June 20, 2009

It will be Twitterized!

Leave it to the neocons, their congressional allies, and much of the “€œconservative”€ blogosphere to make Barack Obama look like an elder statesman of Burkean inclinations.

As the newly color-coded “€œGreen Revolution”€ unfolds on Twitter and other hipster-powered social networks, The Messiah has been rather circumspect in his public statements: saying that he thinks the Iranian people’s “€œvoices should be heard”€ is as far as he’ll go. Obama wants to wait and see, and no matter what happens, he”€™ll meet with the Iranian president, whoever he might be, in the coming months. (Joe Biden stated unequivocally, “€œThe decision has been made to talk.”€) This policy of Splendid Wishy-Washiness with regard to the election is, without question, wise when an outside power is unstable and no one’s certain where the chips might fall.

The Republicans, of course, have recognized this deficit in obnoxious global-democracy happytalk, and have stepped up to fill the void. This is their moment! Since 9/11, you can always count on them to do Stephen Colbert impressions and put forth various windy resolutions in Congress whenever an international crisis of some sort occurs.    

Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R, Va), who’s making a bid to be the next Newt, led the way:

“The Administration’s silence in the face of Iran’s brutal suppression of democratic rights represents a step backwards for homegrown democracy in the Middle East.”€

And later,

“€œAmerica has a moral responsibility to stand up for human rights around the world and to condemn the abuses that are occurring in Tehran today.”

John McCain declared he’s certain the election, in which evil Ahmadinejad won almost two thirds of the vote, was a “€œsham”€ and, more ominously, announced, “€œI hope that we will act.”€ (Thankfully “€œact”€ only means, at least for the time being, “€œnot talk to evil Ahmadinejad.”€)

The blogosphere has been far worse. If Republicans are saying, “€œWe”€™re all Iranians now!”€ then the bloggers are writing, “€œThe Iranians are all Americans now!”€ It’s the Narcissism Revolution, and everything that happens in Tehran is, pretty much, all about us.  

Andrew Sullivan is perhaps the most prominent in this regard. Sully has, of course, partaken in multiple “€œcasual encounters”€ with various political movements in public blog posts over the past decade. At the beginning of the century, he was “€œwarblogging,”€ spouting off all kinds of nonsense about “€œMunich”€ and”€”in 2001!”€”demanding that we consider nuking Iraq before it was too late! By the 2006 midterms, he”€™d switched to bashing the GOP and had gone quasi-antiwar”€”how conveeenient. And last year, Sully, much like Brüno, fell in love with Ron Paul, for a bit, and then abandoned him to follow Jesus Christ Superstar and launch a new career as a White House shill. Now on The Daily Dish, Sullivan’s quoting from various revolutionary “€œtweets“€ from Tehran”€”this vicarious Iranian liberal nationalism being his most pathetic political infatuation to date. The Twitter Revolution, according to Sully, will be a “€œgame changer,”€ as a liberal democracy in the heart of the Middle East will set off a domino effect of progressive change that will transform the hearts and minds … Wait, haven”€™t we heard this before?  

Even some in the Religious Right are falling in love with themselves all over again with this Green Revolution thing. Take this from Catholic author Mark Shea:

It is beyond ironic that the country most identified in our minds as one of the major fomenters of Islamic nutjobbery should suddenly reveal a gigantic population of people who seem to have grokked [apparently this word means “€œunderstand, like, deeply”€] the ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speaking of which, what also stuns me is how deeply in tune the Greens seem to be with ideas which are now quite despised here in the West by our elites, namely, the truth that, as JFK put it, “€˜the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”€™ Our elites, all agog for the New Atheism, sneer at such stuff as incipient “theocracy” even as the marchers in Iran call upon God to overturn the tyranny of the regime. It’s the other side of the coin that secularists never take sufficient stock of: the fact that faith in God doesn’t *just* inspire monstrous deeds. It can also fire incredible heroism and pull down despots.

The Greens in Iran are acting on ideas that are stunningly American (and, of course, deeply Catholic [of course!]). It is Augustine who tells us that an unjust law is no law at all. It is St. Thomas who says that a people have the right to overthrow a tyrant since raw power is not the same as authority from God. And it is the American Founders who insist that precisely *because* man has rights that come from God, not the state, that the state which tramples those rights is rightfully overthrown. How strange it is to hear Muslims shouting “Allahu Akbar!” in support of the teachings of Thomas Jefferson and St. Thomas.

As evidence of this rapturous state of affairs, Shea shows us a YouTube video that looks a lot like all those horrible black-and-white “€œB-list Celebrities “™¥ Obama”€ ditties we were bombarded with last spring. In this dispatch from the barricades, a collection of diverse, attractive Iranians hold up signs above the soft sounds of emo-rock guitar.

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The translation is as follows: Sign 1) Defending civil rights; 2 Counterbalancing poverty/deprivation; 3) Nationalizing oil income; 4) Reducing tension in international affairs; 5) Free access to information; 6) Supporting single mothers; 7) Knock down violence against women; 8) Education for all; 9) Increasing public safety; 10) Ethnic and religious minority rights; 11) Supporting NGOs; 12) Public involvement; 13) We have come for change; 14) Change for Iran.

Shea might like to imagine some long thread of continuity stretching from Augustine to Jefferson to John F. Kennedy to Martin Luther King. And if these figures differ wildly in their conceptions of political sovereignty and the role and scope of the state, this is secondary to the fact that they all believed deeply in “€œAmerican Values”€”€”some Fuzzy Navel of natural rights, soft egalitarianism, and “€œdemocracy,”€ with Augustine’s City of God as a rough draft for the 1964 Civil Right Act. Shea might be interested to learn that, with the possible exceptions of numbers 4 and 9, the Fourteen Points in the video are actually derived from a way of thinking that long predates the 2008 election and the rise of Obama”€”it’s called Leftism, which, by the way, Shea’s Church opposed rather vigorously until the second half of the twentieth century. 

But topping them all is Jonah Goldberg, whose recent piece in NRO indicates that he’s now occupying a realm beyond self-parody: “€œDo it, President Obama, please. Take the side of democracy.”€

My favorite part of the oration is Goldberg’s discussion of the liberals”€™ tragically losing their way”€”that is, not bombing and “€œdemocraticizing”€ enough people!  

During the Bush years, what was best about liberalism had bled away. One of the worst things about the Republican Party has always been its Kissingerian realpolitik, the “€œit’s just business”€ approach to world affairs that amounted to a willful blindness to our ideals beyond our own borders. The Democratic party may not have always gotten the policies right, but it had a firm grasp of the principle.

In the 1990s, liberals championed “€˜nation building,”€™ and many conservatives chuckled at the naïveté of it. Then came Iraq, and Republicans out of necessity embraced what liberals once believed out of conviction. The result? Liberals ran from their principles, found their inner Kissingers and championed a cold realism whose chill emanated from the corpse of their ideals.

Perhaps the most revealing part of the blog comes when Goldberg lets slip the fantastical desire lying just behind his words, and one, I imagine, that’s shared by most third-generation neocons”€”they just want to be loved:

[C]hoose a higher standard. Look to history. Look to the aspirations of the students risking their lives and livelihoods to protest a sham election. Stop fawning over the mythological Muslim street only when it hates America, and look to the real Iranian street at the moment of its greatest need, when its heart may be open to loving America.

Hate to break it to Jonah, but they don”€™t like you, they really don”€™t like you.  

And there’s actually little definitive evidence that the election this past week was actually stolen or that it marked a definitive repudiation of President Bugaboo. Yes, the large turnout, especially among the young, would seem to point to support for a “€œreform candidate,”€ and, yes, Ahmadenjehad’s margin of victory is rather incredible; however, as the Washington Post reports, a “€œnationwide public opinion survey [pdf] of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin”€”greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday’s election.”€ At the very least, the idea that we”€™re witnessing some national awakening to liberal democracy is clearly overdone.

And who is this Mr. Democracy, the man all these Persian admirers of Martin Luther King are cheering for? I admit, I”€™d never heard of Mir-Hossein Mousavi until this week. But according to his wikipedia page, he’s been an editor of the Islamic Republic Party’s official newspaper and a member of the High Council of Cultural Revolution. He served as prime minister of Iran under the Ayatollahs from 1981-89, during the infancy of Iran’s nuclear program. He’s also made no indication whatsoever that he wants to reverse Iran’s development of nuclear power and weapons so as to live in harmony with the peace-loving United States and Israel.

Put another way, if poor Mousavi gets elected, the neocons might decide that they need to bomb Iran anyway!

And even if the Narcissists tell us that Our Man in Tehran is but an unlikely, perhaps unwilling, “€œrepository for the Iranian people’s hopes,”€ the simpler explanation is that the people in the streets are marching for … Mousavi“€”a reform-minded, slightly more liberal candidate who”€™d retain Iran’s independence, nuclear policy, and position towards the Great Satans.  

Tehran certainly is a more modern, secular, multicultural place than one might imagine from watching FOX News”€”with its urban centers, its non-Muslim, Persian, and Zoroastrian traditions still in effect, and its girls who seductively push us their hajibs to display their bangs. I”€™ve heard that in parts of the capital, the atmosphere’s almost parisien. But then does any of this mean that Iranians will like America any more than, say, the Parisians?  I think not.        

I expect a rather rude awakening for many a beltway journalist and blogger when some 32-character “€œtweets”€ much like the following start coming over the wire:

Aktar213: OMG! Americans think we do this because we love them and their “€œfreedom”€
Fereshteh345: LOLROTF!!!
&Atoosa:Sullivan & Goldberg are such tools!!!!!!
The Iranians have surely got their own version of dumbed-down, sassy blogspeak, but the sentiments would be much the same. 


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