At last weekend’s inaugural Tea Party Convention, there was much bloviating about “oppressed” Americans “suffering” under the Obama Administration’s “tyranny.” Judge Roy More, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, even delivered a rousing sermon comparing our President to King George III, the British ruler overthrown in the American Revolution.
Nothing better illustrates the utter absurdity of these delusions than contrasting the Tea Party with an actual, grassroots, democratic movement created to confront real, rather than imagined, tyranny.
Last June, protesters took to Tehran’s streets, showing their support for Mir Hussein Moussavi, an opposition candidate in Iran’s disputed presidential election. Allegedly, forces loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad engaged in widespread fraud at the polls, costing Moussavi his shot at the presidency.
Violent clashes ensued between demonstrators and the regime-sponsored Basij militia. Eventually, one of the Basiji opened fire on the crowd, killing an unarmed, 26 year-old woman named Neda Agha-Soltan. Instead of dispersing the masses, however, Agha-Soltan’s brutal killing galvanized them. Suddenly, the “Green Movement” was born.
More demonstrations followed, with the most recent spate of violence occurring late last year, during Shi’a Islam’s Ashura holiday. These clashes cost at least eight Iranians their lives, including Moussavi’s nephew, who was shot to death by security forces.
Today marks the 31st anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Tensions are running high in Tehran and the government’s well-coordinated clampdown is already underway. Over the last few days, security officials have rounded up dozens of journalists, photographers and students as well as women’s and children’s rights advocates.
Moussavi himself compared this suppression to the worst abuses committed under the hated Shah, who was deposed by the 1979 revolution: “Stifling the media, filling the prisons, and brutally killing people who peacefully demand their rights in the streets indicate the roots of tyranny and dictatorship remain from the monarchist era.”
Despite these draconian measures, the Green Movement’s defiant legions remain undaunted. Daily Beast contributor Jason Shams defines the group’s motto as, “Each Iranian is a media outlet.” And they practice what they preach.
As Shams observes, “the computer students are all over the place with their backpacks filled with flash drives and proxy programs, always a step ahead of the bearded dinosaurs and their dying ideologies.”
Moreover, while Americans generally use Facebook and Twitter to pour over the excruciating minutae of modern life, the Greens employ these social networking websites to disseminate information, plan operations and mobilize their organization.
Armed with camera phones, laptops and an iron will, these courageous individuals communicate their message to the world even without the journalists imprisoned by Ahmadinejad’s repressive regime.
Censorship, harassment, intimidation, coercion, mass arrests, public beatings and de-facto executions by government-sponsored death squads. These are the harsh realities of living under tyranny. If the Tea Party movement’s petulant populists want to witness its horrors first-hand, I implore them to purchase a one-way ticket to Tehran. I suspect they’ll be in for a rude awakening.