July 10: Why July 9 matters

July 10: Why July 9 matters
: It doesn’t matter whether 10 people or 10,000 people came out to demonstrate for freedom and democracy in Iran. Fear and hard experience kept many off the streets; the student leaders called off their demonstrations and, even so, were kidnapped by the mullahs’ thugs. There is reason for fear. Still, the numbers don’t matter. The impact is the same.

July 9 matters.

It matters because the people of Iran know that they have a cause, the cause of freedom.

The mullahs of Iran know that their people are revolting; they know their days must be numbered.

The politicians of America know there is a cause to support. I hope the politicians of other countries know this, too.

And, not insignificantly, the bloggers of Iran and the bloggers of the rest of the world have made connections. We’ve gotten to know each other and respect each other. We’ve learned the fuller story of Iran’s struggle for freedom and of Iran’s rich and real life. Iranian people have learned of Americans’ support for their cause (so what if this is not the cause of the left or of students on the streets; it is the cause of the blogosphere). And Americans have learned of Iranians’ respect for them.

And Iranian bloggers have seen that they can use this new medium to tell their stories and find support and make connections.

July 9 is just the beginning of the story. July 9 matters.

  • webgard

    Listen Jeff! July 9th was not the begining of anything. atleast not as far as Iranians were concerned. I tried to tell you this a month ago but no: it all had to come down one day.
    July 9th was certainly not a begining.

  • Webgard:
    Of course, it is not the beginning of anything in Iran. It is, however, the beginning of things coming together: the Iranian cause; the Iranian weblog culture; the Iranian online connections with Americans and others; the attention to the cause via weblogs and media…

  • Zec

    Excuse me ! This is crazy. You are thinking you have more right and power that you acctualy have.
    This late protest are not worth for such buzz newsing all around blogsphere.
    It’s so silly I can’t describe it. Jeff, I would like to tell you that politelly: Just look at the history. This yelling on this blog, on other blogs like Sullivan and all this consentrated effort by some circles in USA are by nature fascist idea proliferation. Does we in Europe knnow about your effort or really care ? No.It’s about intentions and realism.
    Yes,in my view.
    The state of mind in USA is today pretty similar to that at the second part of 30s in Germany . Let’s go and export freedom and democracy. Germans done that to Poland , Czech Republic, Austria, France,Netherlads,Norway.
    Their media were making sucher buzz those days just like you do right now. On the reason for fear. Oh, orange alert ! :-) Let’s go free Iran, let’s go free Pakistan, let’s go free Saudi arabia. Why not free Cuba ? HAve we in Cuba democracy ? Funny. But no. we have bloggers in Iran. Those young idealistic children who speak english and are from wealthier families and are by nature elitist and bla-bla idealist. It’s maind trap.
    You are speaking here about “cause”. You bet. That sounds scarry. I was living in former commmunist state ( now market economy). I know what I am talking.I have fear of the people who speak with such lingo- “cause”.
    It’s plainly: indoctrination. It’s the power of those who rule this days in America and make those ideas ( imperalistic view mixed with wild capitalism ) attractive.
    And this protest really doesn’t matter. No. Yes, I would like to see in the years to come democracy in Iran for the benefit of people but it won’t come trough blogospere.
    It will be struggle for years and I hope that not so many Iranians would die in this idealistic effort. The change will come by nature. We don’t need bloood on the streets right know. In politics does matter realism and pragmatism.
    So, please stop pumping this issue for those politicaly illiterate and do what you do the best. I think this silly iranian preaching isn’t.
    In my view. No ofence please.

  • webgard

    I have to agree with Zec. And I do agree that what you put down here is not really going to change what does or does not happen in Iran.
    However, you do have influence on some of the Iranian blogs and you have created a “buzz” in the Iranian blogosphere, which I am a part of.
    There is something wrong with this picture. This picture you’ve depicted that: “we are sitting in a democracy. You are in a theocracy. Democracy is better than theocracy. Get out on july 9th and bring down the government and establish democracy. we support you.” when you yourself know full well that America’s democracy didn’t come in a day or a month or a decade even. There were movements, there were drawbacks, voices, figures, leaders, etc. The digital age isn’t going to change anything in Iran. The blogosphere isn’t going to super-speed things up.

  • Dear Jeff-I agree with your point that July 9th matters. But I am not sure about the American politicians’ intentions due to the history of Iran and middle east; I can remind you the Anglo-American 1953 coup against Dr Mosaddegh who trusted American politicians at that time. I wonder how their support for democracy in Iran would be materialised;e.g. are they going to give money and back up to monarchists due to their traditional relationship? Or are they going to have a millitary intervention something like Iraq?
    I think those sort of support would be disastrous; and it is crystal clear for me!

  • I agree with you zec,we don’t need bloody actions .
    Yes the problem is about idealists and emotional people.this kind of words and demonstrations don’t lead us to the democrasy…

  • People thought that June 4 was also a start of something new.
    14 years later, not much has changed in China.

  • Yes, July 9th matters. It matters so much that the regime in Iran has resorted to information warfare to shut down the flow of news into and out of the country.
    The blogosphere may not be able to pull the trigger, or push a mullah over a balconey rail, but we can do what we do – watch, report, and hope.
    Anybody seen anything from any Iranian bloggers since before sundown on the 9th? Aside from Tehran Online, mentioning explosions? The English language ones are silent. Farsi speakers, what’s the story? Any stories/news from Isfahan? How about Qom? This was planned for more than just downtown Tehran – a bit much for one group to cave (if that is what happened) at the 11th hour and bring the whole thing to a halt.
    Anyone? Bueller?

  • kid charlemagne

    I’m amazed to see people agreeing with “Zec” after he wrote this asinine paragraph:
    The state of mind in USA is today pretty similar to that at the second part of 30s in Germany . Let’s go and export freedom and democracy. Germans done that to Poland , Czech Republic, Austria, France,Netherlads,Norway.
    This comparison is absolutely stupid and offensive.

  • kid charlemagne

    Oops, I should have put quotes around the Zec paragraph.

  • webgard,
    i think it would be politically unsophisticated to actually believe that the iranian political landscape would suddenly be transformed on july 9th. you are right to claim that all functioning democracies took decades to build.
    but, in my humble opinion, building a solid democratic movement requires two things:
    1)consistent everyday activities–writing, informing, speaking, building links, etc…
    2)special events and commemorations that can involve all citizens and which can be a show of force. that is, after all, what all organized protests are about, right?
    i chose to devote july 9th to writing exclusively about the student movement in iran. i had no illusions about the day. i knew that iran on july 10th would not look radically different than july 8th. but, alongside everyday activities, i felt it important to focus our collective energies on a particular task on a particular day. these events, put together, will eventually lead to substantial change.

  • finnesota

    I think part of the problem is that many bloggers (particularly those in the U.S.) have such an inflated sense of themselves and of blogging that they tend to go a bit overboard with believing just how much the “blogosphere” can change the world. Yes, it’s great that people outside of Iran can read the experiences of those on the inside, but I’m not convinced that a revolution can sprout up from this.
    It still seems like many of the “big-time bloggers” seem most invested in self-promotion and in taking credit for striking up a cause than in anything else. Until motivations change I’m afraid there’ll continue to be a lot more talk than action.

  • I think you are absolutely spot-on Finnesota.
    Jeff has done a great job in building links with Iranian bloggers which is a very useful, practical and realistic thing to do.
    Sadly some of the big-league bloggers seem more interested in hyping themselves and using the Iranian struggle to help them score points against their opponents.

  • Soren Ryherd

    Good grief. Why is it that everyone takes such an extreme position? I don’t believe Jeff or any other blogger, American or Iranian, expects that one person can single-handledly write a post so compelling that it brings down the Iranian theocracy.
    And I doubt that even had the mullahs not proactively imprisoned 4000 potential protestors prior to July 9th that in one day the Iranian gov’t would have been toppled. Did anyone believe this would happen? No, of course not.
    But look at what has happened: Bridges have been built between Iranian and American bloggers, and bloggers are, for better or worse, opinion makers. I think that Jeff and Hoder and others have created a discussion that is resulting in a shift of perception among Americans. How many conservative bloggers knew anything about Iran’s nascent democratic movement four months ago? How many do now? How does that influence their writing and opinions? In this way a few people can make a difference. And they have.
    Jeff has actively raised public perceptions on the reality of life and politics in Iran. I for one feel better informed, and consequently more optimistic for the future of Iran-American relations, regardless of what happens with the Iranian government.
    I applaud Jeff’s efforts. To think that his support of Iranian bloggers is either self-serving promotion or a fascistic throat-ramming of pro-american ideology is ridiculous.

  • Wow! This is an unreal. This is so distressing I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe how many people have responded to this with hate, ad hominem, personal attacks, fanatical politics etc. Is this really what its come to? There are too many individual posts to respond to them all, and its all just too depressing anyway, but I hope that these comments aren’t representative of . . . anything really. I’m going to go stick my head in the sand somewhere.

  • Kid Charlemagne: Exactly!
    This is now two posts by Iranian bloggers in one week that show absolutely no judgment about the gravity of what happened in Nazi Germany. For Zec to draw a comparison between Nazi imperialism and genocide and efforts to support democracy by America is, well, beyond offensive and beyond stupid. It’s hateful. And it’s just plain braindead.

  • Sina

    your comment is offensive and also idiotic.
    i remember speech of a mullah awhile ago who said in TV “American must know these punks who send messages to you through internet arent majority of iranian people” now you say these punks are only “idealistic *childern* of wealthier families” (I’m not sure if you are that mullah but I’m sure you have many things in common)
    and also due to 3 milion active internet user and many more inactive, I must tell you that there isnt so many rich people here, also to have a computer and access internet you need only 200$ that isnt very much. most of internet user in iran looking for sites to earn some money that’s another reason that they arent from wealthier families, by the way if they had money they’ll go for other enjoyment instead of internet.

  • Zec

    Sorry for some of you. I didn’t meant to sound ofensive but instead realistic. And I have good sense of self respect to not think of myself as idiot.
    Thanks for that.
    Now, Webgard is part of that iranian blog community and do you heard what he sad commenting this article: “America’s democracy didn’t come in a day or a month or a decade even. There were movements, there were drawbacks, voices, figures, leaders, etc ”
    Exactly. Bloggers are building bridges between iranian and american bloggers. It’s small step and useful but not alone. Soren said that. Can you hear it ? American bloggers and iranian bloggers+ bridges? Are they more important then let’s say British, or let’s say those bloggers from Austria or Germany ? Well what if they will make connection with those iranians ? No, no , no. “We have monopol to deal with those bloggers”
    “We even mobilise are cable companies, former Shah of Iran drinks coctails at American Enterprise Institute ” I hear american bloggers screaming. “We have the best and the brightest democracy in the world so we are up to deal all those mess all around world and export democracy.” Nice. Democracy Transportation inc. We are buiding bridges goes mantra. Why not building bridges with chinese diaspora, cuban, pakistani, saudi, russia diaspora ? Nobody seems to answer that question here on this comments. Is it possibble that blogosphere now enters dangerous precedent which “old media ” broke long time ago. Namely: HIPOCRISY. What about credibility ?
    Old that that is build very hard ?
    If some of you think that I made wrong comparison by Nazi Germany and USA today… Then please come here in Europe and hear what are saying ordinary citizen . This is not Anti-americanism. This is Anti-bushism. We think America is great nation with wonderfoul people but here even small kid with thinks about Bush as Hitler. It’s about Bush adminstration not about US people. I think it is not appropriet comparing Bush and Hitler. No. Bush didn’t comite genocide. True. But if you read my comment above more closely I was comparing today’s USA with Germany in late 30s. You get it ? Genocide happend in 40s. So, beware ! USA can’t commite genocide in today’s comparison but can cause “small genocide ” . If at the Baghdad marketplace drops smart bomb and kill 30-40 people. No big deal. It is ” collateral damage “. Nevermind. I did compare state of mind ( especially media landscape in America to that in Germany media- you should read Correspondends diary to get more isight )
    I have good intentions explaing some feelings we have from our european perspective and if you dont get it ? Sad.
    I have good intentions commenting here but some folks here called me “Idiot ” ” Ofensive ” and so on. “Mullah ” was funny. :-))
    That examples are not speaking about me but about them. And let’s go back to iranians. Those are at least who will suffer most. Not those of you “we-support-you”. So, which solution you have for Iran’s future. Probably two options : 1. you iranians get the job, mullahs are death, we are coming with our good friend Shah, and we are coming to build that pipeline from Caspian See. 2. option- we will kick your ass cause iranian regime has nuclear weapons ( they have indeed, not like Iraq ) We will lose some 140- 400 lifes but we will come at least we think that. No big deal. We have enough those poor black people for unfriendly or friendly fire.
    There’s no option from your perspective. How about diplomacy? How about United Nations ? How about dialog ? How about support to those brave Iranian reformist ( not only students ), but Khatami. This are building block that follow European Union countries. This is sound policies with patient and realistic approach. Not gung-ho speak that comes from US against wounded fox ( mullahs, that should be indeed jailed in my view ) . And think about young Iranian lifes?They are very worth. Keep this in mind.
    As I said, my intentions are good. No ofence please. Just my opinion.
    Man, I really like to write. Am I blogger or not ? :-))

  • Wat if we dun want US support us??
    Wat if we want to act ourselves?!?
    Wat if we want to define our democracy ourselves?
    Wat if we want to define the meaning of freedom ourselves??
    Wat if we want to be ourselves and independent from every other country in the world??
    why u always want to say you are the world’s god father?!?!?
    Wat if….
    wat if…
    wat if….

  • Kaviar

    Zec, you have some true points in his message, but you cannot totally compare Iran to eastern europe where you come from. I study in the UK and have met very many mature students from former eastern block countries. You people have had SUCH a different world/life comparing to Iranians. There is not enough space here to point out the differences between Iran and former eastern block countries, but what I want to say is that we’re on a very different route towards democracy than you (are you living in democracy now?).
    Moreover, the voices you hear on blogsphere are not from a bunch of “idealistic children who speak english and are from wealthier families”. Iran is not Poland under communism where there was lack of food for most ordinary people (sorry no offense). As you probably don’t know, 75% of the Iranian population is under 30 years old, and most of the population (70+ percent) have had some kind of basic education (a cool policy of the rulling system, which is now ironically working against the system). The population in general is very much aware of politics, public general knowledge is high and people who have enough money are able to travel around the world. Many of the people (including myself) who are pushing for democracy and talking about it everywhere (including blogsphere) are the generation who grew up under the post-revolution system. These are exactly the influential people of their generation who will own the country in a couple of years and will decide and create its future.

  • Kaviar

    Kalantar jan, fortunately or unfortunately the world is round and we’re living with others. Also, fortunately or unfortunately we’re living on zillions of dollars worth of energy and resources, so we will not be ignored! If we’re smart enough, we will find a way to co-exist with other nations and also control our wealth to our best interest.

  • Chris J.

    Good grief, I can’t believe the hatred and paranoia I’m reading. So many points, will just try a few:
    1. The US has, at least, 2 very large communites of Iranians. *They* would like the US to help, somehow. I happen to know 2 of them. They are very worried about their relatives and they would like US intervention, should it be needed, to save their families. If I were them, I would too.
    However, as far as I know, the US isn’t planning a military intervention. These 2 Iranians I know are rather upset about the US *not* intervening.
    2. I don’t consider the ‘blogging community’ to be exclusively American. There are many people in other countries who are concerned about Iran and wondering how best to encourage the Iranians. Nobody wants bloodshed.
    3. *NOTHING* is stopping the UN, EU, or any other nation from getting involved. If you are worried the US will be like ‘cowboys’ and cause ‘blood to run in the streets’ … step up to the plate and do something. Nobody will stop you.
    Personally, I don’t think military intervention is wise, at this time. I haven’t read of many who do. Concern and encouragement for the Iranians, who may be suffering right now, is something that can be done via the web.
    I’d like to know why all the ‘human rights activists’, who marched throughout Europe and the US are silent? I hope those who are so critical of what bloggers have tried to do, are equally critical about the silence from the ‘activists’.
    This is *real* oppression. The Iranians want their human rights. Where are the marches and demonstrations?
    Do Iranian human rights mean nothing?
    I didn’t realize mind reading came so easily to some people. Congrats. on being able to know ‘all about the US state of mind’ when you don’t even live here. Keep listening to the anti-US crap you’re being fed. Enjoy your anti-US delusions.
    To save you all the trouble: The US is the worst nation on the face of the Earth. No other nation has committed the crimes we have. We just want to take over the world and rule it. We are also stupid,ignorant cowboys.
    We aren’t fit to understand the great thoughts and wisdom of our ‘betters’. Keep teaching us, oh wise ones. Perhaps someday we’ll understand. But, probably not. After all, we’re just stupid Americans. (Feel better?)

  • Soren Ryherd

    Interesting comment on how because American bloggers show an interest in democracy in Iran, that somehow that means we are saying that we are:
    1) the only ones with an opinion of value on the topic
    2) interested in Iran to the exclusion of all other non-democratic nations
    3) forcing a viewpoint where democracy means pro-American foreign policy
    I’m not sure how Zec or anyone reached these conclusions but they seem to reflect more of an existing frame of mind on America as an entity rather than American bloggers as individuals.
    Strange, and not a little scary.
    You know, here’s what I want, and I think what a lot of Americans want. I do want every nation to be a democratic nation, founded on a constitution that ensures personal liberty to the exclusion of the wishes of the majority. I want this because I don’t see any examples of other forms of government that allow for the incredible levels of personal freedom and individual liberties found in westeren democracies. And not just the US, but essentially all western style democracies.
    Now, tell me why that’s a bad thing?

  • Tadeusz

    Zec, a point if I may.
    You belong to a group (a nation-state), and are at least sympathetic to another larger club of these groups (the EU), and yet you find yourself in a world where even the largest groups can not truly affect the world decisively because of the Big Guy across the ocean whose strength, militarily, politically, and economically outweighs your representatives by a large, and ever-increasing margin. And you just found out that the largest group of them all (the UN) is toothless.
    I’d find that an uncomfortable situation to be in.
    Being forced to trust someone you really don’t trust, and really, really, really (trust me on this) understand is unpleasant. But your response causes much of the current problem. You react with paranoia and suspicion, and demands that we slow down to your pace, and do it your way. Instead of trying to understand America you make silly charges, and cling to dumb ideas (those people who say “Bush=Hitler” deserve to be laughed off the stage).
    America comes to you with a problem, and politely requests help. You respond with insults. We respond with more insults and still push for help. You deny us help and ladle on the insults.
    We go solve the problem on our own, and decide the Europeans are irresponsible. Your own awareness of your weakness increases a mostly unjustified suspicion of our motives to drive you to oppose our plans, and try to get us to substitute your plans so you can be in the driver’s seat.
    But you are not in the driver’s seat. We’d accept advice and help from people with sound judgement who truly support us(Bush went out of the way to go along with one of Blair’s ideas even though Bush did not likely support it, but then Blair is a friend), but not from people whose only goal is to wrestle the steering wheel out of our hands. So, in the end, when you are dumped on the side of the road, and we drive off without you, remember, we tried to include you.
    I hope this explains much of the social dynamics involved.