Iran’s Lesson to U.S: Wake Up, Democracy

Written by Adriel Hampton. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on June 15, 2009 with 2 Comments

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By Adriel Hampton

June 15, 2009

Many of the readers here have no doubt participated in political activism, protest and dissent. For those of us who marched against the U.S.’ heinous Iraq war, we remember screaming our dissent along with millions more around the world, pledging in our hearts that the glass, concrete and steel canyon walls of our cities would not stand against the helpless rage we felt.

But as we’ve been angry, we’ve been soft. We know little to nothing of the true pain felt now by Iranian youth, desperate for democracy. And we activists are far beyond the sentiment of the mass ornament of American culture, where it too often seems that until the TV’s go off, the majority public will continue to sleep in political apathy.

In Iran on Sunday, students bled in the streets – and in their dorms – for democracy. They face communication crackdowns and brutal police attacks.

Here at home, the City of Angels roiled as looters and rioters celebrated a basketball game victory.

On Friday around noon, I first read that both leading candidates in Iran were claiming 60 percent victory. These candidates, pre-screened by Iran’s totalitarian theocracy, hardly represent real choice; Mahmoud Ahmidnejad’s delusional and violent rhetoric vs. recycled politician Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has his own tortured human rights record.

Many U.S. activists would have us take sides, sport the colors of the “reform” candidate who spoke out against Iran’s moral police, while he acceded to a system that offers only hollow democracy and dehumanizes women. Some would have us wear green today.

And yet the U.S. has no claim to a clean past. We are guilty in Iran, we are guilty in Iraq, and “we have always been at war with Eastasia.”

We live in insane times, when Iranians turn out at over 80 percent to vote in a hollow system, while in our democracy we muster only a third of that for an election on the fate of California’s economy. We want – I want – to scream about democracy in Iran. But how many here are screaming about the incompetent and impotent leadership of our U.S. state and federal government?

The vast majority of us sit silent.

We have so little to lose and so we risk nothing.

So to the Iranian people, all I can say is that I love you. I believe truly with Zapata that “it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” I hurt when you shout, “I fight, I die, I take my vote back.” I quake when I remember Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

As you fight and die in the streets, are we able to offer advice? Have we any moral authority? All we American activists can say is that we are watching in awe.

Adriel Hampton is a journalist, Gov 2.0 and new media strategist, public servant, and licensed private investigator. He is running for U.S. Congress in the 2009 special election for California’s 10th District.

Adriel Hampton

Adriel Hampton is a writer, investigator, strategic consultant and mindfulness practitioner. He runs The Adriel Hampton Group Ltd. in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and was a founding member of NationBuilder. Adriel is founder emeritus of SF Tech Dems and a board member at Legination Inc. Before joining NationBuilder, Adriel worked for SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and for the SF Examiner, Hayward Daily Review and Lodi News-Sentinel. He also founded SF City Camp and Gov 2.0 Radio, and, in 2009, ran for Congress in the East Bay.

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  • Rob Anderson

    Interesting to note that Iran’s neighbor, Iraq, has been holding free and fair elections for years now.

  • This quiz thanx to Mickey Z:

    Understanding the situation in Iran (a quiz)

    In order to take seriously the mainstream media/political talk about Iran (elections, nuclear ambitions, etc.), you have to first pretend which of the following:

    A) The US didn’t overthrow Mossadegh in 1953
    B) Israel doesn’t possess nuclear weapons
    C) Iran doesn’t possess the world’s third largest oil reserves
    D) The US actually wants to promote democracy at home and abroad
    E) You forgot that the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons is America
    F) All of the above

    http://www.mickeyz.net/news/mickeyz/fullarticle/understanding_the_situation_in_iran_a_cool_observer_quiz/
    (Answer: F)