In Iran, V stands for freedom

December 29, 2009

I posted recently on Iran’s increasingly fractured elites, and the likelihood that power in the regime would slip to the thugs and bully-boys.  The consequences could only be more instability and more violence.

That has now transpired.  All hell has broken loose in the streets of Teheran and other Iranian cities, and an unknown number of people have been killed. Among them is the nephew of Hossein Mousavi, the former regime figure who has emerged, almost despite himself, as the nominal leader of the opposition.  The government has unleashed its enforcers, and at least some of the blood being spilled belongs to members of the privileged classes.

But events in Iran are now driven by the crowd in the streets, and the crowd, it seems clear, wants nothing less than the overthrow of the clerical regime.  The slogans shouted by demonstrators aren’t particularly subtle:  “Khomenei is a murderer, his leadership is invalid,” for example, and “Religion and politics don’t mix.”

So far, the demonstrators have fought the paramilitary enforcers to a standstill.  How long this confrontation between brute force and ordinary people can last, and how it will end, are unanswerable questions.  Momentum must soon tip one way or the other.

We can’t do much to help, but we shouldn’t pretend to neutrality.  This is a struggle between those who kill to retain their privileges and those who crave freedom.  Our moral support must go to the Iranian people, who face beatings and bullets and a whole machinery of oppression, yet continue to raise the “V” sign in defiance of their tormentors.  They chant “We are not afraid” – and we who already enjoy our freedom should applaud and honor their courage.