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Michael Ubaldi, July 9, 2003.

You needn't say a word, Iran. Your hearts alone trumpet across the earth.

(Click for the full page and proper composition)

Michael Ubaldi, July 3, 2003.

Nonmilitarily, they don't get any better than this:

The U.S. government plans to launch a Persian-language television newscast in Iran on Sunday as the Bush administration continues to encourage internal dissent against the ruling clerics, administration officials said yesterday.

The Voice of America program, to be announced today, will be sent from Washington by satellite to avoid the jamming that has interfered with U.S. government radio programs aimed at the Iranian people.

The program, "News and Views," will include headlines, a report about the United Nations and a cultural package. It will air nightly from 9:30 to 10 p.m., Tehran time. VOA said a network of Iranian stringers will supply news from within the country.

People of Iran, take heed and take heart: we hear you.

Michael Ubaldi, June 17, 2003.

If only Billy Corgan knew how ironically wistful his Mellon Collie rock-pop single really was. Yes, it's from a socialist organization, but they've made their point. Poignantly.

(From IranianGirl.)

Michael Ubaldi, June 17, 2003.

The battle for Iranian liberty continues. From Koorosh Afshar:

Westerners may have difficulty imagining what these people are like. In fact, it's quite easy: Simply remember the Taliban. The only difference is that they don't wear Afghani clothes.

In the past few nights, my peers and our mothers and sisters have poured into the streets of our city. Some of us have been arrested and many have been injured by the ruthless attacks of Ansaar-e-Hezbollah. These people attack whomever they see in the streets with tear gas, sticks, iron chains, swords, daggers, and, for the last two nights, guns.

It has become almost routine for us to go out at night, chant slogans, get beaten, lose some of our friends, see our sisters beaten, and then return home.


[W]e will continue to shed our blood, if that is what it takes to obtain the freedom we seek.

Read Koorosh's latest. And say a prayer for his people.

Michael Ubaldi, June 17, 2003.

An online student movement. Who'd have thought?

Michael Ubaldi, June 16, 2003.

Joel Mowbray has the latest on the view of Tehran from Washington.

He applauds Bush's departure from sickening, realpolitik normalcy, with his supportive statement this weekend - also noting that the president had expressed similar sentiments nearly one year ago. And guess what? State opposed the encouragement for Iranian democrats then, and still hasn't made up its mind.

Michael Ubaldi, June 16, 2003.

Andrew Sullivan, in his latest word on the rumblings of liberty down around Tehran's way:

I wonder if there's a way the blogosphere can help. Maybe some kind of "Freedom in Iran Day," where we all pledge to write about the struggle, link to Persian and Iranian websites and blogs, and generally send out a webby gesture of solidarity. This revolution may not be televised. But it sure will be blogged.

I offer my contribution: an oldie but goodie. And I'll keep working on the pithily uplifting observations as secondhand information moves down the pipeline.

Michael Ubaldi, June 15, 2003.

A few days ago I implored the president to recognize the Iranian ambition for freedom. It looks as if people on my wavelength got their own message through to the White House:

President Bush on Sunday lent his support to pro-democracy demonstrators in Iran, calling their protests a positive step on the road to freedom.

"This is the beginning of people expressing themselves toward a free Iran which I think is positive," Bush said in Kennebunkport where he is spending a long weekend.

Now, "positive" may seem like a silly, no-brainer truism - but then you've got to remind yourself what the State Department has been saying for the past thirty years. First, the country was a lost cause if the Shah couldn't return. Then it was assumed better off as a punching bag for Saddam Hussein. Years later, when Tehran's mullahs apparently took a night class on public relations and contrived a grand gesture to republicanism, the State Department was delighted. Time to "engage"! Revolts against the Islamist mullahs meant chaos - stability, was the key, and if it came through freedom, fine; if not, well, "those kinds of people" weren't meant for it anyway. No, instead, the United States was to adopt a policy of "engagement" with the "reformists."

Unfortunately, so-called reformists like Mohammed Khatami are nothing more than smiling faces slapped onto the same terror-supporting executioners.

And in the aftermath of September 11th, Afghanistan and Iraq, no one's interests are served by fearing how the Near East's resident autocrats might react if the West begins to encourage the region's population to displace those who unjustly rule and confine them - "No, no, really, we're quite envious of a command market, show trials and state-run media. As you were."

President Bush has tacitly acknowledged this tradition, rejected it, and has grabbed Tehran's attention:

Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of "flagrant interference in Iran's internal affairs" and said the significance of the protests was being deliberately overstated by U.S. officials.

Pay no attention to the massive, cross-class riot behind the curtain! The Mullahs were in trouble before Bush spoke. Now that the president has begun to alter the landscape - indeed, perhaps the administration will begin to close in on the second member of the Axis of Evil - the Mullahs know that the end is in sight.

Which means, of course, that free living may begin soon for Iranians.

Michael Ubaldi, June 12, 2003.

The youth of Iran - more than two-thirds of that country's population - want to be free and, in the spirit of America, seek to attain it through an escalating revolution:

Iran's supreme leader raised the possibility of a harsh crackdown Thursday after two days of pro-reform demonstrations during which hundreds of increasingly bold young people have gone so far as to call for his death. The last two days have seen the largest demonstrations against Iran's political leadership in six months. Among the youth in particular, frustration with the regime has grown stronger than fear of arrest or of the hard-liners' well-established reputation for brutality.

Indeed, they do. From Koorosh Afshar, pseudonym for an Iranian democrat student:

Today, however, despite our despair, we have found hope. Hope among ourselves. Hope in our numbers. Hope in the fact that world seems to finally be caring. Hope in the fact that we may at last have a chance against the mullahs' rule.

Yet, we are nervous. Nervous of the endless debate among your opinion-makers: Shall we, or shall we not listen to the Iranian people? Is their discontent real or is it not? Should we engage moderate Islamists or should we not? Axis or no Axis?

Listen to our story. It is the story of life. It is the story of liberty. It is the story of the unalienable right to pursue happiness. It is the dream that made America, America. We have been deprived of the very basic rights which you take for granted every day in your free world.

We, too, want and deserve the freedom to dress. The freedom to speak. The freedom to assemble. The freedom to love and the freedom to dream.

We do not need military intervention in Iran. We do not need clandestine operations either. We need nothing but your resolve. Lend us a hand and we will take care of the rest. How, you ask? Simple: Do not deal with our mullahs.

It isn't only America's children that deserve to dream.

It is comforting to know that Iranians do not believe they require military aid. While I am wary of the ruthless power wielded by an established government and the inability of a popular revolt to maintain itself in the kind of "first months" as experienced in Iraq, that the revolution itself is confident of its ability to work under the warm embrace of the West is no small observation.

They will, nevertheless, need acknowledgment from the West and, more specifically, the White House. Bush has been no enemy of Iranian democracy - but he must loudly declare himself its friend and ally. By all means, Mr. President, Iran is a four-letter word you can acceptably utter from time to time.

Michael Ubaldi, May 13, 2003.

I didn't have a chance yesterday to direct your attention to Stanley Kurtz's powerful essay that addresses Bill Bennett but expounds much more deeply on conscience, morality and behavior between the relativist sensualists and absolutist traditionalists:

From a traditional religious perspective, humans strive to create a community based on shared moral standards. Conscious of his own weakness, an individual enters a community and places himself under the authority of its moral norms. He knows that both he and others will at times fail to meet those norms. Yet a refusal to articulate and impose moral requirements on himself and others would be an betrayal of the community itself. It would, so to speak, be unbrotherly.

The aesthete, on the other hand, is first and foremost an individual. He substitutes personal expression for moral judgment. To the aesthete, the moralist's judgments are oppressive attempts to coerce creativity and stifle the inner self. For the aesthete, music, sex, even drugs, are extensions and revelations of his spiritual self.

For the traditional moral man, on the other hand, the aesthete's refusal to make judgments is tantamount to withdrawal from the community. Moral man sees the spiritualized pleasures of the aesthete as a form of idolatry an attempt to turn all that is selfish in man into a substitute for God. In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom argued brilliantly that American pop music is, at root, a sophisticated masturbation fantasy. Bloom was right. But from the perspective of the aesthete, spiritual satisfaction comes precisely from the elaboration and contemplation of his pleasures. That is why popular music holds an almost religious significance for many Americans. (By the way, for all his condemnation of vicious song lyrics, William Bennett distanced himself from Allan Bloom's sharpest criticisms of popular music.)

The spiritualization of pleasure in popular culture is often shallow and dangerous. Yet that is not to entirely deny the worth of expressive individualism, which can take higher forms. In modern democracy, the tension between shared moral standards and free self-expression is profound and ineradicable.

Incidentally, I've shared the disposition that a preponderance of American pop music endlessly, repetitively orbits around physical love - listened to beyond small doses, the lovey-dovey stuff bores me to tears.

And - this is ancillary, to say the least - Kurtz offers up the chorus for a late-90s Sugar Ray song - I caught the song's amusing roller-derby video back in college, walking by a friend's television playing MTV. Though the subject matter is fluffy, brown sugar, the lyrics are compelling; no fountain-mountain-hand-stand-heart-start nursery-rhymes. How many rock stars know what a four-post bed is? That song, for better or worse, will outlast both its decade and Sugar Ray.

In any case, read the article.