“Dictatorial regimes and their behavior are a phenomenon that must be confronted constantly… It is very important to explain and stress over and over again that people fighting for human rights are not doing this just for themselves, but they are opposing the humiliation of individuals wherever they may be”—-Vaclav Havel, Former Czech President
At this point, we are still unsure whether or not the beautiful dissident struggle for increasing freedoms under the Iranian theocratic boot will flower like the orange revolution of the Ukraine in 2004 to 2005, or will be squelched like the pro-democracy movement of Tiananmen Square, China in 1989.
We know that the Iranian government has a Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij Militia and a vast army, and an arsenal of missiles, bombs and guns. Skulls have been crushed. People have begun to disappear from the streets. The demonstrators have simply their consciences, their yearning for freedom and their tweets.
We also know that the leader of the free world should be standing beside those who are struggling on the side of freedom. President Obama has begun slowly, after seven days of the dissidents courageously putting their very lives on the line, to utter some words of encouragement.. But if we do not stand on the side of freedom from repression, what is America all about? What sort of values do we represent if we descend to the least common denominator of governance, as though those
who rule with an iron whip for a despotic theocracy are on the same moral plane as those who struggle for democracy?
Part of the reason why it has seemed so difficult to have been able to have thrown his support behind those who truly yearn for feedom is that the academy has had a pernicious influence on the feeling of security with the American project.
American exceptionalism, being what President Reagan had stated was “that shining city on the Hill” is difficult to swallow together with those who have been products of our educational system for the last several decades where much of the academy has been imbued with a sense of American guilt over much exaggerated stories of colonialism and Western imperialism.
It is this sort of knee-jerk reaction that has led many liberals, who, ironically once represented the party of the little people and the under-dog, to try not to offend the very worst despots and dictators on the world stage. This impulse inhibits them from clearly being able to distinguish between good and evil. In an attempt to understand the world view of those who are clinging onto the reigns of
power today, theyare imbued with a sense of moral ambiguity at best, or insecurity and guilt over America’s past “sins” at worst. What has occurred therefore is a tacit affirmation of the status quo and a tepid and tardy display of support of those who represent the American core values of peaceful dissent and a yearning for democracy and freedom.
However, today, Friday June 19th, in an astonishing bipartisan act of political courage, the US Congress overwhelming passed a resolution in support of the Iranian Dissidents in a vote of 430 to 1. Chairman Howard Berman, (Democrat, California), and Ranking Minority Leader, Ileana Ros-Lehitnan, (Republican, Florida), are to be applauded for their wisdom in the language and for their successful stewardship of this through the House. This is a sure sign that the our American legislators have cast their lot with those who represent human rights and freedom over those who represent the crushing boot of oppression.
An Iranian dissident has just emailed me that he has had a call from inside Iran, pleading that the West know that this pouring out onto the streets is not about a mere election dispute. It is no
longer about simply ballot counting and rigged elections. Mousavi has become an icon of their general yearning for equality, freedom and democracy.
This whole revolution would not be possible had it not been for the generation who is using Twitter and Facebook and other devices to escape the brutal scrutiny of the authorities of the dictatorial Middle Eastern regimes.
One of my close Syrian friends, Ahad Al Hendi, had used the internet to blog against the government, but was discovered and turned in by the owner of the internet café. He was imprisoned and tortured, and upon release, our State Department helped him to gain political asylum within the United Sates. However, many of his friends have not been quite so lucky and are still rotting away in Syrian jails.
In EMET, we have made it a cornerstone of our philosophy to deal with brave Arab and Muslim dissidents ever since our inception. We nurture and value the friendships of those who have the wisdom to speak out against the dictatorial regimes where many of them have been raised. They have had the intelligence to penetrate through the hateful anti-American, anti-Israeli, and anti-Semitic propaganda that they had been schooled upon. We honor them on Capitol Hill, bring them into our homes to break bread, laugh and cry with them over personal events in their lives, and bring them to briefings with staffers on the Hill, so that they can relate to the human faces behind their suffering.
We are now working to strengthen the voice of the dissent inside Iran and the other repressive regimes of the Middle East, through the Cyber Dissident Project. Similar to the devices which have escaped the watchful eye of the Iranian regime, EMET will begin using twenty-first century technology to work in partnership with other NGO’s to promote and amplify the message of dissent, and to penetrate through the Middle Eastern Iron Curtain of hatred.
Matters of Trust
The Brutal Reality of the Middle East
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