Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
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A mirror and a megaphone

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A student attends a protest inside Tehran University in Iran while a smoke grenade is thrown by Iranian police.

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For the past week or so, popular demonstrations have been taking place all over Iran, and not just in Tehran, the capital.

Iran is a basket case. Most of its people live in poverty, when they need not do so. Indeed the current living circumstances of most of the 80 million Iranian citizens are downright disgraceful.

And when President Hassan Rouhani leaked next year’s budget, it became clear that a large proportion of the country’s resources are being directed to nongovernmental religious and security bodies in Iranian society.

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The people are rising up, and rightly so. It is a spontaneous uprising that crosses geographic, sociological, and even religious lines.

The Iranian government has now mounted counter-demonstrations in the streets of some of these cities, and more than 20 people, that we know of, have died at the hands of government security forces.

Hundreds more have been arrested.

But the rebels do not seem to be afraid.

The United States government has made clear that this nation supports the aspirations of the Iranian people to be free. The President has said “we are watching.”

It is important that this mean something — that lists of those in prison are made and publicized, that diplomatic talks start with human rights, and that electronic barriers be broken down by our spies and spy technology. The world cannot watch if it cannot see. It cannot keep vigil if it cannot focus attention and hold it.

We need to keep the heat on. 

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That might be up to U.S. diplomats, especially Nikki Haley, our nation’s representative to the United Nations. She is, currently, the most blunt and eloquent spokesman for American values in federal office.

There is a precedent for how we should treat this revolution. When Eastern Europe was struggling for freedom, the United States did not stand by indifferently. We were a mirror and a megaphone. We came to the aid of Solidarity as best we could. Solidarity did the work, but we in the U.S. did not stand by. 

So it should be with Iran. We must be a mirror and a megaphone for freedom. The United States must lend more than its voice, it should lend its attention and its practical assistance.

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