. We cannot be selectively concerned about liberty. My fellow Millennials obsessed over a college student who carried around a mattress in protest of an alleged rape. They hailed “mattress girl” Emma Sulkowicz a hero, and protested when her university’s president wouldn’t shake her hand at graduation (as she lugged a mattress across the stage). Do they protest when minority women in the Middle East are raped by radical Jihadists, and if not, why? Is it because we live so far away from these things? The Millennial generation has grown up in the advent of social media. We know how powerful ‘sharing’ something on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can be. Our own First Lady started an online campaign to #bringbackourgirls, which attracted a lot of attention by Millennials on Facebook, and had over one million shares. For a few weeks the campaign was blasted throughout social media, but did little to bring back the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. We cannot pick and choose what or where to care about liberty. If you care about gay rights in America, you must care about gay rights in Iran. If you care about prosecuting rape in America, you must care that a woman in Iran needs to have four eyewitnesses, all male, to an alleged rape in order for her claim to stand in court. The destruction being far away cannot serve as an excuse to the generation that has seen the far-reaching effects of globalization.
3. The Law is being tampered with, trampled over, and disregarded entirely by our President and his Administration. The President has stymied the traditional role and the spirit of Congress by taking his deal straight to the United Nations, without a Congressional review. This is unprecedented in United States history. Congress approved a treaty in 1969 called the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), “treaty” being the key word. This deal directly violates the NPT, so President Obama is calling this deal an “executive agreement” in order to evade the need for Congress to ratify the deal. When asked what President Obama would do if Congress disapproves of the deal and subsequently overrides a presidential veto, Secretary of State John Kerry had a chilling response. Kerry stated that he was unable “to answer that at this point without consulting with the President and determining what the circumstances are.” Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman was determined to get a response, and replied, “So you’re not committed to following the law?” To my dismay, our Secretary of State replied, “No, I said I’m not going to deal with a hypothetical, that’s all.”
Secretary Kerry could not directly say he could bet that President Obama would not break the law. This is not a twisting of words from the hearing; this is our government official admitting he is uncertain if the President will follow the law. Democracy means if the majority speaks and its will contradicts yours, you nonetheless follow it. That is democracy. What Kerry implied might happen is tyranny. I do not have to explain how serious tampering with democracy is. The ends do not justify the means. The President needs to be stopped immediately from skirting around the law in order to achieve his goal of making a deal with Iran.
4. This deal will expire as we are in the prime of our adulthood. According to the President, at least. In fifteen years the government explained that the deal expires completely. After five years, the U.N. will lift its arms embargo on Iran. After eight years, Iran will be allowed to continue their enrichment research. The deal expires when we will be getting married and raising families. Will you feel safe with the President’s estimated breakout time of two-three months? That means that Iran could send a bomb over us in just over fifteen years. Why would Iran need an intercontinental ballistic missiles program if not to carry nuclear weapons across continents? We should aim for a peaceful future, for ourselves and for our children; we should not grab onto a deal because there’s a bad one right in front of us.
The other problem with this is that unlike the President’s belief in his deal, according to the Iranians, the expiration dates are irrelevant. The Ayatollah contradicted the negotiations in a speech to the Iranian people the day the agreement was signed. He said “the day the agreement is implemented all the sanctions – even the embargo on weapons, missiles, and proliferation – will be lifted.” This directly contradicts the number of years before various embargos are lifted. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, as Iran has never given us reason to believe they will follow these negotiations.
5. Don’t drink the kool-aid. There is another alternative to this deal. The administration likes to paint Republicans as “war mongers.” Try to think for yourselves. It is so obvious that President Obama is attempting to divert energy from the surrenders in this deal to pointing fingers at the entire GOP, and some brave Democrats. The sanctions in place had kept Iran from developing a bomb. There was no reason to give in to this terrible deal. An alternative to this deal is to go back to where we were. An even better alternative would be for our President to retroactively support the Iranian people’s 2009 Green Movement. There were 3 million peaceful protestors calling for an end of the brutal theocracy of the Islamic Republic, and we were silent. Millennials’ Facebook’s were silent. Instead, a few years later, my peers supported the radical revolutions of the Arab Spring. For a generation that commends itself on embracing liberty and assisting the underdog, the Millennials and the United States did not show up. An alternative to this deal would be to try and encourage change in the country by empowering those fighting for freedom in Iran with the support of the United States democracy. Don’t waste time waiting for the still chanting “death to America” leadership to change their terrorist ways, bolster those who are actively democratic and strengthen their ability to accomplish a liberal Iranian democracy.
I apply to my fellow Millennials that this is not a matter of Republican or Democrat; it is a matter of being an ideologue versus living in reality. Believing the best in people is a great thing, but not when it has been proven over and over again that they will not change. Republicans are not warmongers, there is a war going on in the Middle East — and this deal is bringing us closer to that war. Iran is on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons. If this deal were to bring peace to the Middle East, why are we selling arms to the Gulf States in order to convince them of their increased safety with this deal? Why is Saudi Arabia on the path to becoming a nuclear power? Why is Obama rushing to assure Iran’s neighbors in the Gulf that we are doing them a favor? And why would Congress support a deal that prompts Secretary Kerry to acknowledge, “For however long Iran will stay in this NPT, I understand the fear, I understand the concerns that our friends in Israel have.” This deal is creating more upheaval in an already volatile region.
There is a saying that young people tend to be liberal and naïve until they get into the ‘real world,’ start paying taxes, get a dose of reality, and then they become increasingly more conservative – more realistic. Some even say that if you don’t start out liberal you don’t have a heart.
I have a big heart; I give to others. I am that way because it is the right thing to do. Not because I was forced to care by ‘big brother,’ or was pressured to do so because of a Facebook campaign to prove I care about gay rights. I care about the world and those who suffer in it because I am a citizen of it. Everyone should cry when freedom and democracy are in danger. This deal puts freedom and democracy in immediate danger, so everyone should care about it. I choose to live in reality instead of the fairylands of my childhood.
I hope my co-Millennials get a dose of reality before it is too late.
Originally published at World Tribune: https://www.worldtribune.com/2015/08/17/dear-fellow-millennials-on-lifes-menu-is-the-kool-aid-and-a-dose-of-reality-please-be-picky/