Wednesday, June 18, 2003
previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (1)
The blogosphere takes on the mullahs
Here is Andrew Sullivan's suggestion from earlier this week:
Glenn Reynolds thinks this is "a great idea" and provides lots of relevant links.
I plan to be on board as well. [Why don't you launch a campaign to mock Bill O'Reilly's half-assed comments about the Internet instead?--ed. Too late. Besides, I'm sure O'Reilly was using his whole ass when he penned that prose. Nice reference to The Simpsons!--ed.] However, I have a few conditions:
1) Everyone recognize the limitations of this enterprise: A great deal has been written and posted about how Iranians hunger for a more liberal democracy, and how the blogosphere is playing a vital role in communicating that hunger.
However, this conveniently ignores the fact that the Iranian government is an altogether different beast than either Trent Lott or the New York Times. They play for keeps, and have been unafraid in the past to use paramilitary violence to put down student dissent. Here are the latest reports on Iran from Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. They don't make for pleasant reading. A lot of web postings will be unlikely to diminish the mullahs' ardor for repression.
I've argued that the blogosphere's power has been inflated as of late, and I fear this will prove my point. I really hope I'm wrong, though.
2) Don't lobby for Western governments to take direct action against Iran. Official action by western governments could backfire, as Robert Lane Greene observes:
Obviously, the nuclear question is a matter for official action, and rhetorical support for the protestors is appropriate. Further sanctions, however, are unlikely to accomplish anything.
[Why, then, did you agitate for economic pressure on Burma? Isn't this the same thing?--ed. No, it's not. In the case of Burma, the demand is extremely specific -- a release of one activist and a return to the status quo of a few months ago. In Iran, the demand is simultaneously more amorphous and more ambiguous.]
3) Remember that the goal is to act as a megaphone for the Iranians themselves. While official action might be counterproductive, direct pressure from global civil society -- which is what Sullivan wants the blogosphere to be on July 9th -- can, at the very least, offer a show of support to Iranians that their voice is being heard. To that end, please click over to Jeff Jarvis' wonderful collection of Iranian bloggers.
4) Quincy Jones is not the producer. For those of you too young to understand that reference, click here.posted by Dan on 06.18.03 at 11:24 AM