In the end, when the green ribbons, rocks, shell casings and human bodies are swept away and the re-accredited foreign journalists are left to sift through what little remains of the massive crime scene that was Tehran, they will decide that the government won by decision. But at what cost? some of them may ask.
June 20, 2009 will practically go down in Iranian history as significantly as July 4th, 1776 to those of us here who have been observing this from 6 or 7 thousand miles away from the comfort and safety of our living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, dens and work places. It will not go down in Iranian history as the day Democracy was taken back but it will at least be renowned as the day the people demanded it back without holding their hats. And that's where democracy starts.
And as with another unforgettable day, this one 9/11/01, 6/20/09 will be noted for one other thing: The day everything changed.
With the outpouring of outrage in the streets of Tehran and the outpouring of support from virtually the entire world community, with unarmed students, men and women alike, taking on the Revolutionary Guard, the Army and the dreaded Basiji, it's impossible for things to begin on June 21 with business as usual. It's inconceivable that even the infamously inflexible Supreme Ruling Council that makes a mockery of Iran's so-called democracy won't feel compelled to make some changes and concessions.
I've been live-blogging the riots for 15 hours straight and still do not feel as if I have done enough. With the level of commitment to the Iranian people that many of us have shown today, it will be interesting how many of us will continue at this same level of commitment tomorrow and the next. After all, we aren't really Iranians, even though we may have pretended to be so today. We are Americans, with our own democracy to safeguard, our own economy to worry about.
Yet before we turn our attention back to our back yards, let it not be forgotten what these people east of Iraq had to endure. The Tehran Massacre today in which at least 19 people were reported to have lost their lives in the name of freedom and democracy suffered a crueler and harsher fate than the five who were killed in the so-called Boston Massacre. The Iranians don't suffer an occupying force in a colonial outpost as we did over two centuries ago but their own oppressive government. The technology to kill is far more sophisticated than breach-loaded rifles and grape shot.
Try as we might to identify and to place ourselves in the middle of the action, only those who were there today know of what we easily speak. And to just as easily turn our backs on these people when the blood is hosed off the streets of Tehran is to turn our backs on our own legacy left to us by those who also gave their lives in the dogged pursuit of the Great Experiment that was our nation.
We ought to take a lesson from the Iranians who were beaten, shot and burned with acid as to what the responsibility of a free people are when they see that their democracy is being taken right out from under their noses and then to be told to go home, there's nothing to see here, go home or you will be killed.
That's not democracy any more than purple fingers or green ribbons: That's just a dream wrapped up in the barbed wire of a theocracy, something under which we've been chafing for at least 8 or 9 years. Take a lesson from these people and try to recall what you, hopefully, learned on June 20, 2009, the day we all became Iranian and were reminded by these distant people of the true meaning and price of democracy.