This is a guest post from my friend in Taiwan, William R. Stimson.
Since he stole the majority of the people’s votes in last year’s election, Iran’s Supreme Leader has also stolen for himself, or tried to, every other public occasion all through the year. Already by far the most powerful tyrant Iran has ever known, he demonstrated again and again, all year long, before the shocked eyes of the world to what unbelievably murderous and perverted lengths he will go not just to snuff out every last vestige of his people’s freedom – but to break their very spirit. On the first anniversary of the stolen election he had his riot police and government toughs out in greater numbers than ever before to arrest and intimidate anyone who dared speak out. People largely kept off the streets. His forces quickly dispersed the very few, and very small, scattered protests. Unlike the previous occasions all year long, from the clashes this time there emerged no telling incidents or images to be quickly posted on the internet and spread around the world. The New York Times could only report that at 2:30 p.m. a little old lady under the Hafez Bridge chanted some anti-government slogans. The riot police moved in to lay hands on her and drag her away. From every side, hundreds of bystanders rushed to her rescue. The police had to retreat. The little old lady went free.
No matter how much it’s been beaten back by the brutality of the Supreme Leader, there is still a voice in Iran that’s free. Thanks to one little old lady, it continues to tell the world, like it has all year long, that the people of Iran don’t approve of their Supreme Leader. They want their country back. They want to elect a leader who will address the real problems of the nation and serve not his interests, but theirs. It also continues to tell the world, like it has all year long, that Iran’s Supreme Leader doesn’t approve of his people. He wants to mold them to be something other than what they are. He wants to domesticate them, make them into a herd of tame goats, and keep the country essentially to himself for his own corrupt profit, his own narrow and twisted ideology, and his own Medieval geo-political vision.
This man tries to command Iran not with compassion and mercy but with fear and brute force. An impressive stone fort once similarly tried to command the Atlantic coast of Florida. Backed against a trackless and impenetrable swamp, its massive walls and many cannons all faced the sea – making it impregnable. But it fell to a conquistador who slogged his men, in heavy armor, through the steamy and tangled swamp to attack from behind.
Backed by his shallow misinterpretation of Islam, Iran’s Supreme Leader directs all the forces at his command to defend himself against his own people’s legitimate demands for fair play, compassion, and decency – and would seem on this first anniversary of the election to have won the day. In fact he has doomed himself to the fate of the fort. Had he not defended himself the way he did, he could never have been defeated. As it is now, nothing can possibly save him.
It’s only a matter of time before enough Iranians with Islamic compassion and mercy in their hearts come up from behind to expose him for the fraud he is. Against this, the willingness of his revolutionary guards and Basiji to assault the innocent people of Iran will not avail.
Iran is bigger than its supreme leader and his twisted vision, and so is Islam. In the end it is inevitable that both win out over him. All this present craziness will be over.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.