Jun 15

Acknowledging Ahmadinejad (and Others) Means We Lose Our Way

I recently saw a tweet from Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins that hinted the possibility that YouTube clips were being deleted out of Iran regarding their recent presidential election. I have no doubt that this is a reality. Iran has a long history of silencing opposing voices such as feminists and those who wish the country could be secular. This would in no way surprise me whatsoever, but does frustrate me because I feel powerless to help them.

The dialog in the United States must change. We are not facing merely “terrorists” and “evil doers”. We’ve elected Obama and are passed that. In this world, we have open countries, who believe in free speech and civil liberties. We have somewhat open countries, who monitor what is said and may interfere, but do not restrict free speech as heavily as others. Then we have closed countries, who feel every message must come from the top and must be controlled. These nations such as Iran, North Korea, and to a concerning extent China, feel that order is more important than free speech. They feel that control from the top is crucial to executing their plans. While the concept of free speech varies from country to country, the people of China should be able to know that Tienanmen is not just a tourism spot. Women in Iran should be able to blog about equality for women without being detained for “disturbing public opinion”.

Our nation was not born in the paranoia that haunted us for eight long years of Bush. Our country was born from the blood and sweat of people who felt they should have a say in how their lives should be lived. This is a fundamental desire of people around the world, and the way to stay true to our heritage is to honor that. By accepting the Iranian elections and others like it in Egypt, Russia and Pakistan (which we have unfortunately done for decades because it is convenient to us), we are telling the world that this is a right that is good enough for us but not for others. By turning a blind eye to worldwide free speech via the internet, we allow countries dominated by the few to suppress the will the many. Given the harsh realities of being punished in some of these states it can often mean turning a blind eye to murder.

I believe Bush was claiming this idea, but violence won’t fix this problem if it doesn’t come from an internal revolution. It only exacerbates it as it gives these dictators justification behind their strict rule. Rather than criticizing those who suppress, we must praise those who don’t and empower people within these closed countries who seek free speech. We must always remain free ourselves. That is what people around the world admire about us and it’s what we do best. If we do not apply this principle to ourselves as well as others, we are lost.

P.S. Follow Mark Hopkins on Twitter. That guy is smart. Oh, and use the hashtag #iranelections if you are mentioning them so we can keep track of what’s going on.