Iranians are all Americans now. They are locked in a desperate struggle to reclaim their society from a tyrannical regime, and the regime knows it. The Liberal blogsphere is mostly silent on this (notable exception is NZBear - see link at left) but there is at least one beacon being shined on it from the Conservatives. The only Democrats who seem to care about bringing democracy to the middle east are the ones on television - Toby delivered an impassioned rant about supporting democracy to Arab nations last night on the West Wing that made me long to switch universes.

But back in the real world, Iranians are trying to do it on their own, and America hasn;t even commented let alone support them. As noted earlier, July 9th was the anniversary of the student riots and was expected to be a tumultous day. Not that you would notice reading the American media, but on the 9th, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tehran, defying government bans on gathering.

It wasn't just students and youngsters either:

Many of those taking part in the commemoration were not young students, but middle-aged and even elderly people, some of them wearing ties to symbolise their attachment to the era before the Islamic Revolution.

Michael Ledeen also notes that it wasn't just the public, but even members of the police, who were supportive:

The epicenter of the violence was Isfahan, where tens of thousands of the regime's young opponents fought with the militias who tried to quash demonstrations honoring the student uprising of 1999. At least half a dozen people were killed, scores hospitalized, and literally thousands were arrested in Isfahan and Tabriz, where similar insurrections took place. This was no peaceful demonstration; the people called for an end to the regime. And when the militias attacked, something quite new occurred: local police and even members of the Pasdaran, the "Guardians of the Revolution," shielded the opposition and even shot back at the militiamen. Nothing of the sort had happened in the 23 years of the Islamic Republic.
Thousands of students � they claim 100,000, which is probably too high a figure, but in any case a substantial number � marched on the radio and television headquarters, only to be attacked by helicopters and the usual thugs. But as these events unfolded, the streets of the city were filled with enormous throngs of people � organizers claim several million, but it is impossible to confirm these numbers � stood and sat immobile, simply looking at one another as if to give courage to one and all.

And leaders within Iran have spoken out in response - the next day, Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri, a senior religious Imam in Isfahan for 30 years and appointed by Ayatollah Khomeini himself, resigned his post in the theocracy. He bitterly condemned the hard-liners as "louts and fascists, who are a mixture of ignorance and madness, but whose umbilical cord is connected to the centre of power, and who are completely uncontrolled and beyond the law". In clearest possible terms he spoke of the threat to Iran and her people itself. 125 members of the Parliament supported him. The response from the government has been to silence the media and censor the full text of Taheri's statements:

Blank spaces. Reflect on what they mean. Some of what was censored reads as follows:

"I am embarrassed and ashamed," he wrote. "You cannot blame (the United States and the Shah) for the failures and corruption of our country. This has all resulted in our people turning away from Islam, rising unemployment, inflation, high cost of living, a "satanic gap" between the rich and the poor, an ailing economy, government corruption and addiction." He describes the regime as a vast mafia that responsible for "a failing foreign policy, corruption, bribery, brain drain, and the harassment and jailing of journalists and writers." These people, he said, "are riding on a stupid camel of power onto the field of politics." And worst of all, this mafia gang funds and supports vigilante forces who "continuously sharpen their dinosaur fangs of violence, with the hope of marrying their ugly, oppressive, fear-evoking bride of violence to religion."

As Ledeen points out, the Iranian oppressed masses yearn for help from Washington. When Bush denounced Iran as part of the axis of evil, Iranians cheered. But when the Bush Administration was asked about what the US response would be.. well, here's the transcript:

QUESTION: Scheduled for tomorrow, there are supposedly going to be major demonstrations in Tehran. Does the State Department have a message for the demonstrators, given US interest in this recently?


QUESTION: You have no message?

MR. BOUCHER: We don't.

QUESTION: This is supposed to be a really big demonstration and, you know, the "axis of evil" speech from the President, un-elected few � (laughter) �

QUESTION: Is that the official US line?

MR. BOUCHER: That's the official US line. No, the official US line is, you know, we don't comment when people demonstrate. I mean, when do we give messages to demonstrators?

QUESTION: Well, no.

MR. BOUCHER: I guess � no, I remember. Bob Strauss went out the night that the Soviet Union fell out, fell apart, and he gave the liberty message to demonstrators. That's about the only instance that I can remember that we've been out there. Certainly in places as far away as Tehran, the idea that we would have a message every time there's a demonstration is a little far-fetched.

QUESTION: All right. Well, it's just I asked it because in the context that the President did call them a member of the "axis of evil" and mentioned the un-elected few. There's been a lot of talk about supporting the people who want democracy there, and you know, they're having a big demonstration tomorrow, so I thought it would be a nice way to.

MR. BOUCHER: Iran has been more and more open as time goes on, and we'll watch that process from afar at this point.

(thanks to Michael Ledeen's article. I couldn't find it on the State Dept website. Deliberate?)

Looks like Iran is on its own.

UPDATE: comments by NZBear, Dave Trowbridge, John Wediner, Craig Schamp, and Hossein Derakshan. Instapundit gave Iran a big boost by noticing it, also.

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