Letter from a Tehran Jail

A response to Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett


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Letter from a Tehran Jail
by patrickdisney
07-Jan-2010
 

In the New York Times yesterday (Jan 6), Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett–both of whom I deeply respect–argued that the protesters in Iran make up a small, demographically isolated minority of Iranian society, and their activities therefore have very little chance of enacting real, substantive change in Iran’s political system. For evidence of the protest movement’s weakness, the authors pose three questions:

“First, what does this opposition want? Second, who leads it? Third, through what process will this opposition displace the government in Tehran?”

Needless to say, none of the potential answers proves satisfactory.

The Leveretts are entitled to their opinion, sacrilegious as it may be to some. But in downplaying and even denigrating the activities of Iran’s dissidents, I fear that they will have justified the accusations that are sure to be flung their way–accusations of acting as apologists for the government, of disparaging a courageous and non-violent protest movement, and even of siding with Iran’s violent regime.

I am reminded of the Letter from a Birmingham Jailthe famous essay by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in which he decries the so-called “white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice,” more concerned with the negative peace of the status quo than with bringing about that which is right through urgent action. By action, of course, Dr. King was talking about civil disobedience.

Like the “white moderate” in King’s letter, the Leveretts do not dare pin their hopes on seismic changes righting Iran’s political injustices. Instead, they recommend the US acknowledge the movement’s futility, embrace Iran’s current leaders, and secure America’s strategic interests through rapprochement. But their cynicism, which dismisses a popular movement without a manifesto, charismatic leader, or strategic playbook, ignores the plain and simple fact that repressive governments are inherently unsustainable.

People who have awoken to the dawn of a freer and more open society cannot be pushed backwards and kept permanently in darkness. Like Dr. King, the Iranians who take part in the protest movement–even if they are a minority–engage in civil disobedience in order to “bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive” in their society. Iranians have not always lived in fear of roaming militias or cyber-surveillance teams watching their every move online; nor have they been closed off to alternatives structures that value individual liberty over ideological fealty.

“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever,” King said.

The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.

In the case of Iranians, the “something within” is the long and arduous journey toward a democratic system of governance–a journey that began with the Constitutional Revolution in 1906, caught a fleeting glimpse of success with Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953, erupted chaotically in 1979, and has been brewing once again since June 12. The “something without” is their forebears: Gandhi, Mandela, King, and Walesa.

I agree with the Leveretts’ conclusion that Iran’s government is not about to crumble under the pressure of the protest movement. But I believe now more than ever before that democratic change in Iran is bound to occur eventually. The events of the past seven months have revealed a conflict embedded deep within Iran that will not go away. It might be suppressed for awhile, but it won’t be extinguished. The struggle for rights will continue, and, to paraphrase President Obama on the night of his election, the Iranian people will “put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.”


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INFIDEL

YMJ - Mubarak not a puppet, neither was Saddam.

by INFIDEL on

 

Mubarak is not a puppet. The US has influence no doubt, much like the saudis do and other countriies and egypt has influence too. He acted against America when it suited him and now working with them suits him and his country's interests as he sees it. The two billion dollars in aid don't translate into the egyptions doing whatever the US wants, as history has shown. What they do and people percieve as being puppets, like supporting peace with israel, is in their country's and the region's interests. 

 

Look at syria, barely any ties with the US, yet it's one of the worst arab dictatorshops. Why? That's the society and government the syrian people built, as it is the case with all countrys regardless of 'foreign interference' (look at japan, nukes were dropped on them for haven's sake).

 

The egyption people can easily protest and shake the regime and the US if they wanted, but too many support it or don't care or don't have the guts to face it, and they're paying for it. Though if it does become a democracy they'll just elect islamists probably and go down the gutter for several decades or generations, or forever even. I'm not sure if the Iran lesson is something they'll pay attention to. Maybe just their elites.  

 

And Saddam? LOL. Again the US had coinciding interests with him in deterring revolutionary Iran, but you'd have to be a moron to think the US controlled him. Or a conspiracy nut. 

 

This whole 'puppet regimes' canard is perpetuated by zealots like anti-american leftists or islamists because it fits with their self-righteoues black and white world view, and that's it. 

It seems like you're one of those people, so I'm not sure why I'm wasting time typing this, especially with this thread being too old already, except to relieve stress that your ignorance caused me. So there, I feel better now. Hooray.  

 

 


INFIDEL

YMJ - Mubarak not a puppet, neither was Saddam.

by INFIDEL on

 

Mubarak is not a puppet. The US has influence no doubt, much like the saudis do and other countriies and egypt has influence too. He acted against America when it suited him and now working with them suits him and his country's interests as he sees it. The two billion dollars in aid don't translate into the egyptions doing whatever the US wants, as history has shown. What they do and people percieve as being puppets, like supporting peace with israel, is in their country's and the region's interests. 

 

Look at syria, barely any ties with the US, yet it's one of the worst arab dictatorshops. Why? That's the society and government the syrian people built, as it is the case with all countrys regardless of 'foreign interference' (look at japan, nukes were dropped on them for haven's sake).

 

The egyption people can easily protest and shake the regime and the US if they wanted, but too many support it or don't care or don't have the guts to face it, and they're paying for it. Though if it does become a democracy they'll just elect islamists probably and go down the gutter for several decades or generations, or forever even. I'm not sure if the Iran lesson is something they'll pay attention to. Maybe just their elites.  

 

And Saddam? LOL. Again the US had coinciding interests with him in deterring revolutionary Iran, but you'd have to be a moron to think the US controlled him. Or a conspiracy nut. 

 

This whole 'puppet regimes' canard is perpetuated by zealots like anti-american leftists or islamists because it fits with their self-righteoues black and white world view, and that's it. 

It seems like you're one of those people, so I'm not sure why I'm wasting time typing this, especially with this thread being too old already, except to relieve stress that your ignorance caused me. So there, I feel better now. Hooray.  

 

 

 


YMJ

Mubarak gets 99% votes too, and so did Saddam, but..

by YMJ on

They are both American PUPPETS..

 

Ahmadinejad is not an American puppet and has HUGE support in Iran, i saw it when i visited Iran and traveled all summer long!

What you said about muslims is not true; right now in the Muslim world the most popular leader is Seyed Hassan Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad. BBC has even reported on this!  The reason is clear, because they stand up for muslims when the likes of Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, the emirates, Mubarak, and the Jordanian puppet, have dont nothing and are complacent in the crimes the zionist regime commits in palestine!


babak pirouzian

To YMJ: Saddam too gathered 98% of the votes in every election

by babak pirouzian on

 and I hope you are intelligent enough to know the reason(s)' the same reasons applies in Iranian elections. If you and your big boss are brave enough, call for a referendum!!!!!!!!!! ( a big bonus for you : TV, RADIO, KAYHAN and all similar papers, and the biggest bonus of all;  thousands of mosques with thousands "moftkhor" as Mollah who are cheating, robbing simple villagers every day of the year, all for your benefit/advantage, but call the God damned referendum)     Shiat Islam as you said is about 130 million, but None Shiat consist of 1.4 Billion, ( read correctly with B) and over one Billion hate Shiat because of none senses regurgitating and spreading lies and promoting superstitious materials  like: Medi the12th imam, the absent guy is coming, Chamkaran scenario, Ali, Hassan , Hossain and all other garbage are feeding Iranian last couple of centuries. Your arguments may have some buyers in some mosque, but not here. Close you shop and move somewhere else, no buyer here.    

Cost-of-Progress

You proved nothing

by Cost-of-Progress on

1. By regime saying, or your saying, does not make it the truth - so keep saying.

2. Of course mousavi is for the establishment, What self respecting akhund wouldn't be. That's the PROBLEM haji.

3.You're the one dodging the main issues such as your mullah masters sucking my ancestoral land's resources empty and lining their filthy pockets.

Khejalt ham khob cheesiye baba.. 

____________________

IRAN BEFORE ISLAM  ---- SOON

____________________


Anonymouse

YMJ is Shah Gholam! Who were the ones before Shah Gholam?!

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred.


YMJ

Again less sensationalism and rhetoric...

by YMJ on

You said that the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC government does not haave support. I proved the contrary by stating that 85% of the population voted and they voted for revoloutionary candidates which are part of the government.

 Please stop trying to drag on an argument, its a waste of time.

 

Mousavi was a former prime minsiter and has said numerous times he is loyal to the velyat faghi and Immam Khomeini.

Stop trying to repersent it as otherwise.


Cost-of-Progress

Revolution derailing?

by Cost-of-Progress on

Of course. It derailed even before it left the station in 1979 with your imam khomeini. It derailed because the Brits, the designers of your so called revolution wanted it that way; to throw us back centuries using brainwashed morons like you - and your beloved religion and assbackward mentality.

Gop ahead call me a  zionist. it's comical. Oh, and this bit you said:

"The borders iran lies in today are artificial and the only way for Iran to be able to have influence beyond its ARTIFICIAL borders and to its natural borders.. is through Islam."

Who're you kidding? The kingdom of reesh-o pashm could give a rats ass about iran. it is Islam they care about and lining their pockets with iran oil money so they could purchase Arab "allies".

Shame on you people.

BTW, isn't hard to switch between all these different usernames?

____________________

IRAN BEFORE ISLAM  ---------   FOREVER

____________________


YMJ

85% did vote.. no one is questioning this..

by YMJ on

Do you even know how Moussavi came on the scene?

His campaign line was "the prime minsiter during 8 years of war and loyal to Immam Khomeini"

He constantly said that he wants to continue the revoloution in Imam Khomenies path and that he is afraid the Revoloution is derailing. This was his CONSTANT campaign theme.

 That is just Moussavi;

Rezai was a IRGC Commander

Karroubi was a majlis speaker and a well known part of the revoloution.

 The borders iran lies in today are artificial and the only way for Iran to be able to have influence beyond its ARTIFICIAL borders and to its natural borders.. is through Islam.

There are over 130 million shiite muslims.


Cost-of-Progress

Suppose that 85% voted

by Cost-of-Progress on

First off, that does not mean they support the regime of the reesh-o pashm. They are simply voting hoping for things to get better - they thought that, at least.

Second, Anyone - I mean anyone - who believes relgion and governance can co-exist is not only ill-informed, but naive and ignorant.

Religion belongs to church, mosque or synagogue and home. PERIOD. 

Religion and politics MUST be kept a million miles apart or you'll have what we have today in our Iran. 

____________________

IRAN, BEFORE ISLAM  ------------ MIFAHMI??

____________________


hamsade ghadimi

ymj jan

by hamsade ghadimi on

i don't know who told you that if you're well-informed, then you're an iri goon.  please calm down, i totally agree with you (i think).  in fact, the majority of iri goons are illiterate, chagookesh and obash.  so we should definitely dispel that myth.  you're also absolutely correct when you say that iri reported that 85% of iranian population voted; and therefore, they all support the velayat faghih.  iri also reported that there were no significant irregularities and the election process (candidate selection, campaign, results) were fair.

i'm glad that you clarified that "killing, torturing, and raping doesn't have to do with anything."  that's just a big relief to me as i can further limit what i can write and that would make it all so much simpler.

by the way, propogate is not the verb for dissemanating propaganda. 


Anonymouse

'Claiming' to be "well informed" = sign of weakness

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred.


YMJ

Why is anyone who is well informed an IRI Goon?

by YMJ on

85% of the people voted for 4 candidates from within the Islamic Republic of Iran government

 Clearly what the Leverettes wrote is more accurate;

they asked a simple question, who are the candidates?

1) Former IRGC Commander

2) Former hardliner and PM during 8 years of war

3) Former (two times)Majlis Speaker

4) President Ahmadinejad

 

SO what are you talking about?

"RAPING, TORTURING? KILING?" what does this have to do with anything?

This is rhetoric rather than proper dicussion. SO its evident that you are here to propagate.

I think you have multiple accounts and just spam a certian agenda on here. Its sad.

 


Darius Kadivar

actually "Leverett" means "Doggy Style" in French ;0))

by Darius Kadivar on

Known as "Doggy Style" ...

see definition here

And what it looks like :

http://media.notrefamille.com/images/amour-sexo/kamasutra/484x320/la-levrette-o9253.jpg

Another Good Reason not to trust them.

LOL


Cost-of-Progress

Zionists Unlimited

by Cost-of-Progress on

Yeah yeah, everyone who disagrees with velaayet vaghih is zionist....what a joke.

85% ha? What percentage of the 85% do you think is killing, raping, torturing the 15%??? 

____________________

IRAN, BEFORE ISLAM 

____________________


Anonymous Observer

YMJ a/k/a Mehdi, a/ka/....

by Anonymous Observer on

is there anyone on this site aside from you and Jaleho who is not a Zionist? :-)

BTW, aren't you late for your junior high class?   


YMJ

I support an INDEPENDENT Iran!

by YMJ on

You dont...

 Regardless, the Leverett article is more accurate then the American, UK and zionist propangada that you'r reading.

 IRI and its supporters are your enemy? over 85% of the population of Iran is your enemy then.

You'r defenitly a zionist then...


babak pirouzian

ymj: you are in denial, IRI and it's supporters are my enemy

by babak pirouzian on

You said" I have read both and Leverette's article is more acurate..." ( Milani's vs Leverette's)

If you belive that Kayhan of Shariatmadari is acurate, which is almost the same copy/paste of Leverette's article then your posturing and your allegience to the regime is confirmed and for me who belive IRI is one of the most brutal, barbaric  ignorant, unelected regime ever existed in our history, where they use religion as pretex for their murderous advancement inorder to stay in power, there is no need for more dialouge in this subject. IRI and it's supporters are my enemy and they are not considered Iranain.    


YMJ

I have read both and Leverette's article is more acurate...

by YMJ on

The leverette article is actually more accurate then other articles i have read regarding the situation in Iran. People are attacking them and are trying to silence them from speaking the realities. Similar to how the US government was silencing anyone who talked differently about WMD's in Iraq (which never existed)

 The reality is that there is a media war and a covert operation going on to persuade public opinion.

The fact that people are attacking the Leverettes by trying to say that the ; "article is very similar if not the same to Shariatmadari of Kayhan and other ruthless regime thugs"; is ignorant.

"ruthless regime thugs" is a negative portrayal, which is just a tactic to create a negative picture. The western media has been engaged in portraying Iran and it's government as "ruthless thugs", and you have bought into it, probably because their media campaing is so strong. US government has allocated 400 million dollars for exactly doing this and creating discord among Iranians and their government.

Now that someone has actually written a factual article, like the Leverettes', they go under heavy criticism. Just because they want to silence them and continue this "negative imagery campaign" against the elected Iranian government.

 


babak pirouzian

to YMJ: Leverettes copies articles posted in Kayhan/Basij

by babak pirouzian on

Leverettes and his wife call themselves so called reaserchers and achademics, however their op-ed ideas in this article is very similar if not the same to Shariatmadari of Kayhan and other ruthless regime thugs.

I am sure you are very familiar with situation in Iran, however read the Abbass Milani's response, hope that make you more aware about facts what is going on in Iran.

http://www.tnr.com/article/world/the-state-the-opposition-strong


YMJ

Interesting

by YMJ on

I've read their(Leverett) article and i find it the most reasonable article. Unlike other articles which fully propagate the same rhetoric without asking any meaningfull questions.

I'm surprised that they are being attacked left and right by people who have no idea what is happening inside Iran and dont know (or refuse to mention) the interference of America through their vast media networks and political influence.


minadadvar

Anahid Jan

by minadadvar on

Thanks.  I never went away.  I have been checking the news/blogs on a daily basis.  However, no time/energy for participating.

Very disappointed in N.Y.Times. 


mannya2001

Seven Questions to Opposition- Are U pinning ur hope on LUCK?

by mannya2001 on

I just had an epiphiny.  What exactly are you folks waiting for?

Are you waiting for 22 Bahman to arrive to see what the government and opposition do?

 Or are you secretly wishing that some of the arrested get executed so perhaps some folks get in the street?

Or are you secretly wishing that one of the leaders of the opposition: Moussavi, Karroubi or Khatami gets killed so you can see people in the street?

Or are just HOPING/ WISHING some crazy thing happens that you can't even think of, that will cause some mass hysteria/revolt or whatever?

 Or are you thinking, "Oh well, there are people in the opposition that are planning things, they know what they're doing, I don't need to worry- yep, they will take care of the movement just like my parents took care of me when I was 9"?

 

EXACTLY, what are you waiting on????


babak pirouzian

a message to Leverette:

by babak pirouzian on

As a concern Iranian following and involved in detail with daily events in Iran, I find Leverettes' article ignorant, un thoughtful, un-researched and biased toward one of the most brutal dictatorial regime in Iranian history, no matter how the regime tries to disguise and sugar quote their agenda under the name of religion/Islam. Iranian people are awake now, the genie is out of the bottle and situation is not going back to pre-election anymore. The Ayatollah's regime as shown last thirty years, is a regime that kills it's own citizen for simply asking "where is my vote", a regime that torture and rapes it's own citizen to get confession, even if for a false confession is not trust worthy. A regime full of lies and deceit is not a reliable, is not legitimate partner for any type of negotiation; this is the fact. The Islamic Republic is not Islamic nor is Republic.     My message to Leverette is, regardless what happens from now on, the political arena in Iran is not going to be the same as it was before, the regime knows that and soon we shall see defections from all walk of life, those who are fed handsomely last 30 years, and those who attend state sponsored for gatherings and, general strike will hit them soon. I also suggest them instead of earning a quick fifteen minutes fame, which I am sure they do not need it, think deeper, search and research more academically and get reliable sources/facts together, before they loose their earned credibility forever. Changing the regime to a just, democratic, secular, equal, free and transparent regime, will resolve or at least help to a minimize reduce tension in following areas: Nuclear and threat of nuclear bomb issues; The turmoil/tensions in the region, and Middle East, name it Hezbollah, Hamas, AlQuaed, Taliban, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan; smuggling in Persian Gulf, traffic and flow of narcotic from Afghanistan to name a few.        Common sense and history dictate the facts that the Ayatollah's suppressive, unelected regime is not going to last long, and Iranian People will remember who help them during the hard time and who were/are their enemies.             

Anahid Hojjati

Great to see you back minadadvar

by Anahid Hojjati on

 

great to have you back on IC.  You are absolutely correct where you write:"However,  this editorial was so inaccurate  and biased that a reputable news-paper like N.Y.T should not have published this piece of trash without some sort of clarification."


minadadvar

Dear Patriot

by minadadvar on

Thanks.  

You are right when you say " a good medium should help........"  However,  this editorial was so inaccurate  and biased that a reputable news-paper like N.Y.T should not have published this piece of trash without some sort of clarification.  This just shows you that anyone can be bought.     


Patriot

minadadvar

by Patriot on

Good to see you back. The Leverettes' article has been widely criticized. They are completely out of touch with Iran and their arguments show this. Don't blame the New York Times.  A good medium should help different voices be heard.  It is these phony experts we should all see for their shallowness and lack of touch with reality.  When I call them stupid, I am giving the Leverettes the benefit of the doubt that they are not serving as IRI's mouthpieces.


minadadvar

Mr Leverette: Must have been on Crack

by minadadvar on

I lost all respect for N.Y. Times.  And will no longer purchase what,  I now, consider "garbage".  Mr Leverette is either paid off or on crack, while writing this piece of trash.


Anahid Hojjati

To Pendar Neek: I also have consensus with vildemose and divaneh

by Anahid Hojjati on

 

I second comments by vildemose and divaneh.  It is simply wrong to use number of demonstrators when they are faced wih such grave consequences.  Still this movement has brought many people into street.  I just had dinner with a friend who visited Iran few weeks ago.  She was worried for a friend of her, a woman in her mid forties who participates in demonstrations. So when middle aged mothers risk eveything to go and demonstrate against IRI, you know the degree of dissatisfaction amongst Iranians in Iran.  By the way,Pendar Neek writes "an incompetent opposition abroad".  The most incompetent that i see is IRI since even with rising oil prices and all educated Iranians and a young work force, they have managed to make such a mess out of country.  I know so many graduates of universities such as Amir kabeer, Fani, Sharif and other leading universities who have been leaving Iran in last couple decades.  If IRI were competent, these people would have stayed so it is IRI which is the most incompetent. 


divaneh

We have total consensus Pendar Neek

by divaneh on

There is in fact nothing but consensus between me, vildemose and the rest of those who care about Iran and Iranian. I am now beginning to understand why your comments were taken so negatively by other contributors. You are just a negative person and trying to find a gap where there isn’t one. You are indeed not interested in the future of this movement and seem to do your best to cast doubt on it and discourage people.


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