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The Tragic Face of the Iranian Revolution
June 21, 2009 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Disturbing video of a young Iranian woman shot and dying in the streets of Tehran has surfaced on the internet (extremely graphic, NSFW, requires youtube login). Known only as "Neda" in the video, she has been identified by subsequent reports as a 16-year-old student named Neda Soltani. Supporters of the Iranian opposition are saying that she is the face of the struggle, and that this video galvanizes the opposition movement. As of this writing, the authenticity of the video has not been conclusively determined, and a small but vocal minority on the internet are decrying it as a fake.
posted by orville sash (233 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The last link doesn't say what you imply it says. For that matter I haven't so far seen anyone attempt to deny that the vid is real; it's a kind of thing that would be very hard to fake. Horror movies notwithstanding, getting the eyes to do what Neda's eyes do would be a major special effects coup.
posted by localroger at 6:27 PM on June 21, 2009


FFS. I am friends with the man who put it up on facebook. It's not fake.
posted by jaduncan at 6:28 PM on June 21, 2009 [12 favorites]


Damn, I didn't know she was only 16. It's so frustrating to not be able to materially help these people.

I'm conflicted about these all videos of deaths circulating. On the one hand, they (assuming they're all authentic) prove the magnitude of violence, but on the other, what does it do to the families? Can we trust people to treat these recordings with real respect?
posted by oinopaponton at 6:29 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry to be emotive, but it's not.
posted by jaduncan at 6:29 PM on June 21, 2009


Oh, small but vocal minority. Always naysaying and wet-blanketing.

That said, I saw a screenshot of the YouTube video and didn't have the stomach or the heart to visit it. Heartbreaking.
posted by mynameisluka at 6:29 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by blahblah at 6:32 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why does Wikipedia currently say she was 26 or 27, and not 16? Do we know which is correct?
posted by Sfving at 6:32 PM on June 21, 2009


The video shows the woman after she has been shot. With blood and stuff. Not while she's being shot.

In case you were wondering.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:33 PM on June 21, 2009


Perhaps I'm just a heartless bastard, but I don't see why this should be linked. We know it happens, is it necessary to have a video of it on Youtube? If so, is it necessary to have it linked on Metafilter?

If the answer to either is "yes," then we'd better get started uploading the videos of the deaths of the thousands (millions?) of people who have died in war and unrest in the last decade.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:34 PM on June 21, 2009


.

This video gave me the most amount of pause yet with these protests. It hit me, hard. Would I be as brave as she? Could I die for something like this?
posted by thatbrunette at 6:35 PM on June 21, 2009


Real-time Stream of Neda Images. (Almost certainly graphic). There are pictures here of some of the ways the opposition movement are adopting her as a symbol.

ex.
http://twitpic.com/8230i
http://twitpic.com/7wr3f
posted by BoatMeme at 6:36 PM on June 21, 2009


.
posted by wrapper at 6:38 PM on June 21, 2009


We know it happens, is it necessary to have a video of it on Youtube?

Sorry to trot out the endless Holocaust reference, but what if no documentation of the Holocaust had happened? Yes, people try to deny it even in the presence of brutal photos and films, but the photos and films have value in and of themselves as documentary evidence.

Whether or not you wish to view or consume such material is another matter entirely. But I think it's naive to say that "we know it happens" when denial and minimization attempts are underway even as we speak.

And no, we can't possibly post or link to every injustice in the world. How does that minimize this one, again?
posted by mynameisluka at 6:40 PM on June 21, 2009 [33 favorites]


localroger, it's some commenter in that last link who claims it's a fake. IANAD, but it's my understanding that a bullet wound to the chest, especially if it hits a major blood vessel like the aorta, can cause heavy bleeding from the nostrils, mouth and even eyes. You can't fake that precisely with a freaking baggie of red liquid.

I saw this yesterday. It's just horrible. The open question is can the army and the police keep attacking their own people like this? There is some evidence that they may not be able to:
There is a woman who is being beaten. She’s horrified and hysterical but not as much as the anti-riot police officer facing her. She shrieks, ‘Where can I go? You tell me go down the street and you beat me. Then you come up from the other side and beat me again. Where can I go?’ In sheer desperation, the officer hits his helmet several times hard with his baton. ‘Damn me! Damn me! What the hell do I know!’

I ask myself, ‘how much longer can these officers tolerate stress? How many among them would be willing to give their lives for somebody like Ahmadinejhad?’
The less optimistic Robert Farley on Tank Man and Tank Commander:
I feel that I can understand why Tank Man risked his life to stand in front of the tank column. I have less of a sense of why the tank commander decided to stop. For all I know, Tank Man may have been Tank Commander's brother. Tank Commander may have been afraid that his superiors would have been pissed if he ran over a guy while cameras might be watching. He may not have wanted innocent blood on his hands, or on the treads of his tank. He may have sympathized with the demonstrators; perhaps his father or mother had been a victim of the Cultural Revolution. Or perhaps he identified the Tiananmen demonstrators with the Cultural Revolution, and sympathized with them. I really have no idea.

The thing is, Tank Commander is far more dangerous than Tank Man. Tank Man can simply be shot; most seem to believe that Tank Man was later executed, far out of sight of the international media. The regime survives if Tank Man dies, even if the death of Tank Man isn't the optimal outcome. The regime dies, however, if Tank Commander refuses to run over Tank Man. Eisenstein used the Odessa Steps to demonstrate the corruption of the Czarist regime, but the regime didn't die until the soldiers refused to shoot the demonstrators. The successor regime didn't die until Boris Yeltsin climbed on a tank in August 1991. While there's some mystery as to the fate of Tank Man, I don't doubt that the CCP found Tank Commander and put a bullet in the back of his head at the first opportunity.
posted by maudlin at 6:41 PM on June 21, 2009 [20 favorites]


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posted by acro at 6:41 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps I'm just a heartless bastard, but I don't see why this should be linked. We know it happens, is it necessary to have a video of it on Youtube? If so, is it necessary to have it linked on Metafilter?

If the answer to either is "yes," then we'd better get started uploading the videos of the deaths of the thousands (millions?) of people who have died in war and unrest in the last decade.
Why does something have to be necessary to be done? Seems like an odd standard.
posted by delmoi at 6:42 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Perhaps I'm just a heartless bastard, but I don't see why this should be linked.
I've decided not to watch it, but I think it's significant and ought to be linked. "#Neda" is the sixth highest trending topic on Twitter. This video and the young woman in it have clearly come to symbolize the situation in Iran for a whole lot of people.
posted by craichead at 6:44 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fake? Christ on a bike.

For anyone wondering whether to view the video, it shows the last moments of a woman shot, and the transition between her moving and looking around on the ground to still and lifeless with blood pumping out of her mouth and nose.

.
posted by fire&wings at 6:46 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, Farley is slightly more optimistic than that: he links to a report from the Cyrus News Agency (as reported in a Washington Times blog):
According to the Cyrus News Agency, Tuesday morning 16 senior members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were arrested. "These commanders have been in contact with members of the Iranian army to join the people's movement," CNA reports. "Three of the commanders are veterans of Iran-Iraq war. They have been moved to an undisclosed location in East Tehran." This report has not been confirmed by other sources. If true, it shows that the regime is losing the loyalty of some members of its control appartus, which is necessary if the opposition has any chance of achieving fundamental change. Mass rallies can easily be broken up and revolutions crushed, as we saw at Tiananmen Square in 1989. But if members of the armed forces, police and especially Revolutionary Guards decided to switch sides, then one can begin speaking of revolution.
posted by maudlin at 6:46 PM on June 21, 2009


Super-filtered #IranElection info for the easily overwhelmed via bb
posted by acro at 6:47 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


delmoi, it's not that something must be necessary to be done—I just think it's disrespectful to the girl and to her father's grief. What does this video do that an article wouldn't, except make the violence more visceral?
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:48 PM on June 21, 2009


I watched this video earlier today. Such a sad, sad event.

The refutation of authenticity linked above does not convince me. I am not a medical professional but somewhere, somehow, I learned that serious brain injury (as surely must have occurred given the blood underneath her head in the very first frames) can cause the eyes to drift dramatically off to one side.

I might be wrong but I believe this poor child died from a grievous head wound as shown on this video.

.
posted by maggieb at 6:50 PM on June 21, 2009


I've decided not to watch it

Make that two of us. It sounds far too harrowing for me to stomach right now.
posted by ornate insect at 6:50 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw her death once and that was enough for me. For that reason, verifying its authenticity is very important (to me). We have a lot of people being compelled to witness atrocities through the lens of long-term players like the CIA, the Iranian government and mass media outlets. If we're going to be manipulated into outrage, better that we know that the basis of our outrage is legitimate.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:50 PM on June 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


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posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 PM on June 21, 2009


Perhaps I'm just a heartless bastard, but I don't see why this should be linked. We know it happens, is it necessary to have a video of it on Youtube? If so, is it necessary to have it linked on Metafilter?

Yes, it is absolutely necessary. This young women died for the kinds of freedoms most of us here take for granted. The least we can do is bear witness and share what we have seen. Sorry if you find it inconvenient to have to pass your eyes over such things.

If the answer to either is "yes," then we'd better get started uploading the videos of the deaths of the thousands (millions?) of people who have died in war and unrest in the last decade.


What's stopping you?
posted by lunasol at 6:58 PM on June 21, 2009 [19 favorites]


This is a good post ruined by a completely spurious allegation that the video is faked. So this entire thread is going to be spent arguing about nonsense while more kids are being gunned down in the streets.
posted by empath at 6:58 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


.

Truly horrifying. Power clings on as tenaciously as ever.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:58 PM on June 21, 2009


I've watched thousands of people "die" on television and in the movies. I've seen more than a dozen people die from grenades, shells and sniper bullets. I'm sad to say that this looks just like the real deaths I've seen. I started shaking and I'm still really upset by it.

Perhaps I'm just a heartless bastard, but I don't see why this should be linked. We know it happens, is it necessary to have a video of it on Youtube? If so, is it necessary to have it linked on Metafilter?

There's a difference between "knowing" it happens and being confronted with it in a way that might compel meaningful action. Everyone "knew" what was happening in Sarajevo when I was there, but it wasn't until all the media footage of civilians being blown to pieces as made public that anything changed for for the city. (The editors of The New Republic wrote: "It was CNN that saved Sarajevo, not Clinton . . .") Many of us lost more than we bear to think about in the time it took to rally public demands for intervention into political action.

This beautiful girl died for what she believed in. Many of her peers carry signs in English, with the desperate hope that the outside world will see, and in whatever way could be possible, might help . . . even if only by becoming more acutely aware of their situation and their struggle to be heard. In a symbolic sense, I'd reckon that Neda Soltani herself would have wanted you and everyone else to see this.

On the one hand, they (assuming they're all authentic) prove the magnitude of violence, but on the other, what does it do to the families? Can we trust people to treat these recordings with real respect?

I can speak for my own situation at least. The footage which exists of my headless father and the few remaining pieces of my mother - none bigger than a kilogram or two - cause me pain to consider even now. But I never had a single qualm about these being broadcast in my country, Germany, America and elsewhere. I'd have sent a video myself to anyone who asked. Their deaths were a crime against humanity, and I wanted everyone to know, whether they would respect that or not. I know Neda's family will feel a similar pain, but I am positive that they would want the world to know the grievous butchery that has been done to their sweet daughter, at the hands of madmen, in the pursuit of power and control.

It's not a pleasant video, and Neda's pain is visceral. I'm not unaware of what this sort of thing looks like; the video was never going to teach me a thing. But I'm proud to have watched it in honor of this brave and unfortunate girl.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:59 PM on June 21, 2009 [173 favorites]


I've heard rumors that she and her father were merely watching a protest from a distance, not actually part of it. As such, I'm not sure it's appropriate that her image be used as 'the face of the struggle' - she may not have personally even supported it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:00 PM on June 21, 2009


This is a good post ruined by a completely spurious allegation that the video is faked

amazonfail
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:00 PM on June 21, 2009


Um, so my last comment was needlessly snarky and accusatory. Sorry about that, and please disregard and just reed Dee's comment instead. This whole thing has me all het up, but that's no excuse to be so uncivil.
posted by lunasol at 7:04 PM on June 21, 2009


RIP, darling.
posted by Devils Slide at 7:04 PM on June 21, 2009




"...then we'd better get started uploading the videos of the deaths of the thousands (millions?) of people who have died in war and unrest in the last decade."

Whyzzat?
posted by bz at 7:05 PM on June 21, 2009


.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:05 PM on June 21, 2009


What does this video do that an article wouldn't, except make the violence more visceral?

Making it more visceral is exactly the point. Intellectually understanding something is far different from feeling it or viewing it because the latter provides an emotional impact that the former often lacks. In my own limited experience, I can say that I've read a lot about poverty is extremely poor countries, but until I actually worked for a time in such countries and actually saw the suffering up close, I had no true understanding of what it meant.
posted by Falconetti at 7:06 PM on June 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


We can bear witness to things without having visual evidence of them. The people who would not empathize with her will not be moved by the pictures; people who enjoy such things will take sick pleasure in the watching; and many empathetic people will avoid seeing the video anyway because they know it would deeply affect them.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:09 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


.

I have no words.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:10 PM on June 21, 2009


This video makes me ask a lot of questions, but whether what it appears to be showing is real or not, isn't one of them.

This is a video of a young woman dying in the street, and while tragic it is almost completely lacking in context. This video could have been taken in many different places, and at many different times. Yet it is being used to inflame people right now for a cause, that while may be right, also serves the interests of people and factions that wouldn't be above using such a thing for propaganda.

That said, no matter what the time or place, it is still awful.
posted by paradoxflow at 7:10 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by yeloson at 7:11 PM on June 21, 2009


I've heard rumors that she and her father were merely watching a protest from a distance, not actually part of it. As such, I'm not sure it's appropriate that her image be used as 'the face of the struggle' - she may not have personally even supported it.

There's a YouTube video showing her and her father watching the protest, before she was shot. The link is to Nick Pitney's blog at HuffPo; the video in question is embedded at 2:23PM.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:12 PM on June 21, 2009


For anyone who doesn't want/have a YT account, you can convert the URL of any "mature only" link to an accountless link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JlZnvs1tl0 - requires login
http://www.youtube.com/v/8JlZnvs1tl0 - does not
posted by Mikey-San at 7:13 PM on June 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


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posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:14 PM on June 21, 2009


[oops. Should have italicized the quoted bit from Mitrovar's post above.]
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:14 PM on June 21, 2009


The open question is can the army and the police keep attacking their own people like this? There is some evidence that they may not be able to

That's how Ceausescu fell in Romania. Ceausescu deployed the army to "control" (i.e. gun down) the protestors in Bucharest, and they did for a while, then they switched sides and sided with the protestors. So that's not without precedent.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:15 PM on June 21, 2009


(she's on the left as it starts with her father in the blue striped shirt.)
posted by empath at 7:15 PM on June 21, 2009


We can bear witness to things without having visual evidence of them. The people who would not empathize with her will not be moved by the pictures; people who enjoy such things will take sick pleasure in the watching; and many empathetic people will avoid seeing the video anyway because they know it would deeply affect them.

But this isn't just about empathizing, is it? We can know there's a war going on somewheres, or that a girl was killed at a protest, and read about it. But as Falconetti, Dee, and others have pointed out, it's the visual site that effects on a deeper level, which I believe can prompt people to move from merely empathizing to actually doing something about it. We knew we were using napalm in Vietnam, killing civilians. But when a black-and-white photo of a badly-burned child running naked, crying, for her burning village was published, this became the emblematic symbol of the atrocity of that war. Why do you think one of the first things any totalitarian state will do when engaging in a crackdown is block any photos or videos? The visual record can drive people to act in a way that words alone do not.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:16 PM on June 21, 2009 [12 favorites]


she's on the left as it starts with her father in the blue striped shirt.

Well then. I guess I'm wrong.

I still think it is odd that the video starts at that particular moment.
posted by paradoxflow at 7:18 PM on June 21, 2009


I think that there is an incredibly important purpose to having (shocking, graphic, awful) images make it out. Without witnesses, it is possible to do anything, commit any atrocity. And even with cameras and outside witnesses present, people will still commit awful, awful crimes.

But when something is witnessed, no one can later say "that didn't happen." It's the difference between having someone "disappeared," and having their killing seen and exposed for the crime it is.

The dehumanization of people (as "marginals," "subversives," "subhumans," and so on) is a staple of state-run repression in the twentieth and twentyfirst centuries. Witnessing -- exposing crimes to the light of day -- preserves people's humanity, and allows for an accounting later.
posted by Forktine at 7:18 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


What is it that they will be driven to do, Marisa Stole the Precious Thing? The only thing that might have an effect at this scale is international intervention. I do not see international intervention as desirable.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:19 PM on June 21, 2009


I do not see international intervention as desirable.

If by "international intervention" you mean military incursion I'd agree. Fortunately, that's not the only kind of international intervention that there is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:21 PM on June 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


I've got this defect in my brain whereby I don't picture anything when I'm reading. All I see are words. No writer is going to be able to describe what I just saw in that video.
posted by gman at 7:22 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just think it's disrespectful to the girl and to her father's grief.

So she can be forgotten, another anonymous death in the middle east....

Or she can become an icon to a transformative revolution and impact the lives of millions.

I have trouble with 'disrespectful.' This is not some tabloid sensationalizing a victim to increase magazine sales. This is history happening.
posted by rokusan at 7:23 PM on June 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


There's a conversation to be had here, and especially about the Shia respect for martyrs that also meant that Mussavi's statement that he had undergone ritual washing and was ready for martyrdom was important. It also ties in with the shouts of Ya Hossein, given that the original Hossein was also a martyr at the Battle of Karbala (and praised for his sacrifice). Death by martyrdom has a central part in Shia culture, and it's worth examining it to understand the likely course of the uprising and why periodic demonstrations are nominated as mourning days.

That end to the post isn't going to make it happen though.
posted by jaduncan at 7:24 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm a dude and I know we're not supposed to cry much, but I cried watching that young woman die. If she becomes the symbol of a movement toward greater freedom in the midst of repression and inspires others to fight the tyranny of the clerics, then this video will have served a noble purpose. I'm glad it was released, as painful as it was to watch.

What will we do, as a nation, if the government there begins mass killing their people? Can we stand by and watch a hundred thousand people massacred? A million people? Five million? At some point inaction would become immoral. Let us hope we that don't, as a nation, have to make such a decision.
posted by jamstigator at 7:27 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let us hope we that don't, as a nation, have to make such a decision.

Especially because our track record on this subject is pretty appallingly bad.
posted by Forktine at 7:29 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


This event made me think about the mindset of the brutal thugs who are committing these atrocities. How can one carefully take aim at a young woman who doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly "(lethal) punishment worthy"? She's just milling about with her father and chanting some slogans just like everybody else in the vicinity. It just shows how sick and depraved these bastards are. Her killer would probably never have a chance to be in the company of a lovely and dedicated girl like her (at least if she had anything to do with it) and his frustration, envy, and rage results in him specifically picking her out as a target. It reminds me of the acid attacks that are sadly becoming commonplace throughout Asia. Of course, I may be reading way too much into this. It could have been a stray shot, he could have been aiming for someone else etc., and I realize I'm almost canonizing Neda, but those were my first thoughts after the initial shock, anger, and sadness I felt watching a young life end before my eyes.
posted by Devils Slide at 7:34 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I still think it is odd that the video starts at that particular moment.

Reports are saying that the basiji are now targeting anyone with a cellphone or camera. Given those dangers, I wouldn't read too much into where any video starts or stops.

For anyone who hasn't been following the situation in Iran over the past week, to put the chaos of these protests over the past week into context, you might want to have a look at either Nick Pitney's blog on HuffPo, or Andrew Sullivan's blog [discussed in this prior MeFi thread] who've been aggregating, posting and embedding the videos and other first person accounts coming out of Iran.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:35 PM on June 21, 2009


At some point inaction would become immoral.

I expect the American government is taking action already. There's good reason not to openly acknowledge such action, i.e. doing so would make it really easy to villify the Iranian protestors as American puppets.
posted by scottreynen at 7:35 PM on June 21, 2009


You know, all they had to do was actually count the votes and then this girl, as well as many others, would still be alive today.
posted by grounded at 7:35 PM on June 21, 2009


Sonic meat machine:

Here's the famous photo of the young woman kneeling and crying over the body of a student shot dead at Kent State. The photo brought student protests all over the country, and brought about massive changes to crowd-control protocol throughout the U.S. Do you think that Walter Cronkite reading the news that the National Guard had fired on a large student protest in Ohio would have brought about these actions, demands, and changes, since there was no twitter, no flickr, no internet, and no footage?

Disrespectful to the dead young man's family? Should it never have been published? Should he have been left unremembered, and his death been in vain?

How many more would you like me to pull up? There are lots and lots to be found.
posted by tzikeh at 7:46 PM on June 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


She was one of us. So, for the record, she still is.

.
posted by humannaire at 7:46 PM on June 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


We can bear witness to things without having visual evidence of them. The people who would not empathize with her will not be moved by the pictures;

Oh bullshit. Everyone knows that seeing something is far more shocking then actually being told about it, for one thing. And for another many people don't take that many logical steps. From being told "There is oppression and people are getting shot in Iran" to imagining this kind of image is a bridge that not everyone will cross.

Furthermore, an image has more memetic intensity then a story or description. And people always doubt the text they read (well okay, not everyone doubts) but there is a kernel of doubt. Showing the image is much more believable.

Just think about the outrage after the Guantanamo pictures got out, compared to what happened before.

people who enjoy such things will take sick pleasure in the watching;

Oh please.
posted by delmoi at 7:47 PM on June 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


There is a meme (less on webpages, more on twitter, which I'm less interested in linking to) that the vid is faked. I don't believe it, but no major news source can confirm the age or death of this young woman, so until then, I want to err on the side of caution. I'm sorry you feel that the FPP is ruined as a result.

I myself have only been able to watch the video in fits and starts. It is incredibly sad. It conjures up powerful emotions immediately, and has become a large node in the conversation on the situation in Iran. I felt that justified immediate posting, before all the necessary information came in on the victim herself.

And since I didn't want to editorialize, I left this out of the FPP:





.
posted by orville sash at 7:53 PM on June 21, 2009


All of this makes me appreciate the second amendment (in full on NRA interpretation) quite a bit more.

And it makes me want to kill the motherfucking pig who took that shot. Only I'd like to do it with a 30/30 at close range so I could see his eyes in the seconds before I took the shot. Wanna bet that cowardly douchebag would beg for his worthless thug life?

I hope CIA and/or Iraqi Shi'ites have figured out some way of getting arms to the protesters. Thugs understand only one language; they deserve whatever they're willing to do done to them.

.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:54 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by aerotive at 7:56 PM on June 21, 2009


We can bear witness to things without having visual evidence of them.

we can also fuck off into silent apathy (or despair) a lot quieter than you've been doing
posted by pyramid termite at 7:58 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


So she can be forgotten, another anonymous death in the middle east....

Or she can become an icon to a transformative revolution and impact the lives of millions.


Not to make light of what's happening in Iran right now, but somebody should see to it that Afghanistan civilians get Twitter accounts, too.

The last couple of times there were "transformative revolutions" in Iran, it didn't work out so well. Why is everyone so sure another one now would yield any better result?

Revolutions, by their very nature, cause the breakdown in the political power structures of civic institutions and law, leaving behind only one form of authority: brute force. The winning interests in revolutions just as often as not are those most willing to use brutality to achieve political dominance. Even revolutions predicated on Democratically-minded movements are often ultimately subverted by the unpredictable power dynamics that emerge when civic institutions breakdown.

For my part, as appalling as I find Iran's crackdowns, I find it hard to muster up any enthusiasm about any progression of historical events with the potential to transform what has become a by and large stable and peaceful post-industrial nation into a blood-soaked war-zone, regardless of how inspiring and hopeful I might find the ambitions and aspirations of the political movement at the center of the events. There are enough blood-soaked war-zones in the world already. I can't even begin to imagine cheer-leading even just the potential creation of another so soon.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:58 PM on June 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


I hope CIA and/or Iraqi Shi'ites have figured out some way of getting arms to the protesters. Thugs understand only one language; they deserve whatever they're willing to do done to them.

The last thing we need is the CIA arming the protesters. It will only lead to more deaths, paint the protesters as doing the CIA's will to bring Iran under American control, and strengthen the government in the end.

I wish I could see a peaceful, just way for these protests to end. I don't.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:01 PM on June 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


These are actually two separate videos of the girl dying, edited together. I believe the second video is even more powerful than the first. Any person who watches both cannot honestly doubt the authenticity of her death.
posted by billysumday at 8:02 PM on June 21, 2009


Why is everyone so sure another one now would yield any better result?

i'm not sure of anything right now - but with the news in china and some other places in the world, including iran, i'm beginning to wonder if this might not be an 1848-type year - which started with great hope, and then collapsed into counter-revolution

except what's going on now might be a lot more bloody and drawn out
posted by pyramid termite at 8:03 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


This has been all over the other thread, but it is so powerful, it is their tank man, it deserves its own post. It looks like the forces of oppression have taken this day, and that often is enough, but you never know, Neda might just be enough to keep the opposition going. Her death is a potent stimulant to all who oppose the oppression fomented by the current leaders.

In some ways overzealous soldier bozos sometimes end wars. I don't know if it will happen here. It might. Some violent bozos gunned down four students in Ohio and then the Vietnam war was over. It took a few more years, but that turned the tide. Those four lives saved so many more.

I hope that Neda's life will save many more as well. The signs are bad, but these things are in flux and can be hard to pin down.
posted by caddis at 8:05 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope CIA and/or Iraqi Shi'ites have figured out some way of getting arms to the protesters. Thugs understand only one language; they deserve whatever they're willing to do done to them.

That wouldn't do anyone any good. It's bad (and brutal) enough as it is but with gunfights, it only serves as justification to crack down even harder on the protestors. It's idealistic but the protester's and Mousavi's supporter best action is to continue to peacefully protest and overwhelm with numbers, drawing in more and more slices of the Iranian population each day with their cause: they are beating us, killing us even when we remain peaceful, even when we are protecting the revolution. Violence has the risk of alienating the population and painting yourself in the terrorists trap.
posted by tksh at 8:06 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I confess that when I watched the original film of Neda's last moments, I raised an eyebrow slightly. I found another video - there were definitely 2 films from different angles - I went through it frame by frame. This must have been very very early on, as soon as they were up on yt & fb. And I have witnessed that sort of trauma a number of times close at hand. So I'm saying I do understand how some level of questioning can have arisen here, beyond the regular web hoaxery knee-jerkery.

Oh, I do believe I was watching the last moments or even the moments after death of that woman named Neda.
posted by peacay at 8:06 PM on June 21, 2009


A friend just forwarded this to me:

The confirmed number of dead in the past 3 days until the midnight of Tuesday 16th June in Iran.

Tehran 23, Shiraz 11, Isfehan 7, Qum 4, Arak 2,
Mash'had 9, Saary 5, Baabol 3, Bushehr 1,
Ahvaz 6, Khorramshahr 4, Tabriz 11, Rezaiyeeh 13,
Maraagheh 2, Kermanshaah 7, Sanandaj 26, Saghez 6,
Baaneh 3, Mahaabaad 12, Karaj 7, Saghez 5, Hamadan 6,
Rasht 4, Bandar Pahlavi 7, Shush & Haft Tappeh 12,
Loristan Province 25, Sistan & Baluchistan province 29
people.

With the latest dozens well over 300 killed and hundreds more wounded and many thousands arrested including clerics, journalists and the wounded protestors

The above numbers were released by the Iranian Students solidarity Movement in Iran, one of the largest
in Iran with over 6000 members.

ALSO the employee of the Ministry of Interior who leaked the real statistics (formal letter available later) WAS KILED WITHIN TWO DAYS in a bizarre car accident!

antimullah.com
[WARNING, extremely graphic and disturbing images of this rebellion]
posted by nickyskye at 8:08 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neda won't be the martyr, Mousavi will. He has essentially called Khamenei's bluff, and is now waiting to be executed.

I've been reading a lot about Iran lately and Shia culture. It is a very sorrowful culture, lots of mourning, lots of suffering. The idea of martyrdom and sacrifice is very ingrained. The idea of dying for a cause, dying for Islam, it's very powerful. It's the undercurrent that runs underneath everything. So I think that ultimately Mousavi will keep pushing against the regime, leaving them with a choice - let him win, or kill him and make him a martyr for millions. It's very dramatic stuff, the stuff of myth and literature.
posted by billysumday at 8:09 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dee Xtrovert, thanks so much for sharing your experiences. The more I think about it, of course these things should be public property, and if I knew this young woman, of course I'd want the world to know how horrible and gratuitous her death was.

It's an important record of an important time in history, and we should know it exists. I still can't bring myself to watch it, though.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:12 PM on June 21, 2009


At some point inaction would become immoral. Let us hope we that don't, as a nation, have to make such a decision.

Can we think of a single time when supposed "humanitarian" military intervention worked out all that well for everybody involved? Haven't we learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan?
posted by Justinian at 8:13 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


We know it happens, is it necessary to have a video of it on Youtube?

This has happened before. See: Emmett Till and the nascent civil rights movement. Sometimes it just takes one image, one image capturing something that has happened to thousands of others, to start a movement and foment real change.
posted by Alison at 8:13 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw this video yesterday and it shook me badly. I clicked a tinyurl posted by an Iranian Twitterer not knowing what I was in for. Normally I avoid looking at the graphic stuff (I still haven't seen any of the images from Abu Ghraib), and if I had known was it was I probably wouldn't have clicked on that link.

I guess I don't really want to witness death. That's pretty privileged of me. I'm pretty sure Neda didn't want to experience death just then, but she didn't have the choice. So who am I to look away?

I want them to overthrow this government, but I also want them all to be safe. I guess overthrowing governments is never a safe thing to attempt, so my wishes are contradictory.

.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:16 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think the protesters want to be armed- they are peacefully protesting for a transparent electoral process and a more responsive government, not for bloody revolution. No one in their right mind wants bloody revolution and if you think you do you are probably very young or very sheltered. Bloody revolutions pretty much guarantee years worth of thousands of young people dying in the streets like this.

"...then we'd better get started uploading the videos of the deaths of the thousands (millions?) of people who have died in war and unrest in the last decade."

Personally I think we should be showing them in high schools. People need to realize what they are capable of as a species or those atrocities will keep happening.
posted by fshgrl at 8:22 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've heard rumors that she and her father were merely watching a protest from a distance, not actually part of it. As such, I'm not sure it's appropriate that her image be used as 'the face of the struggle' - she may not have personally even supported it.

I was in Budapest on the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Revolution. There were only two sorts of people who went anywhere near the Parliament at this time: supporters of the demonstration (largely conservative nationalists), and wide-eyed tourists. People upset by the obnoxious demonstration wouldn't go near it. "Gawking" by natives was non-existent. I was told, many times, by lovely, polite Budapesti to please not go near the demonstrations. To do so would make it look as if there was greater support than there was, and also these "bad" Hungarians might "taint" my sense of Hungary as a developed place deserving of its place in Europe.

Similarly, when many Sarajevans demonstrated against Serbian aggression, the people who were not for the cause made a point of staying in doors and shuttering their windows. This is a general truism in places where demonstrations are not the often lively, safe and social affairs they tend to be in America.

Given the threats against protesters by the government and the known fates of many who've taken to the streets in Iran in the past, there really isn't any such thing as an "innocent spectator." To be out on the streets at all was a danger - an obvious one - and being on the street during such actions is in itself tantamount to expressing revolutionary ideas . . . as evidenced by Neda's fate. I didn't know Neda or her family, but trust me, her status on the street, within the context of the Iranian understanding of such things, was protest. In fact, part of what's so tragic about this may very well be the extreme passivity of her form of "protest," and the danger even that presents to a tyrannical regime. This, to me, makes her an even more symbolic "face of the struggle," even if I'd rather be picture her waking up tomorrow and to enjoy mint tea with her family.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:26 PM on June 21, 2009 [26 favorites]


Can we think of a single time when supposed "humanitarian" military intervention worked out all that well for everybody involved?

What do you mean "for everybody involved"? Were such an action successful, it would necessarily be bad for those it was directed against at least. By definition, it cannot "work out" for everybody.

But I'll bite. How about the multinational intervention in Timor-Leste in 2006?

Iran's far too big for this kind of thing, of course.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:27 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope CIA and/or Iraqi Shi'ites have figured out some way of getting arms to the protesters. Thugs understand only one language; they deserve whatever they're willing to do done to them.

I'm worried that adding more guns into the mix could lead to an intractable civil war. It isn't clear how well organized the protests are right now. There may still be a chance to reform the existing power structure without completely destroying it. If the violence escalates, what will stop it? Iraq is what happens when you depose a dictator and try to solve the resulting problems with big guns.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:28 PM on June 21, 2009


It's because of this that me and a few of my family members have decided to stop watching youtube videos of Iran for a while. They make me too sad, and they don't really do anything but reinforce how awful this all is.
posted by azarbayejani at 8:31 PM on June 21, 2009


In other news, images reveal horror of 'Amazon's Tiananmen' (graphic).

Sorry if it's OT, but it seems relevant, somehow.
posted by knave at 8:31 PM on June 21, 2009


For the record, if you know of the map of embassies accepting wounded at http://tinyurl.com/nwrvsd, that's my map, and I'd appreciate updates about who's accepting wounded and who's not.

I went to the protest in Washington DC today and there were people holding up signs and chanting - and one of the things that was chanted the loudest was something in Farsi about Neda, and then many of us chanted 'Neda, we miss you'. She died horribly, and I hope she does not die in vain (in fact, my sign said 'Neda will not die in vain').

That, to me, was more salient than even seeing the Shah of Iran and his family personally come to the protest at 6 pm and make a statement. (Fun fact: I accidentally bumped into his wife and daughters, thinking they were just two other protesters, and then was informed about who they were.)
posted by kldickson at 8:34 PM on June 21, 2009


I'm not sure of anything right now - but with the news in china and some other places in the world

Chinese people riot all the time. Especially lately with the economic downturn. The government usually gets a handle on it.

That said, if this works out, it could have a domino effect in China and other repressive regimes. Frankly I think that if Iran falls it would be a huge blow to totalitarianism worldwide. Or maybe not.
posted by delmoi at 8:35 PM on June 21, 2009


Time on the 40-day Cycle:

Shiite Muslims mourn their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after a death, and these commemorations are a pivotal part of Iran's rich history. During the revolution, the pattern of confrontations between the shah's security forces and the revolutionaries often played out in 40-day cycles.

The first clashes in January 1978 produced two deaths that were then commemorated on the 40th day in mass gatherings, which in turn produced new confrontations with security forces — and new deaths. Those deaths then generated another 40-day period of mourning, new clashes, and further deaths. The cycle continued throughout most of the year until the shah's ouster in January 1979.

posted by b1tr0t at 8:37 PM on June 21, 2009


Frankly I think that if Iran falls it would be a huge blow to totalitarianism worldwide. Or maybe not.

Good point!
posted by billysumday at 8:37 PM on June 21, 2009


If the answer to either is "yes," then we'd better get started uploading the videos of the deaths of the thousands (millions?) of people who have died in war and unrest in the last decade.

Yes we should, if such a thing was possible. In an ideal world there would be a record and memory of all such atrocities.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:39 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


That, to me, was more salient than even seeing the Shah of Iran and his family personally come to the protest at 6 pm and make a statement.

It doesn't take much knowledge of Iranian history to suppose that if it hadn't been for the last real Shah, his father, and the West's inglorious interactions with both, that there would be a good chance that none of this crap would be happening today.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:39 PM on June 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Sorry, pyramid termite, I just don't think it's worthwhile to flagellate your psyche over things you have nothing to do with and that you fundamentally cannot affect. It's not that I'm apathetic; if I had the power to do so I would certainly ensure that Iran had free and fair elections. I don't. Nor is there a way for me to meaningfully contribute.

I certainly don't want the CIA fucking around in Iran, nor do I hope that they have a bloody civil war. To the people who want either: what the fuck?
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:47 PM on June 21, 2009


Sorry, pyramid termite, I just don't think it's worthwhile to flagellate your psyche over things you have nothing to do with and that you fundamentally cannot affect.

but it's worthwhile to flagellate others for mentioning those things and linking to them

no one's forcing you to watch or comment
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just don't think it's worthwhile to flagellate your psyche over things you have nothing to do with and that you fundamentally cannot affect.

Yeah, it's totally not worthwhile to show my students the first footage to come out of the liberation of Buchenwald. What a snore, especially since they can't do anything about it. God forbid they should "flagellate" their "psyche"s; that never got *anyone* thinking.

You know what, I'm calling bullshit on "can't do anything about it." If we never showed anyone any photographs or movies, or had them read any books about something we decided they couldn't do anything about, nothing would ever get done. Inspiration and motivation come from anywhere and everywhere. People should be exposed to as much information, pleasant or un-, as possible, across the globe.

As for the fact that some people get off on violence--well, some people will groove on anything. Don't see exactly what that's got to do with it.
posted by tzikeh at 9:04 PM on June 21, 2009 [8 favorites]


So some in this thread have argued it takes a certain chauvinism of privilege to not relish investing an image of a young woman bleeding to death in the streets of a foreign country caught up in internal political unrest with political symbolism, and yet, wishing for our country to smuggle weapons into the country or contemplating the possible need for future military intervention is just kosher?

Jesus.

What if this were a different time and place. Suppose the events of the early 1970s were unfolding here, now. US student protesters at Kent State were twittering video of their fellow students as they lay bleeding to death in the streets, after having been shot by the Ohio State Guard, feeding the waves of protests and student strikes that swept the nation in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

Now imagine some bizarro world MetaFilter hosted in Tehran discussing these videos and twitter feeds and having these same kinds of conversation: "We should send in troops," "We should smuggle in weapons," "We should throw more support behind the revolutionaries," etc.

Is it possible to imagine any other region in the world where even ordinary citizens feel so entitled to their worldview that they can glibly entertain capitalizing on this kind of personal tragedy to feed further political unrest with the potential to destabilize a long-recognized, legally sovereign nation to advance what are essentially short-term political interests?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:05 PM on June 21, 2009 [16 favorites]


sonic meat machine: I'm sorry if seeing reality reported makes you uncomfortable, and if you don't have to be involved with the world if you don't want to be; there's some nice posts on flowers and video games posted today you can focus on. But don't complain about people who do want to be involved with what's going on in the world.

And by the way? Yes you are pretty much the textbook definition of apathetic.
posted by happyroach at 9:09 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:10 PM on June 21, 2009


i was not being dismissive or insulting anyone pyramid termite

i am simply expressing the opinion that brutal images do not necessarily contribute anything valuable to the discourse
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:13 PM on June 21, 2009


It's not that I'm apathetic; if I had the power to do so I would certainly ensure that Iran had free and fair elections.

But that isn't really the point. None of us has the power individually to influence events in Iran, let alone ensure free elections there, but that doesn't prevent us from having an emotional response to what's going on over there, whether it's self-flagellating (to use your description) or not.
posted by blucevalo at 9:14 PM on June 21, 2009


Can we think of a single time when supposed "humanitarian" military intervention worked out all that well for everybody involved?

Berlin Airlift

The blockade also helped to surmount any remaining difference between the French, British and Americans regarding West Germany, leading to a merger of all three countries' occupation zones into "trizonia".[49] These countries also agreed to replace their military administrations in those zones with high commissioners operating within the terms of a three-power occupation statute.[49] The blockade also helped to unify German leaders, some of whom were at first fearful of the creation of a civilian west German government in the face of Soviet opposition, in supporting the creation of West German government.[49] The blockade also created an increasing perception among many in Europe that the Soviets posed a danger, helping to prompt the entry into NATO of Italy, Denmark, Norway, and the Benelux.[50]

Animosities between Germans and western allies Britain, France and the United States were greatly reduced by the airlift, with each of the former opponents recognizing common interests, shared values and mutual respect.[4] The Soviets thereafter refused to return to the Allied Control Council in Berlin, rendering useless the four-power occupation authority foreseen at Potsdam.[4] It has also been argued that the events pertaining to the Berlin Blockade are proof to the fact that the Allies conducted their affairs within a rational framework, since they were keen to avoid war at all costs.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:17 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is it possible to imagine any other region in the world where even ordinary citizens feel so entitled to their worldview that they can glibly entertain capitalizing on this kind of personal tragedy to feed further political unrest

I don't think the concept of using a martyr for political ends is limited to the united states, or even the west.

a long-recognized, legally sovereign nation

what?
posted by b1tr0t at 9:17 PM on June 21, 2009


During a press conference, Governor Rhodes called the protesters un-American and referred to the protesters as revolutionaries set on destroying higher education in Ohio. "They're worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the night riders and the vigilantes," Rhodes said. "They're the worst type of people that we harbor in America. I think that we're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.
[An image of the greatest threat to the American way of life.]

We're still always the good guys, right? Only totalitarian regimes engage in oppressive crackdowns on protest movements.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:18 PM on June 21, 2009


happyroach: Seeing reality reported does not make me uncomfortable. I read about this earlier, on Google News. I do dispute that it is necessary to visually reproduce the sad, ugly end of a fellow human being in order to understand how sad and ugly it is. I am not against the report of the event, I am against its representation. Please make the distinction.

Furthermore, if I were apathetic I wouldn't engage in my local environment, which I have the power to influence. I wouldn't vote. I wouldn't donate money and time to charities of my choice. However, I don't have the ability to affect the conduct of civil unrest or elections in a sovereign state seven thousand miles away from my hometown. I don't possess the hubris to think that I should, either.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:20 PM on June 21, 2009


I hope CIA and/or Iraqi Shi'ites have figured out some way of getting arms to the protesters. Thugs understand only one language; they deserve whatever they're willing to do done to them.

I wish someone was smuggling satellite phones with SMS messaging to them--it appears that cel traffic is jammed. Are the TOR relays making any difference?
posted by mecran01 at 9:21 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The visual record can drive people to act in a way that words alone do not.

Which is why the Guantanamo records are still being hidden. The truth, especially when it's ugly, should be revealed.

People have a right to protest.

.
posted by shetterly at 9:21 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


a long-recognized, legally sovereign nation

what?


Iran is a signatory to numerous international treaties and is a member of the UN. It's a legally-recognized sovereign nation. Sure, there are some sanctions against it, but there are sanctions against lots of nations that are still recognized as sovereign.

So what what?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:26 PM on June 21, 2009


i am simply expressing the opinion that brutal images do not necessarily contribute anything valuable to the discourse

I'll be honest and say that I think that's kind of a bizarre attitude. I can totally understand, and kind of sympathize with, not wanting to see graphic images yourself.

But to assert that brutal images add nothing strikes me as flying in the face of an awful lot of history. Would the anti-apartheid struggle have been the same without the famous images from Soweto? Or the above-mentioned images from Kent State, Vietnam, or the various wars in Europe? What about the images of Fred Hampton's bullet-ridden body, shot in his bedroom by police? Attacks on civil rights protesters in the south?

The idea that these images don't "contribute anything valuable to the discourse" is one that you might want to reconsider in light of how images have contributed, repeatedly, powerfully, and often.

Again, that doesn't mean that you personally need to look at them, nor that this video in particular is going to turn out to have the kind of lasting power that some other images have had. There is endless, endless footage and photographs of people being beaten and shot by security forces over the past hundred and more years, and very, very few of those images have been able to be used in ways that created anything more than momentary sympathy.
posted by Forktine at 9:34 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Forktine, those images are very qualitatively different from this video. A photograph is less visceral, ultimately, than a video. Furthermore, many of the iconic photographs of the past are of consequence rather than process; we see a body, but we do not see the death. We see violence enough to evoke outrage, but we do not see the details of the wounds. Think about the images of My Lai. The most iconic photograph is a group of bodies lying in the road. It is a horrible image, but it is valuable.

There are other images, however. The one that I regret seeing the most is an image of a woman who has been shot in the head. Her brains lie on the ground in front of her, ruined by a visible and horrific wound.

Why isn't that the iconic image of My Lai? It's because it's too brutal. Instead of infuriating people—which is the desired effect, the effect which creates action—it inflicts psychological damage upon first seeing it.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:47 PM on June 21, 2009


Have to agree with Forktine. Images are powerful. What concerns me is their use as tools for manipulation of sentiment, their use as propaganda. Personally, I think it's up to the Iranian people to decide what these images mean in the context of their domestic circumstances. It seems the height of condescension, residual colonial-era chauvinism and frivolity for those of us with no immediate personal stake in what is essentially a domestic Iranian crisis to impose political meanings on images such as this on behalf of the Iranian people while sitting comfortably at our keyboards nearly half a world away. But of course, we will anyway.

On preview, sonic meat machine may have a point about video versus still image, but that seems altogether less clear.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:50 PM on June 21, 2009


i am simply expressing the opinion that brutal images do not necessarily contribute anything valuable to the discourse

Yes, and it's a pretty absurd opinion. Hiding and covering up violent and visceral images clearly helps those who wish to use power and force and violence. On the other hand, showing the images clearly helps those who are opposed to the use of force.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


No matter what they tell you about Gandhi and MLK, no revolution has ever succeeded without at least the credible threat of force. I was being hyperbolic about the CIA, but what we have here is a slow motion massacre, speeding up. You can't beat guns with text messages, and it's a curious armchair conceit to believe you can.

I bet Neda's dad wishes he had a rocket launcher.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:50 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why isn't that the iconic image of My Lai? It's because it's too brutal. Instead of infuriating people—which is the desired effect, the effect which creates action—it inflicts psychological damage upon first seeing it.

Well, perhaps your efforts would be better focused on preventing those situations from arising, rather then trying to suppress evidence of them. Do you even realize how absurd you sound? That woman had her brains splattered on the ground, yet somehow you're the victim?
posted by delmoi at 9:53 PM on June 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


I bet Neda's dad wishes he had a rocket launcher.

Yeah, but do you really think the world would be a better and safer place if Neda's dad actually did?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:55 PM on June 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


What if this were a different time and place. Suppose the events of the early 1970s were unfolding here, now. US student protesters at Kent State were twittering video of their fellow students as they lay bleeding to death in the streets, after having been shot by the Ohio State Guard, feeding the waves of protests and student strikes that swept the nation in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

Now imagine some bizarro world MetaFilter hosted in Tehran discussing these videos and twitter feeds and having these same kinds of conversation: "We should send in troops," "We should smuggle in weapons," "We should throw more support behind the revolutionaries," etc.


In 1968? I wish somebody would have, the system was fucked.
posted by empath at 9:55 PM on June 21, 2009


.
posted by peggynature at 9:55 PM on June 21, 2009


(err.. 1970), whatever.
posted by empath at 9:56 PM on June 21, 2009


I'm not fucking saying that, delmoi. Don't be a jackass.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:56 PM on June 21, 2009


i am simply expressing the opinion that brutal images do not necessarily contribute anything valuable to the discourse

your complaints haven't contributed anything valuable, either - you can now

1) actually make a valuable contribution

2) call this out on meta

3) shut up
posted by pyramid termite at 9:57 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


If so, what about the families of those 86 Afghan civilians I mentioned up-thread? Or the uncounted thousands of Iraqi civilians killed during the invasion and occupation? Or even the relatives of all the students killed in the Kent State massacre and the ensuing riots around the US?

In 1968? I wish somebody would have, the system was fucked.

And it's changed for the better how exactly since then?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:00 PM on June 21, 2009


All you've done is insult me. I'm not going to "call it out;" I'm just going to disregard everything you say in the future.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:01 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just as an aside from the "pile on Sonic Meat Machine" party, I want to mention that the idea that Neda might have been an innocent bystander instead of a protester adds a whole level of political relevance to the video. To whit, I can't help but think that Iranians on the fence about the whole situation are more likely to turn against the government if they believe that the government cares so little about them that they'll kill an innocent to stop a protest.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:03 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


(I was referring to Kent State, which was in response to the US engagement in Vietnam, not the Chicago riots in 68, if that's what you're referring to, empath.)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:03 PM on June 21, 2009


Forktine, those images are very qualitatively different from this video. A photograph is less visceral, ultimately, than a video. Furthermore, many of the iconic photographs of the past are of consequence rather than process; we see a body, but we do not see the death.

Are you forgetting the iconic photo by Eddie Adams of the execution in Vietnam? Frank Capra's Death of a Loyalist Soldier?

A lot of the reason we think of photographs as being so different from video is because until now, there was no way to distribute and display video outside of broadcast media, which were limited in what they could show. Only very recently has it become sort of possible (limited to short videos of poor quality, mostly) to shoot video on the streets of Iran and have that video seen around the world without the filter of the evening news.

And even so, a compelling photograph can be printed on every front page, screen printed on posters and t-shirts and protest signs, and stenciled on walls. Video, even good video, can't. It's moving images, yes, but it's still more static as a medium in some ways, limited in how it can be shown and distributed.
posted by Forktine at 10:04 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Instead of everyone piling on sonic meat machine, why not make suggestions as to what he can do to affect change? What can he do right now that might help? And what have you done? Because if you have no answer for this, you've maybe demonstrated his point.
posted by Ritchie at 10:07 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


i am simply expressing the opinion that brutal images do not necessarily contribute anything valuable to the discourse

what

Maybe it doesn't do anything for YOU in particular... but it brings to light the nature of situations like this. As other well informed MeFites have said before me: think of all the photography of the Vietnam War, etc. That photography had a profound effect, but whether you choose to acknowledge it is up to you.
posted by Askiba at 10:07 PM on June 21, 2009


I just think it's disrespectful to the girl and to her father's grief.

A reporter from ABC news is now twittering that Neda's memorial service has been canceled by the authorities. There have been widespread reports of injured protesters being removed from hospitals by the secret police.

This girl has become a symbol. In other places, in other time, perhaps to acquiesce in that would be a intrusion upon her family's private grief. But in this time, at this place, her irrefutable murder stands for many deaths we don't see, that we aren't allowed to see. The memorial services have been canceled because in the history the regime is trying now by baton and bullet to etch they could never have happened, there is nothing to mourn, and the people of Iran, with an unprecedented level of turnout, reaffirmed the righteousness of the regime at the ballot box and any disturbances afterward have been the work of terrorists and outside agitators.

It may take some more days to nail down the details of who this girl was, whether she was protesting or merely a bystander witnessing the protests, how old she was, her full name. But whatever the precise circumstances turn out to be, it is now clear she was gunned down on the street in the prime of her youth just because her people were crying out for their voices to be heard and their government could not bear to listen to that cry. The very least we here can do is bear witness to her sacrifice. Do not turn your clear eyes and clean face from hers.
posted by Diablevert at 10:13 PM on June 21, 2009 [13 favorites]


Forktine: No, I didn't forget those. How could I? Still, perhaps I phrased it poorly. The invective in this thread has not improved my writing.

What I should say is that in these photos we don't see the process of death. Adams and Capra perfectly captured instants, and they are wonderful for that. However, they are not the same as seeing someone die; they do not show their loved ones screaming. The moment and image of their death can serve the world as icons of change and horror. The uglier carnage (i.e. the woman who was shot in the head in My Lai), however, does not, because our animal nature does not allow us to attach meaning to such a visceral image. In a similar vein I think the grief of a loved one supersedes the “need” of the world for an iconic image. Take a photo if you must. A video of the event seems voyeuristic and unnecessary.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:13 PM on June 21, 2009


How odd it seems that we've seen and been giving more traction to images of those killed by those we view hostile to our political interest in the recent political upheaval in Iran over the past couple of weeks than we've given in more than six years to the hundreds of thousands killed in our own ongoing military operations in two neighboring countries.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:14 PM on June 21, 2009 [13 favorites]


Instead of everyone piling on sonic meat machine, why not make suggestions as to what he can do to affect change? What can he do right now that might help? And what have you done? Because if you have no answer for this, you've maybe demonstrated his point.

I think the discussion being had with sonic meat machine is (for the most part anyway) substantial and relevant, but in terms of what can be done by us on the outside of Iran, there is and always has been grassroots organization to pressure from the bottom up. Urging our elected officials to urge the UN to get officials into Iran to conduct a recount. That's the long road. In the short term, you can stay in contact with people on the ground in Iran, via social networking sites or any other means to offer your moral support and to convey information - whether print, images or video, graphic or not - out of the country and to the mass media. The more information gets out there, the more people become outraged, the more elected officials become nervous, the more the Iranian leadership begins to see its options dwindle. The rapid disemination of information and pressure works both internally and externally to topple regimes, and the case is no different with Iran.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:15 PM on June 21, 2009


.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:18 PM on June 21, 2009


Seeing the image and its moving counterpart is supposed to damage you. And in your pain, you will stop the pain by action of some sort. Whether that is to turn away, repress and hide or with fierceness and fear in your heart to stop it with forceful action is an individual thing, but no matter the choice you are not the same.

I do not deny that video and images are moving and in being moving force a change in perception, in action and in future possibilities. So, I do get where you are coming from Sonic Meat Machine about the video but I think the intention is to indeed have impact; it is gruesome, graphic and wrenching and that is why it has impact and no mincing that fact.

Does the video add to discourse? Well, this is not about discourse in a nice electronic medium or the safety of our computer terminals BUT the belief of the heart. Hearts and minds realizing that you are less free than thought; that beliefs have a serious potential personal cost and whether those beliefs make this is a good day to die or live in uncertainty. Neda has become a symbol; a passage to the heart to the viewer; an uttered rebuke and charm to the listener and though she may not have actively sought to be that symbol, she is now. Her family had her for 16 years of life now, the protests and movement has her and so does the viewer (willing or not.)
posted by jadepearl at 10:26 PM on June 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'll spare you the links, but it takes mere moments to come up with extraordinarily graphic footage from Vietnam, Bosnia, and even the Spanish Civil War. We don't think of that footage as iconic, because we have (mostly) not been given the option of seeing it. Footage of a toddler with burned skin hanging off his foot, being carried by his crying mother, has been difficult or impossible to distribute until now (and it's still limited in how you can show and distribute it, whereas photography isn't). We don't know that footage, because we've almost never seen it.

There have always been more paths for publishing and distributing photographs, so they have been used in ways very different from how film has been used.
posted by Forktine at 10:28 PM on June 21, 2009


.
posted by everichon at 10:30 PM on June 21, 2009


We need to see this.

Iran is complex. This contributes towards a fundamental change, that can not be drawn in simple ways.

America just underwent its own quiet revolution. Less blood. But a fundamental change in how things are done.

Iran needs a chance. This repugnant act needs airing for the same reasons that it took a mountain of shit to move the neocons from America. A mountain. No link needed at this point, I hope.
posted by fcummins at 10:30 PM on June 21, 2009


What can he do right now that might help? And what have you done? Because if you have no answer for this, you've maybe demonstrated his point.

I don't have an answer, and I admit it. However, I don't think that demonstrates sonic meat machine's original point, which was that it's not "worthwhile to flagellate your psyche over things you have nothing to do with and that you fundamentally cannot affect." I don't think it even "maybe" demonstrates that point.

Helplessness and powerlessness to affect change do not equal paralysis, nor do they invite it. If they do, we're all screwed. Even if you are "only" engaging in your local environment, with the knowledge that you have no influence over events thousands of miles away, that does make a difference in the overall balance of things, even if indirectly.

Marisa Stole the Precious Thing makes several strong and excellent suggestions about actions that may help undo helplessness and powerlessness.
posted by blucevalo at 10:34 PM on June 21, 2009


Robert Fisk:
The footage of a brutal police force assaulting the political opposition on the streets of the capital has shocked the world. Rightly so, although no one has made comparison with police forces who batter demonstrators on the streets of Western Europe, who beat women with night-sticks, who have kicked over an innocent middle-aged man who immediately suffered a fatal heart attack, who have shot down an innocent passenger on the London Tube... There are special codes of morality to be applied to Middle East countries which definitely must not apply to us.
posted by lysdexic at 10:34 PM on June 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yes yes, let's bury our fucking heads in the sand. Don't show pictures. Hide the video. Allow the oppressors to mask the effects of their actions.

The footage, assuming its authenticity, should be on every news channel during prime time.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:36 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by suedehead at 10:37 PM on June 21, 2009




Dammit, hit Post instead of preview. I kind of get sonic meat machine's point that we don't have a dog in the Iran fight since there aren't any troops there - we're not intimately involved. Hopefully we won't need to be.

I think Dee Xtrovert's posts, however, are a perfect answer - we are involved because we're human. The pictures and the videos make it more human. The visuals stay in ways that prose and poems don't.

A martyr is a hero to himself, a menace to the faithful, and a fool to the unbeleiver. The real tragedy of Neda is that she really didn't have time to choose. Now everybody has to choose where they're going to stand.
posted by lysdexic at 10:39 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the difficulty, jadepearl, is that (as I said above) I view the idea that we can seriously affect the course or outcome of this situation as hubris. If you are of my opinion on that matter, it seems foolish to disseminate visceral, psychologically damaging video when a still photograph and a written report does as well to convey the meat of the information. Marisa Stole the Precious Thing raises a good point about helping people within the country receive and send information, but I doubt any but a few of us are in a position to do so.

As for why I doubt we can affect this situation, even at an international scale, well. We do not live in a unipolar world. China and Russia have vested interests in the continuing stability of the Iranian regime, and will attempt to maintain it. Furthermore, due to the poisonous history of the U.S. and Britain in the region, it's quite likely that anything the U.S. attempts to do will be derailed by public sentiment. If we speak out in favor of Mousavi, he will be seen as a stooge, and Ahmadinejad will have more ammunition for his anti-Western rhetoric. If we impose sanctions at the U.N. level, I doubt that China and Russia will observe them, and we certainly can't enforce them militarily.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:44 PM on June 21, 2009


How odd it seems that we've seen and been giving more traction to images of those killed by those we view hostile to our political interest in the recent political upheaval in Iran over the past couple of weeks than we've given in more than six years to the hundreds of thousands killed in our own ongoing military operations in two neighboring countries.

While I won't exonerate the media of nationalist bias, I think there is a categorical difference to this sort of violence from that taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. These Iranian killings can be folded more neatly into a pattern of civil protest met with police brutality. They can be, and have been, analogized with familiar events from Tiananmen Square to Kent State, from Romania to South Korea. Their imagery is as iconic as it is asymmetric - orderly phalanxes set against wild crowds, riot shield and baton against fist and rock, tear gas against molotovs.

This same pattern does not hold for the activities of the Mahdi Army, or the Shi'ite Uprising, or for the roulette-wheels of devastation caused by blind shelling and our long-distance bombs. And it doesn't hold for a female student doused in acid by her neighbors, or for a female interpreter set afire for her perceived immodesty. While these actions are no less terrible - in fact, it would be hard not to see high-altitude bombing as the worst of all, the most unfair - they are less relatable to a drama of popular resistance against police oppression. I think it is hard for us to fit them into the same story.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:07 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where is your proof that video, by definition, is more psychologically damaging than photographs and written descriptions? Really, the argument you're making is the same argument censors like to make: because you find it objectionable, other people don't need to see it. You don't have to view this video, or even like that it exists, but saying other people shouldn't because you've personally decided that it is a bad thing is offensive. I don't think you've got the right to make that call for everyone on the planet, nor do I think you have the evidence to prove your claim that we've all been psychologically damaged by the video.



BTW, there is video of the Vietnam execution.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:25 PM on June 21, 2009


"Robert Fisk:
The footage of a brutal police force assaulting the political opposition on the streets of the capital has shocked the world. Rightly so, although no one has made comparison with police forces who batter demonstrators on the streets of Western Europe, who beat women with night-sticks, who have kicked over an innocent middle-aged man who immediately suffered a fatal heart attack, who have shot down an innocent passenger on the London Tube... There are special codes of morality to be applied to Middle East countries which definitely must not apply to us."


Yeah, as I was watching video of the riot police beating on protesters, I couldn't help thinking how ordinary it all seemed. These same scenes play out in the western world on a regular basis, although the whole situation is quite chaotic and fully brutal, and Iran really is in upheaval and may even end up with a different government.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:32 PM on June 21, 2009


FWIW, if all seeing this video - and other videos from this crisis - does is make a few people think "wow, maybe the Iranian people are a lot like us and we shouldn't be listening to the folks that have been saying we should go to war with them," then I think its valuable that it gets out.

We've had eight years of U.S. government chomping at the bit to get into a fight there. Humanizing the people makes their case (weak though it was, and unlikely it is to be followed in the aftermath of their electoral pummeling) much more difficult to pursue.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:33 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Would I be as brave as she?

I am sorry for her death, and I hope that her sacrifice has value for the revolution. But I would not characterize her actions as brave. She was just out watching the protests with her dad. I really doubt that she felt she was in mortal danger, and do not think she had any intention of becoming a martyr that day.

How can one carefully take aim at a young woman who doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly "(lethal) punishment worthy"?

Again, I do not think that this was a calculated murder. There was some poor guy, probably a young boy himself, who was there with his peers and acting under orders from his commander. I would assume that he shot into the mass, and did not think to himself "Yes, that girl, I want to kill her." I'll bet he was pretty scared himself, and if he knows that he was the one who killed Neda, he's going to have a very tough go of things now and well into the future.

I hope that the man who pulled the trigger is able to find peace.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:42 PM on June 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Again, I do not think that this was a calculated murder. There was some poor guy, probably a young boy himself, who was there with his peers and acting under orders from his commander. I would assume that he shot into the mass, and did not think to himself "Yes, that girl, I want to kill her." I'll bet he was pretty scared himself, and if he knows that he was the one who killed Neda, he's going to have a very tough go of things now and well into the future.

I hope that the man who pulled the trigger is able to find peace.


Yes, it could have been a scenario like that although after seeing all the images of the atrocities perpetrated by these thugs and murderers, I wouldn't say that's what probably took place. The reports seem to indicate it was a single shot by a sniper stationed on the roof of a nearby building.

When I think about Neda's killer, I see someone like the Kalashnikov wielding bastard on top of the building in the antimullah.com link Nickyskye posted. There are too many gory examples at that site for me to attribute most of the carnage to scared kids in uniform reluctantly carrying out orders. Maybe the motorcycle riot police, but not people who cleave a young man's chest open with an axe or machete in his own dormitory.

I doubt her killer has enough of a conscience to be troubled by her murder, but if he does, I hope it haunts him the rest of his miserable life.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:33 AM on June 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I hope that the man who pulled the trigger is able to find peace.

I don't.

.
posted by OolooKitty at 12:43 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Instead of everyone piling on sonic meat machine, why not make suggestions as to what he can do to affect change? What can he do right now that might help? And what have you done? Because if you have no answer for this, you've maybe demonstrated his point.

Personally I don't think I can do anything about the situation in Iran, nor do I think some kind of radical outside intervention would be particularly helpful. But knowing that this is how things can end, that society can come to this (always comes to this) given the correct sequence of events is incredibly important information that everyone should be intimately acquainted with. And they should remember it when they vote in their local elections and when they donate money or sign petitions to support politicians or causes or religious leaders. It behooves everyone to be fully aware of the cause and effect associated with this kind of violence and abuse of power.

Having said that I didn't watch the video because I knew it was of a young woman dying and I didn't want to see it. Last time I checked youtube was still optional so I'm a bit confused by the people who did watch it and are now outraged. What were you expecting to see?
posted by fshgrl at 12:53 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I hope that the man who pulled the trigger is able to find peace."

You impress me. Genuinely so.
posted by jaduncan at 1:09 AM on June 22, 2009


However it was apparently a single, aimed shot, and it went through the heart. So I'd have to suspect it's not a boy with little training.
posted by jaduncan at 1:11 AM on June 22, 2009


Yeah, but do you really think the world would be a better and safer place if Neda's dad actually did?

Eventually. And a freer one. Which beats "safer" nine ways to Sunday in my book.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:18 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


No parent should have to bury their child.

.
posted by Skeptic at 1:30 AM on June 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Let's imagine for a moment that the CIA or some other group started smuggling small arms to the opposition (which is totally pointless, because the world is aflood with small arms, and if the opposition wants them it will have no problem procuring them without the CIA's help). So now they have rifles. So what? They are up against men with artillery. Okay, fine. Let's provide the opposition with mortars and rockets. Now what? Their opponents have mechanized armor. Alrighty then, let's scrounge up some old APCs and LAVs. Now it's a fair fight! But it isn't, not even close, because they're also facing gunships.

And so on, right up to nuclear warfare. Merely escalating the level of violence is not in itself a winning strategy. It might satisfy a thirst for vengeance, but wars are won by those who keep their cool and won't be provoked into unnecessary action. When your foe is better-armed and better-trained for war, accepting battle on his terms is simply giving him a stick to beat you with.
posted by Ritchie at 1:43 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Note: I decided against posting my last reply to this thread, since I thought it was too emotional. I apologize in advance in case that this one also is too emotional or unfair to some mefis. I am emotional, exhusted, and I have had a terrible 9 days.

---

But I would not characterize her actions as brave. She was just out watching the protests with her dad. I really doubt that she felt she was in mortal danger, and do not think she had any intention of becoming a martyr that day.

False. Her choice of being there put her in defiance with the Supreme Leaders direct threat of "go home or face a bloodshed" threat, and she well knew it. This may be difficult to grasp for someone who's lived all his/her life in a democratic Western country. There is no clear line that separates the demonstrators from the observers. There is no sign that reads: you are safe behind this line. If she chose to walk out of her home that afternoon, she well knew she may never come back.

I called a close friend right after Khamenei's speech on Friday. talked with him and his wife. The three of us well understood what Khamenei's clear message was. If they were to go out to the protests the day after, they may very well be shot to death. We joked about it. What else can you do?


Again, I do not think that this was a calculated murder. There was some poor guy, probably a young boy himself, who was there with his peers and acting under orders from his commander. I would assume that he shot into the mass, and did not think to himself "Yes, that girl, I want to kill her." I'll bet he was pretty scared himself, and if he knows that he was the one who killed Neda, he's going to have a very tough go of things now and well into the future.


False again. Please watch some of the videos posted on Daily Dish or Huffingtonpost. I know they are painful. But have you watched some of them, you would not have made this mistake. There is footage of a Basiji, in no immediate danger, calmly shooting into a crowd. Single, calculated, fatal shots. There is footage of a number of them kicking a young girl on the ground, beating old women.

---

Off topic rant: It is getting painfully difficult for me to follow Iran-related threads on my beloved MeFi. I had to stop following the first thread. I hope this news from the Iranian government's own PressTV can perhaps convince the fraud doubters. Or maybe the Guardian Council is also under the influence of the CIA.

It seems to me that MeFi's stare so hard at the picture, try so hard not to miss the bigger picture, not to be duped, that they become completely blind to what is right in front of their eyes. I mean, what could this people do to convince you? 2 million people in a city with a population of of 7 million marched in an illegal demonstration, calling the election a fraud, and you were discussing whether these are all the northern Tehran elite or if this whole thing is orchestrated by the CIA. A 26 year old woman defies the direct threat of the Supreme Leader and gets shot in the heart for it, and dies on camera, and you are discussing if it's fake, and if she really supported the demonstrations. For the love of god, what should these people do to convince you?

As a side, if there is a solidarity gathering somewhere near you, I encourage you to attend. It will show the Iranians in the crowd that they are not abandoned and alone, and they will thank you for it.
posted by lenny70 at 1:52 AM on June 22, 2009 [24 favorites]


.
posted by JauntyFedora at 1:55 AM on June 22, 2009


"it was apparently a single, aimed shot"

Unless someone saw the shooter draw a bead, that's speculation. It might be for example that one over-excited kid pulled the trigger once, saw what he had done, and stopped.

Personally, I don't care. If you fire live rounds anywhere near a crowd, it is possible or probable or inevitable that someone may be wounded and die. There's culpability aplenty even in that scenario.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:57 AM on June 22, 2009


There is footage of a Basiji, in no immediate danger, calmly shooting into a crowd.

OK, I take back my claims about what the likely scenario was. I am honestly not trying to put some negative spin on the actions of the protesters here, I guess my main point is that these are not legendary heroes and villains. They are just ordinary people.

I am trying hard to get the mindset of these Basijis... I certainly don't support or condone their actions, but by demonizing them we can put them at a remove, they aren't normal humans like us.

I would guess that they think they are defending the revolution, the same one that saw their colleagues blown up in Iraqi minefields. However perverted it is, they probably think they are defending Shia Islam.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:50 AM on June 22, 2009


"It seems to me that MeFi's stare so hard at the picture, try so hard not to miss the bigger picture, not to be duped, that they become completely blind to what is right in front of their eyes. I mean, what could this people do to convince you? 2 million people in a city with a population of of 7 million marched in an illegal demonstration, calling the election a fraud, and you were discussing whether these are all the northern Tehran elite or if this whole thing is orchestrated by the CIA. A 26 year old woman defies the direct threat of the Supreme Leader and gets shot in the heart for it, and dies on camera, and you are discussing if it's fake, and if she really supported the demonstrations. For the love of god, what should these people do to convince you?"

It seems to me on MeFi that as a culture we tend to denigrate things to attempt to prove our superiority. I think MeFi used to be somewhat more often based on debate, but that it often now degrades into competitive snark and egoboo which is sometimes only tangentially related to the topic at hand.

That said, it's still one of the places least like that on the internet, and at least the people doing it are literate. Maybe, at the age of 28, I am wondering if there are kids on my lawn.
posted by jaduncan at 3:01 AM on June 22, 2009


Just wanted to point out that my prior account was banned from MeFi because I posted a dead Iraqi civilian to the blue... and that picture was far less disturbing than this video.

Indeed, there is a HUGE double standard out there. Pretty much all of the major western broadcasters out there have no problems showing Iranians dying on a constant news loop, but they censor images of dead Iraqi and Afghani civilians, and do similarly with Palestinians.

The death of innocent, non-violent people is a horrible thing. Period. The video of poor Neda and the desperate cries of her father makes that abundantly clear. It is ABSOLUTELY newsworthy. And so were the photos and video of Israeli snipers shooting protesters or running over them with bulldozers... and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who were killed by an illegal, immoral invasion? Their deaths were newsworthy too.

Yes, it's all equally horrible, and all equally newsworthy.

The question is, whether we, as human beings, are worthy enough to view the lives of all the other humans out there as equally precious to our own, or whether we will insist upon taking sides, rather than standing by our principles and applying them fairly and equally.

I'm thinking back to my early memories of the Iranian revolution, when the Shah's soldiers slaughtered Iranian civilians by the thousand when confronted by protesters. Where were the voices of Americans then?! Had we not been so intentionally ignorant, so inhumanly callous to the Iranian people, ignoring their pleas for basic human rights, while arming and abetting their dictator, then perhaps the Iranian revolution wouldn't have gone down the radicalized rathole it did, rejecting all that was good about Western society, because we, as a people, were a nation of double standards.

Indeed, during the Iran-Iraq war, after Saddam Hussein's forces were beaten back from their invasion of Iran, and Iranians had justly brought the war into Iraqi soil, threatening the conquest of Basra and the cutting off of Iraq from the Persian Gulf, the US provided Iraq with satellite intelligence specifically designed to allow them to better target pockets of Iranian soldiers with chemical weapons. That is how we treat Iranians, after all. Nor has the U.S. been particularly compassionate about the civilian deaths in Iran through increasing internal terrorist attacks over the past decade... possibly because our government may have helped fund those responsible.

Today, we grieve for Iranian civilians. But yesterday we did not.

And that tolerance for dead Iranians, that inhumanity and intolerance that caused an equal intolerance from the Iranian leaders towards us and our values, is ultimately why Neda was shot down. She was killed by a radicalized authoritarian, religious zealot who hated what she stood for -- the right to live more like us.
posted by markkraft at 4:05 AM on June 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


.

I just hope that, like the Kent State photo and the Vietnam napalm girl, I can look back at these images and know that they were the turning point. I hope I can use this video in future as an example of how explicit photos and videos can do more than just shock, but stir people into action.
posted by twirlypen at 4:18 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Iran's Revolutionary Guard threatens protesters
A statement posted on its Web site today warned demonstrators " ... to prepare for a "revolutionary confrontation" if they take to the streets again. It was the sternest warning yet from the elite Revolutionary Guard."
posted by madamjujujive at 4:56 AM on June 22, 2009


first of all:

.

It seems like the consensus on this thread has already settled on this video being "real," but lemme just add some details from what I can see. IANAD, but every other member of my family is; in particular, my mom's a pathologist and I grew up helping her prepare slides of autopsies and crime scene photos for her lectures. Since childhood, I've seen more images of death of every sort than a necrophiliac with an internet connection. So, this is no certified coroner's report, but maybe this helps to provide an explanation of why she dies the way she does and as fast as she does.

The way Neda's eyes roll suggest a rapid loss of consciousness, which, in most cases, is due to a rapid loss of blood. It's true that the eyes can roll due to a head injury / brain damage, but the fact that there was no other visible signs of twitching makes that seem less likely. She may have been following the camera at first, but quickly she loses control over her eye muscles, which normally remain taut even when we are asleep.

Also, shortly after they laid her on her back, she bleeds first through her mouth, then her nose, and then the eyes. Most likely, the artery passing up from the heart and into the head was punctured as well as the esophagus / trachea, allowing high-pressure blood to flood up her throat and out of her head.

All of this is to say that this video looks very legitimate; to fake this would require expert knowledge of critical thoracic trauma and expert special effects makeup / video editing, and I still doubt that it would look this real. One could perhaps ask questions about whether this is really a video from the current protests, etc., but it seems to me like a young woman lost her life in this video.

Oh, and as for the question of the gunshot: I have a lot of trouble seeing this as a 'stray bullet' or even a lucky shot, considering that she's clutching a wound that is almost perfectly centered between her shoulders and just above where her heart should be. To my eyes, that's not "shoot to deter" or "shoot to disable", but an execution by someone with a lot of skill in killing.
posted by LMGM at 4:57 AM on June 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


It seems to me on MeFi that as a culture we tend to denigrate things to attempt to prove our superiority. I think MeFi used to be somewhat more often based on debate, but that it often now degrades into competitive snark and egoboo which is sometimes only tangentially related to the topic at hand.

I don't see how asking questions about things that someone presents to you as a fact is an attempt to prove our superiority. For instance I am inclined to believe that neda was killed out of sheer maliciousness of one man with a gun. However since this has entered into the realm of propaganda should I accept it as it is presented.

As for the second part I would have to agree. I find the use of snark on here to be very tiring. I understand since this is the internet you can be a dick and get away with it, but do you really have to question other peoples humanity because they happen to share a different point of view than you. There is a point to be made that the way a martyr is made is pure exploitation of that person. Then again we are the living and they are the dead.

So I guess my main point was to say that questioning things isn't some ruse to prove our smart we are. But please don't be a dick about it when you do so.
posted by Allan Gordon at 5:03 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


small auto-correction: she's not clutching the wound, it's a few people around her that are collectively trying to compress the wound.
posted by LMGM at 5:06 AM on June 22, 2009


It's obvious that this is a real death. What's not obvious is why she was shot.

The person who made the shot wasn't shooting wildly, but made a very precise shot with a target they had lined up. There is no way to know the reason for why he made the shot, but I find it hard to believe that the Iranian Government wants their snipers to shoot random protesters who are standing on the sidewalk. He could simply be a sociopath caught up in the moment, yet you would have expected more well placed shots to rain down after neda was hit. As well as the fact that the sniper could have seen that there were multiple people with cameras in the vicinity makes it harder to believe that this sniper was acting out in any official standing.

I am more inclined to believe that he was simply a militiaman who enjoyed hurting people, but there is the case to be made that the opposition had a ready made martyr right after this happened.

As has been previously mentioned in this thread, pictures and video are quite powerful. Neda was not the first to die in these protests and iirc not even the first to be filmed dieing. But she was the first to be arguably senselessly killed while she was standing next to what I understand to be her father. That is a very powerful video.

In any case no matter the reason behind the shot, a girl died with many others who are protesting what most likely to be a stolen election. It is something to see and I can only be thankful for the liberties we have here and from what I have seen this past week in Iran an obligation to make sure that we keep the liberties we have here.

My thoughts and wishes go out to all Iranians caught up in this right now.
posted by Allan Gordon at 5:21 AM on June 22, 2009




fcummins: "America just underwent its own quiet revolution. Less blood. But a fundamental change in how things are done. "

I'm sure you really believe this. Which makes it all the more dumbfounding.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:41 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neda might have been an innocent bystander instead of a protester
That's a harmfully misplaced adjective. The vast majority of people there, her likely included, were innocent, no matter whether they were bystanders or protesters.
posted by Flunkie at 5:42 AM on June 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Offer Iranians Open Internet Channel according to the Guardian live blog (1.05) Since it is summer a lot of businesses and institutions like universities have their servers running at well beneath their normal capacity. This means that they have ample bandwidth," emails David Suurland, one of the organisers of I Proxy Iran. It's apparently run by a group of Dutch students and academics.
posted by adamvasco at 6:02 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I keep coming back to this post, wondering if I will click on the main Youtube link this time. But, I can't take images such as the one described here. I don't feel like I need a visceral reminder of the pain and reality of the situation in Iran...but maybe I do. I don't know. All I can do is lend my support for their cause, and express my grief for Neda and her family.
posted by snwod at 6:13 AM on June 22, 2009


America just underwent its own quiet revolution.

Not yet it hasn't.
posted by davelog at 6:18 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by chunking express at 6:25 AM on June 22, 2009


... brutal images do not necessarily contribute anything valuable to the discourse ...

Brutal images get people out on the streets. And that's what matters. This MetaFilter thread, not so much.
posted by chunking express at 6:31 AM on June 22, 2009


America just underwent its own quiet revolution. Less blood. But a fundamental change in how things are done.

You're living in a dreamworld. If Obama had any sincere intention to fundamentally change anything he wouldn't have allowed anywhere near the White House.
posted by Scoo at 6:54 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


In response to Sonic Meat Machine, Video. images and words are power. They are all damaging so to not see the video because it is psychologically damaging is a bit difficult to comprehend because the knowledge alone is damaging to one's sense of justice and humanity.

Whether or not this video will have impact on outsiders, I think, is not considering how this effects people outside of the dispute itself. In my time on Mefi and on the boards, I read keyboard warriors type, "there will be riots in the street" or quote things like, "live free or die" in response to the daily snark, outrage or inconvenience. Well Neda's death and the protest movement, in a very visceral way, puts down the statement to all the keyboard, self-satisfying, brash talking/typing folks of what commitment for what you believe truly entails. Just because I cannot technically help by providing proxy services to the the Iranian movement doesn't mean I can't open my damn wallet and spring for the cost of an iced tea from McDonald's to help Tehran Bureau or any of the other ways my money can vote including, keeping in mind politicians of the spineless, thoughtless sort.

You look. You bear witness. You do not look away because that is negation of the event. You become aware that freedom comes at a cost everywhere and that the lust and desperation for power cuts across, cultures, genders, borders and you DO NOT LOOK AWAY at what that lust for power is willing to exact in payment from everyone around it or in its path.
posted by jadepearl at 7:09 AM on June 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


.
posted by graventy at 7:15 AM on June 22, 2009


Anyone who has anything negative to say about how things are done in our voting process should watch this. She voted thinking that was enough to be heard. In her death her voice was shouted over the crowds and now an oppressive government is still trying to silence her. I hope this gives everyone in Iran the strength and courage to overcome their fear of their government. Keep at it Iran! Change will come.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:16 AM on June 22, 2009


.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:30 AM on June 22, 2009


Eventually. And a freer one. Which beats "safer" nine ways to Sunday in my book.

At what point does your plan for creating a freer world lead to everyone putting down their rocket launchers and actually living free? The math makes your eventuality an impossibility, because every act of retributive violence only perpetuates the violence that gives rise to further acts of retribution. This dynamic is well understood and can easily be modeled.

You don't end violence by arming the victims. You don't end violence by arming people, period. It's magical thinking to suppose that you ever could.

If Neda's dad gets a rocket launcher and kills the guy who killed Neda, not only might he accidentally kill more innocents in the process, who could by your reasoning then legitimately seek retribution against the Neda's father and other protester, but he would only inflame more sentiment for further violent reprisal on the other side.

The logic of violent reprisal is inevitable and deterministic: it becomes a self-sustaining system, acting by a volatile process like nuclear fission, that can and has swallowed up whole societies in the blink of an eye. If you mean 'freer' in the ironic sense of being relieved of the 'burdens' of life, property, security, and civil society, then sure, you might get your damn 'freedom' eventually by the application of such reasoning. But what kind of freedom is that? Living most of the time holed up like a rat, scrounging for resources, surrounded by your guns and always watchful for the next round of reprisal killing squads and raiding parties?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:30 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]




The moment and image of their death can serve the world as icons of change and horror. The uglier carnage (i.e. the woman who was shot in the head in My Lai), however, does not, because our animal nature does not allow us to attach meaning to such a visceral image. In a similar vein I think the grief of a loved one supersedes the “need” of the world for an iconic image. Take a photo if you must. A video of the event seems voyeuristic and unnecessary.
You seem to be saying two separate things here, though. The first is that this video can't become iconic, because it's too intense and our "animal natures" will force us to shut down. The second is that it's voyeuristic, and that supersedes our need for icons. It seems to me that the first objection is answered by the fact that the image clearly has become iconic, both in Iran and outside of it. And while I have some sympathy with the second argument, I'm not convinced by it. There's always a voyeuristic element to coverage of any human suffering. I think that the danger of underplaying suffering supersedes the danger of voyeurism in most instances, although I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable saying that. And at any rate, this image is now a part of the conversation, rightly or wrongly. It's iconic, and ignoring it won't make it stop being iconic. If there's anything we've learned from this whole episode, it's that it's now almost impossible to stop people from getting information they want to get. So now the question is, I think, how we talk about and respond to this image that is out there and clearly influencing the conversation. It can't be suppressed. It can only be responded to and discussed.

I have no desire to join the pile-on. Like I said, I'm not watching the video, and I don't feel especially apologetic about it. I don't think you should feel bad about it if you don't want to watch it either. But there's a difference between saying that you don't want to see something and that it shouldn't be circulated or shouldn't be linked here (with a warning, which I think is appropriate).
posted by craichead at 7:39 AM on June 22, 2009


Just a thought about the ethics / utility / whatev of viewing evidence of the suffering of distant others:

There's something to be said for witnessing, bearing witness, being a witness, and so on. Back before the days of photographic / video / DNA evidence, eyewitness testimony was often the main material of analysis in matters of justice. Many christian denominations (especially evangelical ones) use terms like "witness" and "testify" to describe an activity that can have lots of consequences and goals but is also a moral act in itself. One tactic used by counter-cultural protestors is to request the presence of "witnesses" at a demonstration, people who attend the event and do not get involved, but ensure that the authorities will not be the only people able to give testimony of the ensuing confrontation.

Yes, it's silly and plate-of-beany to claim that watching an Iranian teenager die on YouTube will bring about the downfall of a regime or at least the protection of its populace, but there is something more-than-empty-gesture about it as well.
posted by LMGM at 8:37 AM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


fourcheesemac: "No matter what they tell you about Gandhi and MLK, no revolution has ever succeeded without at least the credible threat of force."

Really? Gandhi and MLK seem like pretty credible examples (along with Poland and the Philippines). What would "they" tell me that would convince me that India and the American South actually turned around because of a credible threat of force?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:44 AM on June 22, 2009


l33tpolicywonk: he's not saying that Gandhi or MLK threatened force, he's saying that other people presented a credible threat of force and made dealing with MLK and the peaceful protesters the better option for the folks in power. In MLKs case, the credible threat of force came from people like Malcolm X. The choice for the white majority came down to two things: Deal with Martin Luther King and the peaceful civil rights movement, or deal with the more violent alternative.

The threat of force in India is even more obvious: groups like the Indian National Army fought with the Axis powers against the British raj. The British could deal with Gandhi, or they could deal with an armed insurrection.
posted by Justinian at 8:53 AM on June 22, 2009


As well as the fact that the sniper could have seen that there were multiple people with cameras in the vicinity makes it harder to believe that this sniper was acting out in any official standing.

Maybe the sniper was shooting at the people with cameras, saw that he hit a girl instead, got spooked and left.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:55 AM on June 22, 2009


e.g.
posted by chunking express at 8:56 AM on June 22, 2009


There's a conversation to be had here, and especially about the Shia respect for martyrs that also meant that Mussavi's statement that he had undergone ritual washing and was ready for martyrdom was important. It also ties in with the shouts of Ya Hossein, given that the original Hossein was also a martyr at the Battle of Karbala (and praised for his sacrifice). Death by martyrdom has a central part in Shia culture, and it's worth examining it to understand the likely course of the uprising and why periodic demonstrations are nominated as mourning days.

More on this here: In Iran, One Woman's Death May Have Many Consequences
posted by homunculus at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blogger who is friends with the doctor involved.

Although I like to pride myself on being a critical thinker and not buying into the Bush propaganda machine, in reality when Bushco tells me that Iran is 89 percent pure evil, by subconscious response has been to change my own internalized rating of Iran from, say, 8 percent negative to 10 percent negative. I didn't realize this was happening until I started following the election protests and reading students who fully prepared themselves to die when they left to protest, and reading the accounts of what happened to Westerners who were mistakenly arrested, etc. etc. So even though I have a stupid green avatar on twitter and my participation doesn't mean much, symbols are still important and this whole affair has opened my brain up in ways that are good. These protesters are changing the world, even if they ultimately fail.
posted by mecran01 at 9:18 AM on June 22, 2009


The Blogger referred to above.
posted by adamvasco at 9:35 AM on June 22, 2009


Not news, given the involvement of Western firms with China's Great Firewall, but still of interest: WSJ: Iran's Web Spying Aided by Western Technology.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:37 AM on June 22, 2009


While this is tragic I can't help but think that somewhere strings are being pulled. The reactions are real, but sniper fire? Martyrs are powerful things, I would hate to find out later on that CIA or some other organization aiding in the push of these events. I'm not a tin-foil hat type....not at all...just something about this, other than the tragic nature of her death...is unsettling. Just can't seem to pin it down until I see more examples of sniper fire from Iranian police.
posted by samsara at 9:41 AM on June 22, 2009


Or alternately, regimes are often very public about the atrocities they commit because in many cases it does, in fact, work to make many people duck and cover in their day-to-day life. Satrapi's Persepolis makes the argument that the government's repression successfully keeps Iranian liberalism at home and private. Her take is that the dire politics of Iran is a product of American and European meddling.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:54 AM on June 22, 2009


I'm not a tin-foil hat type

If you feel like you have to say that, you probably actually are a tin-foil hat type.
posted by empath at 10:09 AM on June 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I disagree with sonic meat machine's views in this thread, but damn, people here are really going overboard attacking him. I've been the guy with the minority opinion in MeFi threads; it's not fun, and it's not always easy to defend your POV if everyone else is throwing crap at you.

Can we not express a differing view in contentious threads without being told to shut up and all the rest?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:29 AM on June 22, 2009


While I think it's serious tin-foil hat territory to suppose that some CIA operative would go around shooting into crowds of Iranian protesters, there's more than ample reason to believe that the groundwork for the current "grassroots" political uprising in Iran was laid with the support of the US State Department working in conjunction with our intelligence agencies.
Back in 2007, ABC News reported that President George W. Bush had signed a secret "Presidential finding" authorizing the CIA to mount covert "black" operations to destabilize the Iranian government [cite 1, cite2].
These plans, according to current and former intelligence officials, also reportedly included:
"a coordinated campaign of propaganda broadcasts, placement of negative newspaper articles, and the manipulation of Iran's currency and international banking transactions."
Note that one of the most consistent themes in the US campaign of criticism against Ahmadinejad's administration has been to point out its economic failures. Perversely, these inside intelligence official reports indicate that at least one aspect of the US covert campaign against Ahmadinejad was to stoke economic problems within Iran, in order to bolster the case that Ahmadinejad was mishandling the nation's economy.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2009


saulgoodman When you witness first hand what governments like those of Iran, Venezuela or Cuba (never mind North Korea) do to their own economies, you rapidly come to the conclusion that the CIA wouldn't do a better job of ruining them.
posted by Skeptic at 10:43 AM on June 22, 2009


BBC Persia interview with Neda Soltan's fiance.

Regarding the earlier discussion as to her involvment with the demonstrations, some quotes from an English translation of the interview:

"About the day of the incident, Mr. Makan said: "When the clashes were occurring, Neda was far away from the demonstrations, she was in one of the side alleys near Amir Abad. Thirsty and tired or being cooped up for about an hour in the car in heavy traffic with her music instructor, she finally gets out of the car and, based on the pictures sent in by the people, armed forces in civilian clothes and the Basiji targeted and shot her in the heart."

Further...

"Mr. Makan also commented on fake pictures of videos claiming to be Neda at various sites:"I was looking at some sites including 'iReport'. There was a picture of a young woman with green signs from previous calm demonstrations and had claimed it was Neda before being shot. These pictures have no relation to the event. It seems that Mr. Mousavi's supporters are trying to portray Neda as one of his supporters. This is not so. Neda was incredibly close to me and she was never supportive of either two groups. Neda wanted freedom and freedom for all."


[via Nick Pitney]
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:56 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Note, Skeptic, that every country in your list operates under heavy economic sanctions and trade embargoes from the West.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:58 AM on June 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


When you witness first hand what governments like those of Iran, Venezuela or Cuba (never mind North Korea) do to their own economies, you rapidly come to the conclusion that the CIA wouldn't do a better job of ruining them.

But you are aware that the CIA has a history of ruining democratically elected governments, right (e.g., Iran, Chile, Nicaragua)? I thought this was pretty basic information.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:16 AM on June 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you feel like you have to say that, you probably actually are a tin-foil hat type.

Not really, the reason I said it is because it does seem a little out of field to speculate its staged, and I probably shouldn't speculate...I often mock dismiss the tin-foil hat crowd...anyway, I suppose I'll keep that thought/hunch to myself and opt to see how this pans out.
posted by samsara at 12:21 PM on June 22, 2009


What would "they" tell me that would convince me that India and the American South actually turned around because of a credible threat of force?

They would point out that the first time desegregation met with serious resistance, Little Rock Central High school was desegregated not by passive resistance or nonviolence but rather by the 101st Airborne.

As I point out to undergraduates, Eisenhower's choice here matters. He could have sent federal marshals. He could have sent a battalion of MPs. Instead, he sent the 101st-goddam-Airborne, serious bad-ass motherfuckers. Trained in next to nothing about policing or peacekeeping or making any sort of nice at all. Trained extensively in the gentle techique of "show up suddenly where you're massively outnumbered and kill all who stand against you until you are relieved or are all dead." Many of whom, at least at the NCO and officer level, probably had actually done so in western Europe.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:27 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman Please indicate me what "heavy economic sanctions and trade embargoes from the West" there are against Venezuela. As far as I know, there's only some limitations to arms trading from the US' side, and this for the altogether decent reason that arms delivered to Venezuela somehow seem to find their way to the nasties of the FARC, among others. And not even that blocked my own country, Spain, from delivering gunboats and military transport planes to Chavez (for good measure, we also delivered to Colombia).

Anyway, your entirely predictable answer completely misses my point. Of course I'm aware of the sanctions and CIA shenanigans towards those countries. Nevertheless, whatever damage those inept spooks may have caused pales by comparison with the self-inflicted damage caused by the sheer economic boneheadedness those governments tend to unleash on their subjects.

Now, of those countries I've only ever been to Cuba, but it's a good case study, if only because it's the model for Chavez, who in turn has more than inspired Imadickenejad. Now, take this anecdote:

I went cycling through Cuba with some friends. Cycling makes hungry, so, when we spotted this fish restaurant in a coastal town close to where the Castro's "Granma" made its fateful landing, we went in with the intention of having a seafood dinner.

There was no fish. None whatsoever. Only pork & rice. In a restaurant called "The Little Fish" in a seaside town by a sea teeming with life. What was the problem?

Well, in a conversation with a fisherman we got the explanation. Fishermen have to hand over most of their catch to the state food distribution network (for nearly worthless non-convertible Cuban pesos). They can keep a small portion for their own consumption, but there are no alternative (legitimate) distribution networks to which they could sell their catch instead. Because the price is capped, the folks in the state food distribution network have no economic incentives whatsoever to actually do the rather complex job of distributing such an inherently perishable merchandise as seafood. Result: most of the fish caught in Cuban waters is left to rot in badly refrigerated warehouses. Close to no fish ever reaches the official restaurants and stores. Not that you can't get good seafood in Cuba - indeed, I probably ate the best seafood in my life there - just not through official channels. Mercifully, the fishermen cheat, and some seafood finds its way into the black market, rather than rotting away in state warehouses.

We saw plenty of examples of such economic idiocy during our journey, and I couldn't avoid imagining some wannabe economic saboteur in Langley reading about the newest brilliant economic initiative by Castro and thinking:

"Dang! Why didn't we think of that before?"

So, does the CIA sabotage the economies of naughty countries? Perhaps, but they certainly can't even begin to match the damage the governments of some of those countries inflict on their own economies.
posted by Skeptic at 12:37 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Frank Capra's Death of a Loyalist Soldier?

Robert Capa – although it would've made a great movie if he were saved at the last minute by his guardian angel, Clarencio.

posted by RogerB at 12:43 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, Skeptic, but arguably the single force that more than any other has worked to isolate Cuba and to prevent outside influence from liberalizing its political institutions and economic systems has been the ongoing US policy of diplomatic isolation and economic sanction.

Look at what happened to the Soviet Union, once the US began to open up relations with Gorbachev; this shift in policy ultimately paved the way for Perestroika and led to the break up of the USSR.

The USSR was in a much better position economically and militarily to hold out against the liberalizing influence of the West (though arguably the sheer size of the nation may have worked against it). And yet, liberalize it did--but only after we began to normalize relations.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:57 PM on June 22, 2009


Justinian: "l33tpolicywonk: he's not saying that Gandhi or MLK threatened force, he's saying that other people presented a credible threat of force and made dealing with MLK and the peaceful protesters the better option for the folks in power."

I have a hard time accepting that Malcolm X (whose 'solutions' during the stage in which he accepted violence were segregationist) had as significant a role as MLK in the Civil Rights Movement. Civil disobedience + widespread images of protesters accepting violence nonviolently turned the tide against segregation.

The same could be said of Gandhi. There was no credible threat of force against the British; there couldn't possibly have been.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2009


The images from that video have been haunting me since I saw it this morning, I'll be thinking about something completely unrelated and my mind will conjure up an image of her staring at the camera and I'm completely unsettled all over again.

And that's why I feel that video like this is essential. A description would have left me saddened that a girl died, a picture would have given me a face and context, but seeing her transition from someone-who's-alive to someone-who's-not is powerful and gut-wrenching beyond words. It forces me to pay attention to a situation that, sitting in my office, playing on the internet, I wouldn't have given a lot of thought to otherwise.

I'm grateful for that. But I wish I could stop seeing it over and over when I close my eyes.
posted by quin at 1:17 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some things:
Force, and the threat of it is more than straightforward violence.
Foreign policy moves made by the U.S. can be very powerful, even, or especially the covert ones, but they're not the sole factor in the domestic success of any given country. Certainly the U.S. has had a lot to do with the overthrow of regimes (for good and ill), on the other hand one can delve into the tinfoil hat range attributing too much to the machinations of the CIA. I mean hell, they wanted to hit Castro as far back as '59, looks to me like the guy is going to die in bed.

Whether this specific video is 'authentic' or not, it's still true. Authoritarian governments kill dissidents. Been a fact of life for a long time.

"Had we not been so intentionally ignorant, so inhumanly callous to the Iranian people, ignoring their pleas for basic human rights, while arming and abetting their dictator, then perhaps the Iranian revolution wouldn't have gone down the radicalized rathole it did..."

I don't think there's any perhaps about it. But I'd have to say both sides of the equation were pretty stiff necked at the time. Iran was still moving towards stronger theocracy (perhaps in part because of the hyperprogressive (for that time and place) moves the Shah made - but my sympathy for outrage for allowing women to wear western style skirts is marginal) and in the U.S. the political situation, moves by OPEC and the cold war made it tough, such that even Carter had to endorse a hard line. Reagan's moves were obvious from there of course.
I resist casting this as a Gordian knot problem though. One risks eliciting a response from an Alexander type.
Still - this has been a long time coming in Iran. Yeah, the U.S. has had a hard on for that country, but their people have been pro-west, their demographics are radically changing, why can't the situation be exactly what it seems - legitimate outrage from the population to perceived injustice (valid or not) and an oppressive response by a dictatorial theocratic oligarchy.

Only real question is how to help (and that's been addressed above). Foreign policy is another matter. Looks like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation to me. I don't envy Obama.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:37 PM on June 22, 2009


The same could be said of Gandhi. There was no credible threat of force against the British; there couldn't possibly have been.

Are you kidding? That's a pretty significant ignorance of the history of British rule in India.
posted by Justinian at 2:39 PM on June 22, 2009


Neda, in a graphic photo, made the front page of the Wall Street Journal today among other major publications. I am not sure what effect that will have in Iran, but it's big news now in the West.
posted by caddis at 4:07 PM on June 22, 2009




So, here I sit at my computer keybaord, havinng witnessed all of this terrror and I want to know what I can Do. What can i do?
posted by longsleeves at 9:00 PM on June 22, 2009


A $3,000 bullet fee before they would release the body? Fucked. UP.
posted by heyho at 10:45 PM on June 22, 2009


What can i do?

Get in touch, get information, spread information to media outlets, continuously urge your elected officials to put the pressure on up the ladder to the UN to get those votes recounted, be in contact through the social network to obtain information and provide moral support, and above all, organize others to do the same.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:40 AM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Eurasia net thinks that Rafsanjani is about to make his move. The protest is on the streets but the power struggle is in Qom. There is still talk of a general strike, but Mousavi has not yet been arrested , which would definitely be another spark.
posted by adamvasco at 2:39 AM on June 23, 2009


Story about Neda on CNN.
posted by elfgirl at 7:51 PM on June 23, 2009




Unrest in Iran: Incident Statistics and Map for Protests, Arrests, and Deaths.
posted by adamvasco at 1:01 AM on June 24, 2009












persiankiwi hasn't posted in about 12 hours, when he posted a flurry of desperate posts. Godspeed to him.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:52 PM on June 24, 2009




Doctor who tried to save Neda responds to Iran propaganda.

Translation via HuffPo:
After my interview on June 25th, 2009, regarding my personal account of the brutal killing of Neda Agha Soltan, I read the news of my arrest warrant by the government of Iran.

As I mentioned in the interview, I was expecting such as action from a government, which is founded on lies and deceit. I was expecting them to deny my statements. This government, instead of bringing justice to the murders of this innocent girl and others and accepting their responsibilities, tries to blame individuals and organizations, which have done nothing wrong.

They have put pressure on my friends and family who have done nothing. They have harassed my father who is 70 years and a university professor.

I did what every human would have done in my situation. I tried to save a victim. When the government tried to cover up the details, I testified what I witnessed.

I have lived my life so that I would have no regret. I was one of the first physicians who went to Bam after the earthquake so that I could be near the victims who had no hope. However this time, this victim was not the victim of a natural disaster.

I am a writer and from my essays and stories, you will realize that I have always been a human rights advocate and I have paid the price.

I have always tired to live honestly and do not betray my principles.

I believe what I did regarding Neda was the right things. I believe that if I have to pay the price, so be it, but I reserve the right to defend my honor.

God is my witness that I told the truth.

This lie questions the entire principles of this government. A government which questions the events of WWII, claims that there is freedom of speech in Iran, claims that there is no censorship, states that there are no political prisoners and that each individual enjoys full rights including regarding their sex, religion and race.

In the past 20 days, the world has come to realize that these are false claims. I know that the world will not believe these new lies and know that this physician has do nothing except following his principles and coming to the help of people who need help and stating the truth.

Neda was not the only victim. Are all the other victims the result of Western conspiracy?

I am only a witness. Why are they pursuing the witness and not the killers? Is there enough bloodshed? Should I have been silent regarding this horrible crime? Is this the message that we want to send to the future generations?

I believe that all the citizens of the world will support me and thousands of other Iranians who have been beaten, murdered and imprisoned, in order to achieve freedom and join the rest of the free people.

I am proud of myself for being a part of this movement. I have done something that every honest human being would have done. This is my crime and this is why they are threatening me.
posted by homunculus at 8:47 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]




I think I'm okay with the lull in Iran attention right now to take the pressure of public debate - at least here in the US - off of what the Obama administration should or shouldn't be doing. I have no doubt that the revolution in Iran will progress powerfully in the quiet, if nothing else, through a series of strikes that escalate over the next few months. Meanwhile, the US can assist in the background by putting diplomatic pressure on other countries with a credible voice in Iran.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:06 PM on July 3, 2009








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