Like so many on Twitter (and elsewhere), I’ve been following whatever developments I can about the Iran elections. I share the concerns of the world about the obvious sham of an election and I’m waiting, nervously, to see Iran erupt into full-blown civil war.
In the last couple of days, Twitter users have started adding a green overlay to their avatars, indicating support for Mousavi. I’ll not do that, nor do I support that particular movement. I have, however changed my “location” field in Twitter to read “TEHRAN.” I’ll explain why.
Let’s face facts here: Because of the way news is spread from Iran to the US, it’s nearly impossible for us to support one leader over another in that country. And the fact that Mousavi most likely won that election doesn’t make him the best guy for the job. Granted, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is no good guy, and clearly any election fraud in Iran will most likely be traced back to him. Mir-Hossein Mousavi, for the majority of Twitterers especially, is not a known quantity. Sure, we have a record to trace from his time served as Prime Minister, and we have some of his lofty election goals, such as allowing private ownership of television stations, adding more transparency to government and transferring control of the police force to the President, to look at, but are we really informed enough to make a decision, here, a half-world away, on who should lead Iran?
As an American, I was increasingly disturbed by European support of Barack Obama in our last election. The disturbance wasn’t based on who I supported in the election, but on the undue pressure it put on American voters to please the international community — as if we should choose the president that would best serve Europe instead of the president that would best serve the US. Now, the same people who said throughout the Bush presidency that the US should not meddle in the affairs of sovereign nations are, through this passive support campaign, meddling in the election (corrupt as it may be) of a sovereign nation.
I have decided, however, to change my location to TEHRAN on my Twitter profile, as a show of support for the bloggers and Twitterers in Iran who are believed to be in extreme danger for making their voices heard. Freedom of thought and speech are extraordinarily important to me, and a people banned from thinking for itself is a danger to us all. Dissident voices should never be silenced — especially through violence.
It is believed that Iranian police are hunting down or at least identifying dissident voices in Iran in part by looking at their location status in Twitter. This may not be true. If it is, and I can be just one more record for them to sift through, maybe provide five more minutes of safety for someone writing what they believe in their hearts, then that one tiny step is well worth it.
As a former journalist and columnist, I know there are very real dangers for anyone who speaks truth to power. In my own career I was harrassed, threatened with lawsuits and bodily harm. But fortunately I was never attacked or silenced. There were plenty of people in positions of authority who didn’t respect my freedom to opine, but they hadn’t the authority to stop me from saying what I believed in.
I am a regular critic of today’s news media. Increasingly, that media includes bloggers and regular folks as well. I’m increasingly more interested in the media’s failures than in its successes, and I’m more inclined to support the private blogger than the bloated corporate megalopolies running America’s news. And now, I will support every small voice screaming to be heard, no matter who they support.