It’s sunrise in Iran, and whatever the coming day brings is likely to be both inspiring and ugly.
Monday’s march in Tehran is reported by ABC (via HuffPo) to have been five miles long. Another is scheduled for today, as well as a general strike, amidst numerous reports of dissension among some ruling hardline clerics and countless smaller protests. Some miscellany:
* The violence could have been, and may still become, much worse. And we know very little about what’s happening in cities and towns outside Tehran, 19 of whom were also set to have Monday demonstrations.
* Almost all of our knowledge is coming via Twitter. (#iranelection is the go-to feed.) Iranians are beating the censors — who’ve shut down cell phone operation as well as Internet access — by phoning out of the country to proxies who are tweeting for them. And you, yes, you, can help: go here to find out how to become a proxy.
* Lest you think this phenomenon is an accident, the Mousavi campaign has been promoting the slogan “One person = one broadcaster.” And the international connections thus made are themselves a major, unprecedented phenomenon likely to have important political and cultural consequences.
* American media on this has been just dreadful, when it’s cared at all. A lot of print media today had a tone similar to this appalling NYT “news analysis” that treated the election as a done deal and the protests as essentially irrelevant. (They don’t involve official spokespeople, you know.) To repeat: these protests are no longer about the elections. They’re about the legitimacy of the regime. It scarcely matters whether the reported election result was accurate or not; millions of Iranians don’t think so and have had enough. That’s what matters.
Meanwhile, I heard an ABC Radio “national newscast” this afternoon (on KOMO-AM, Seattle’s self-billed only all-news radio station) that, just before the end of the newscast, devoted one sentence and about five seconds to a story that is riveting the world concerning a country the U.S. has major foreign policy issues with. And CNN’s Larry King, always with his finger on the pulse, devoted his show tonight to….American Idol.
* The always-astute BooMan makes a useful point:
The 1979 revolution in Iran took over a year to unfold….each clash with protesters that resulted in fatalities led to new more impassioned protests as people gathered for funerals and memorials. It’s often said that the revolution advanced in 40-day stages, as forty days is the traditional period of mourning in Iran’s culture. Americans are not accustomed to such slow-motion revolution with massive (over month-long) pauses. Add to this, the new 24-hour news environment, and this feature of Iran’s political and religious tradition should solidly flummox most analysts….Even if things calm down and appear to settle out over the next few weeks, forty days from now you could see a seemingly spontaneous re-eruption of street protests….This attempt at revolution cannot be considered as over until we seem calm sustained for a very long time.