I am listening to the reports of street fighting and demonstrations in Iran on the BBC World Service, and my thoughts are of our former First Lady, Abigail Adams. She was wife of the second President of the United States, and the mother of our sixth President. Along with her nine year old son John Quincy, she was an eyewitness to the battle of Battle of Bunker Hill. This was the start of the American Revolution, and she wrote to her husband “The decisive day has come.”
Let us hope Iran’s decisive day has come, and that this is the start of a revolution to bring democracy, the rule of law and human rights to the oppressed and long suffering people of the Islamic Republic. Iran is a military dictatorship with periodic rigged elections providing a thin veneer of legitimacy.
Democracy protestors were not successful in Tiananmen Square, Zimbabwe or Burma, but it is difficult to imagine how Tehran will go back to the status quo. It is thrilling to hear over 3,000 brave Persian patriots chanting “Death to Dictatorship” and “Death to Khamenei!” as they were being pelted with tear gas and water cannons. Helicopters have been pouring boiling water on them. Several European embassies are reporting today that burning liquid is being sprayed on people from helicopters. It is a water soluble skin irritant.
More seriously, many protestors are being beaten with batons and metal pipes by the Basijis security forces who are directed by the powerful Revolutionary Guard. At least seven of the demonstrators have been killed. The Basijis have blocked off Tehran’s Revolution Square from the protestors and they are responsible for stabbing 12 students at Tehran University. Also today, opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi said he is ready for martyrdom.
The government of the Islamic Republic is intent on building nuclear weapons, they deny the Holocaust occurred, they have pledged to wipe Israel off the map and they are now the main funding source for terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Our nation should not be neutral in this battle. The protesters should know that America supports them. Helping other nations achieve freedom is a difficult and thankless enterprise, as we learned in Iraq, but it is the right course. In his memoirs, “Answer to History”, the late Shah of Iran explained how the Carter Administration abandoned the Pahlavi dynasty. We should not do this to the reform movement. They should know that we care and we believe their cause is just. For far too many days our State Department has refused to condemn the Iranian government’s crackdown on the protesters, or even acknowledge that electoral fraud has taken place.
At the time of our revolution Sam Adams called for “brushfires of freedom.” After 30 years in the darkness they are now burning brightly in Iran.