(Many folks are upset with Twitter right now, and I get it, we don’t like everything that happens there.
But, to my way of thinking, avoiding Twitter because of what some despicable people do there is much like avoiding the English language because Charlie Manson and David Duke use it.
This column tells of my introduction to Twitter during the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009. The immediacy and poignancy of the voice of the young people tweeting there connected me to the event in a way that I had heretofore never imagined I could be. And isn’t that the purpose of any medium?)
Iran: The Bird is on the Wing.
For those of us who got hooked early on news from Iran the mainstream media was criminally complacent. The whole of the weekend of June 13th and 14th, with the streets of Tehran filling with protesters of the phony presidential vote, they completely missed the story; so we gathered like tribes at the virtual campfires of Daily Kos or Andrew Sullivan’s blog “The Daily Dish” to anxiously follow the furtive “tweets” from cell phones, to watch over the brave young people for whom we feared.
Thousands of photographs flowed from our monitors, beautiful young people, green ribbons streaming from their wrists, hands upraised in clenched fist or flashing the iconic “V”, simultaneously making our hearts soar with their courage and quake from fear and anxiety for their safety.
For we knew they defied monsters.
Their words, delivered in real time staccato bursts from unknown streets and plazas like dispatches fleeing a war zone stirred parental or familial concern – like troubling phone messages from loved ones we could not return…
“The riot police and paramilitaries are beating people quite badly by baton …Tabriz today” – June 20th
“I hope Reza is OK where ever he is. nobody knows where Intel took him. they should already called his family.” June 20th
“they wear black riot police outfit, brown skin and shouting to people in Arabic & hit everybody they see.” June 20th
We marveled at video clips of young people defying baton wielding security goons on motocross bikes who dressed like armor clad extras from a bad “B” movie and sometimes shot pistols into the crowds.
One such shot killed a young woman – they say her name was Neda – her father lowered her to the ground and keened in anguish for her not to fear… “Neda do not be afraid!, stay alive! , stay , stay here, Neda!, dont go, dont go!!…” as blood from her bullet-rent heart gushed through her now stilled mouth and covered her sainted face.
To the men who set dogs of war upon these children and grandchildren of mine I say you may be comfortable in positions of power for a while longer, you may push a rook or capture a pawn, delay the moment of your ruin, but make no mistake, justice lies wait for us all. God is indeed great, monsters, but at times maddeningly deliberate.
And to the young people of Iran, who make up two thirds of seventy millions, I say this American has heard your cries for freedom along with millions of others – including some whom cynically play politics with our affection for you, but only months before would have rashly prevented rapprochement from being possible.
Be careful my children, there is much to overcome. But as a poet from the near Middle-East once wrote:
Come, fill the Cup, and in this fire of Spring
Your Winter garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter–and the Bird is on the Wing.