As I see the videos, tweets and messages coming from the streets of Tehran, I can’t help but remember my days of demonstrations against the Vietnam War and even against the Iraq War (yes, I was one of the mostly old folks who assembled out there and knew Bush was concocting another oil grab). Oh, and I also spent my time in the military, so don’t think I’m a peacenik.
What astounds me about the behavior of these folks in the streets of Tehran is that they’re actually in the streets and raising hell! Americans don’t tear shit up unless it’s something really important like white officers being acquitted for beating a crack head black guy senseless on video camera. Oh, yeah, and on Memorial Day here in San Diego, the police started beating on drunk college students and military types when some of them pushed a police car into the surf. So, they just passed a law to take drinking off the beach. Problem solved.
Gone are the days of violent demonstrations in my country. Rember 1968, Chicago’s Democratic Convention? A lot of bloody heads and concussions, and they even had a trial afterward. They weren’t putting police on trial, however, they were putting the demonstrators on trial. Back then, it was a lot like Tehran today. We had our own problems with a foreign war nobody liked (not much oil to be had in Vietnam), but there were certainly a lot of lives being lost each week. We even got to see the bodies and the flag-draped coffins!
Today, however, in countries where the media can be controlled by the state (like Iran), the only method the people have of getting their voices heard is in the streets. Is that a good thing? Who knows? If the people actually get to have representatives who reflect what they believe and what they want to do in life, then I suppose it’s all worth the lives lost. However, when things seem to get even worse, then we have to think again about who we’ve just elected.
We had somebody literally steal an election in 2000, and yet we had no riots in the streets or bloody heads. Some legal experts even said the Supreme Court should have been arrested for ruling against the counting of votes in Florida. The Constitution is supposed to protect the people’s right to choose elected representatives, but we had one of the justices (Scalia) explaining in this decision against Al Gore, Jr. “Mister Bush’s rights to a fair election have been violated.” Since when does an individual’s rights figure into a case that involves the counting of votes of thousands of American citizens?
Even today, as I watch the flaming cars, bloody heads, bullet-riddled bodies, I can’t help but realize my own country still has the Patriot Act in full force. This message I am now writing can be freely used against me by our government if they “decide” I am a secruity risk or possible “enemy combatant.” You know, citizens who demonstrate could be easily construed as “enemy combatants” under our present legal system of the Patriot Act. Also, some of our own legislators have been wiretapped, and the governor of Illinois has just been convicted based on a wire tap that would have been illegal when we had our privacy rights. Granted, under a Fascist system like the Patriot Act, the rationale is, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t be afraid of the government.” However, what if you have to fear your own government, as seems to be the case in all too many places these days, such as in Iran? Do we give away our privacy in the name of “national security”?
What about those photos and videos of CIA torture being “legally perpetrated” against prisoners? Obama agrees that it would be a national security risk to show those to the public because the “bad terrorists” would use it to recruit more terrorists. Meanwhile, our own government is seen as being terrorists because what the mind can imagine is really far worse than the reality. Don’t you recall all the “laughing and jokes” about the torturned victims of Abu Ghraib? “Hell, college initiations are worse than that!” exclaimed a lot of politically right of center pundits.
The truth just does not seem to surface in societies where the people’s rights are being supressed. As I watch those videos of my fellow demonstrators coming from Iran, I can’t help but imagine what would happen if our unemployment hits 20-30% and we start demonstrating against politicians who can’t do a simple thing like take the stolen money from the corporate leaders who stole it instead of giving them government hand-outs. Most of this American government we now have has already been on a borrowing lend-lease plan to other governments (like China, Japan, etc.), so aren’t these politicians really working for them and not us? If that’s the real truth, then why aren’t we in the streets too? Oh, I forgot. We’re too busy with who will win American Idol or the the next Super Something. Hell, most of us don’t even vote anyway.
What we see over in Tehran today is just one big “head trip.” Watch out, America, when and if you have to take to the streets. The next movie you might be sending might be one of you with your head split open or a bullet in your gut. Take back your rights before it’s too late.