13 June 2009

Iran: Righteous Indignation or Sore Loserism

Raw footage from today in the Iranian capital. These are supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leading opposition candidate in yesterday's presidential election. They are outraged that President Ahmadinejad has won what appears to be a landslide victory despite reports before the vote that the race had been neck-and-neck. Encouraged to believe that power was within their reach, they now assume the fix was in.

American observers will likely jump to the same conclusion, even though it's unclear whether there was any sound scientific basis for believing that the race was as close as the global media claimed. All we know for certain is that Mousavi has a large and loud following in the big cities. But in the United States you can have a huge march for some cause in New York City and that wouldn't mean that the country as a whole feels the same way.

I'm trying to be neither naive nor contrarian on this subject. An Iranian election can be stolen just like any country's. I just don't want everyone jumping to that conclusion just because they dislike the idea of the Islamic Republic or hate Ahmadinejad's guts -- no matter how he's earned it. Let's hear from independent observers if any were in the country, or from non-partisan Iranians. Let's not hear from Americans who think they know what's happened because they "know" that Iran is a tyranny.

On the other hand, I suppose this is how people should behave if they think their election was stolen. But if Americans had done anything like this back in 2000, you know how other Americans would have reacted. Our final judgment on these Iranians must depend on whether their anger has any basis in facts. This remains to be seen.

No comments: