Tuesday, February 15

AN ANSWER FOR JAY NORDLINGER

IrishLaw links to a column by Jay Nordlinger, in which the Managing Editor of National Review Online takes issue with Iranian demonstrations against America, asking: "What kind of people would chant such a thing -- 'Death to America'? Can you imagine a Western crowd, a democratic crowd, chanting 'Death to Iran'? To be specific, can you imagine Israelis doing so? Americans doing so? I can't."

Well, Mr. Nordlinger, an answer to your question may be in one of Iranian blogger-journalist Farouz Farzami's columns, which I linked to in this particular post of mine among a number I have written in recent days about her plight.

Farzami's answer to your question is, succinctly: the absence of freedom after speech in Iran. She amplifies this answer by writing (and this may well be among the written statements that landed her in jail for 36 days and for which she is now awaiting trial and, very likely, a long prison sentence):

The state has a monopoly on public discourse, and intellectuals, whether they are religious, atheist, or agnostic, are simply not heard. The mullahs in Qom, the holy city two hours drive southwest of Tehran, can dial the phone number of any revolutionary judge in Iran and order the persecution of anyone who dares to question the authorities and their divine agenda.


So I encourage bloggers throughout the blogosphere and print journalists across the country to take up the cause on behalf of Farouz Farzami and her fellow blogger-journalists in Iran, who suffer harrassment, arrest, jailing, interrogation, secret trials and harsh prison sentences for daring to do what we do without fear of reprisals or government suppression of our viewpoints. Nightly news vignettes of angry street mobs yelling "Death to America" are not always the real story, and particularly so when a tyrannical government is orchestrating them. It's called government-staged propaganda.

Typing away on our keyboards in the context of our own Bill of Rights and unprecedented freedoms in this country, it is all too easy to lose sight of what so many in this world face, in countries such as Iran and China, when they dare to publish a post on the Internet or print an editorial. As fellow bloggers, they deserve the kind of friendship and support, from we who are blessed with freedom of expression, that President Bush alluded to in his Second Inaugural Address:

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.