Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More on Iran

I've been following the situation in Iran quite closely (as seems to be everyone with a TV / internet connection). The Iran situation is getting coverage all around the world. It is creditable that the plight of a suppressed people is getting such media traction.

There are several articles which argue that the results of the elections (the current bones of contention, if you will) are rigged. There's this article (with the feel of a Journal paper) by people who seem to be academicians at a British University. Then there's the amusing analysis written in a recent edition of the Washington Post which argues that the numbers bear the signature of a rigged election. And then there's this analysis in the New Scientist which uses that old statistical treasure, Binford's Law to argue that the results were generated by a computer.

And for a historical perspective, Alternet has a brutally passionate piece on why claims, not unlike those purveyed by the Mullahs in Iran, that America is the Great Satan - do have a strong basis.

Clearly, I do not have any business sounding off on Iran. I am not an Iranian citizen. I am an Indian - and India's political system at least does not have the kind of repression that Iran bears. But I have always sounded off on things that are none of my business. So, of course, I will open by mouth here are talk about what I think. (The entire US of A is doing this - so why should I be left out?).

Firstly, why are the Iranian protests getting so much airtime? Does the fact that American drones are killing more civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan per day count for nothing? Why are we not looking at the plight of the Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans here? This is WRONG.

A popular (albeit somewhat sexist and inappropriate) analysis seems to be doing the rounds on Facebook. Apparently the plight of the Iranian people is getting so much airtime because they're using many pretty women as protesters. This analysis might have an iota of truth in it. The fact is that the wronged people here are MIDDLE CLASS. Iran is a fairly well-to-do nation - with a per capita income 4-5 times that of India - and 30% of the US.

The Iranians (who are protesting) are cellphone toting, twitter and Facebook people. Americans (and the rest of the developed word) can therefore identify themselves with the Iranian cause. An Afghan shepherd who has never heard of twitter – they can’t identify with. His life is no value - as has been proven by zero-outrage-inducing drone attacks in Pakistan.

So here’s a lesson for you. If you are an oppressed community – and want the rest of the developed world on your side – somehow, stop being poor. Become middle class. Beg, borrow, steal! And America (and the rest of the world) will be a your champion. If you’re still poor on the other hand, and do not have access to twitter, then watch out! A drone will drop a missile on you sometime.

Update: Time's Joe Klien has a very insightful piece on the Iranian situation. I quote

Iran's government is a conservative, defensive, rational military dictatorship that manages to subdue its working-class majority softly, by distributing oil revenues downward. (On June 23, Ahmadinejad announced that doctors' salaries would be doubled, for example.)

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