Happy Sarah Palin's Birthday
About the only good thing that could be said about the fresh wave of protests going on in Iran right now is it promises to push Sarah Palin and her 46th birthday off the front pages of the mainstream media and blogosphere.
It also happens to be the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that enthroned a dictator who would justifiably become more reviled than Kadaffi, Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein combined.
IranNewsNow, generally the most reliable source for news on Iran's streets, has been making Twitter dispatches for as long as the internet is still up. But who knows how long it'll be before that, too, slows to a trickle. The oppressive dictatorship of Iran, as always during civil unrest, is threatening to impose a clampdown on the internet, meaning that Iranian protesters who have come to depend upon the far more secure Gmail to email their own citizen dispatches may also be silenced.
But as night begins to fall on the streets of Tehran, we're already hearing the usual reports of protesters being being burned on the face, beaten, arrested, cattle-prodded and even shot and killed by pro-government basij thugs. And, believe it or not, the basiji have been reported by Twitter dispatches as firing paintball bullets at protesters. This isn't as comical as it may sound: The paint splatters are used to identify protesters later on when they go back to mop up.
As a sign that perhaps the protests and destruction that began in mid June last year, the basiji has been seen doubling up on motorcycles (on account of the countless ones that had been burned last year), indicating the Iranian government may be going broke fighting the cycle (no pun intended) of protests.
But that isn't the only change that we've seen since last year:
As this short but important video shows, earlier today protesters ripped down a poster of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and stamped on it (a very, very grave and deep insult, remember, in Islamic culture). Even last June, at the height of the reformist protests, such an act of defiance and disrespect would have been absolutely unthinkable. Doing so now seems to be a reliable barometer of just how fed up the Iranian people are with this dictatorship that has systematically stripped them of their basic, inalienable rights, rights supposedly guaranteed under the Iranian constitution. For once, political freedom and the hunger for it, seems to be trumping religion in this Muslim nation and we're witnessing an ever-widening separation of church and state.
In short, it seems the people of Iran are getting hungrier and hungrier for actual regime change and that they're no longer interested in merely having their voices heard during the so-called democratic elections. It seems as if momentum is building for an actual overthrow of the current oppressive government that has betrayed itself as being very ready, willing and able to murder its own citizens in the name of holding on to its, until now, unchallenged power.
As always, Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish is working in shifts around the clock covering the protests.