Wednesday, June 17, 2009

American, Canadian, and French media on Iran

Sorry to keep yammering on about Iran, but I think the main rule of blogging is to write about crap that you find interesting, and I find this interesting.

Joe Klein has a sort of softball column up at Time in which he castigates John McCain for being a know-nothing about Iran; basically picking low-hanging fruit. But I found this (where he's castigating someone else) interesting:
"...comparing Iran in 2009 to the Soviet Union of the 1980's which, of course, is completely ridiculous. I visited Russia back in the day and I've now visited Iran twice. There is no comparison. The Soviet Union was the most repressive place I've ever been; its residents lived in constant terror. I'll never forget my first translator in Moscow telling me that his parents had trained him never to smile in public--it could easily be misinterpreted and then he'd be off to the Gulag. There was no internet in those days, no cellphones, no facebook or twitter."
This is the rub to the new technology, isn't it? It's a lot harder to be a totalitarian than it used to be. The flipside of the ever-present video surveilance is an equally ever-present digital resistance. Of course, the problem is that actual resistance takes time and attention, which Internet addicts tend to lack.

Most blogs I read are criticizing the American Mainstream Media for "dropping the ball" on Tehran. I've noticed that they're all focusing on CNN here; it's not that Fox News and MSNBC have done better- they haven't, but nobody takes them seriously anyway. CNN has been a disappointment. Of course, I don't think CNN has any foreign bureau left, aside from Christiane Amanpour. They have her in a hotel in Tehran, where she grew up, but the press is under lock and key in Iran. It might be asking too much for her to get shot for the sake of Lou Dobbs.

In Canada, meanwhile, the news media has been completely abysmal, although we do have our own election crisis going on. The Liberals and NDP are threatening to call for another election and nobody wants to be bothered to vote again. Canucks can be expected to march in the streets ere long holding signs reading, "No, seriously, our votes don't matter, okay?"

The French media is, as usual, fired up about the protests. Actually, they're more fired up than the US or Canadian media. Le Monde has an editorial from an Iranian expert at the Sorbonne who writes:
"Il ne faut ni se réjouir ni se lamenter : la République islamique, cet oxymore politique invraisemblable, vient de signer sa propre condamnation. Prise dans la contradiction de ses fondements démocratiques et de sa superstructure théocratique, elle n'a pu assumer les conséquences du feu d'artifice citoyen que fut la dernière campagne présidentielle."
Basically, the rough translation of this is, "A democratic Republic with a theocratic superstructure??? Ha! Impossible!" And then the writer snorts derisively (something my French grandfather was famous for doing) and takes an agitated drag on his cigarette (something his wife was famous for doing). I would imagine the French will soon march in the streets in solidarity, as well they should. But, we are approaching the summer vacation months, so who can say?


Min said...

I've been following the Huffington Post coverage. They have live blogging from Iran with Twitter.

rufus said...

Yeah, that's right! I heard about that last night and forgot to check up on it.

clairev said...

dude, the "election crisis" was nothing but political posturing on the side of the minority gov't to force the conservatives to do something useful.

and the reason no one wants it in the summer is because the house isn't even in session AND we've already voted twice in the past few years. we're exhausted and I don't hesitate to say: bored.

it's not that our votes don't matter...when you start actually voting to elect canadian officials and get a better understanding of what it's like, then you can make comments like that.


rufus said...

Joke, dear, joke. The protesters in Iran are carrying signs saying that the regime says their votes don't matter. Canadians don't want to vote now because they're exhausted and bored and it's all political posturing anyway. Hence the image of Canadian protesters marching with signs arguing that their votes shouldn't matter, in order to be spared another election.

Okay, it's not as good a joke as the one about my Ninja Uncle, but you know...

clairev said...

it was a terrible joke. you know you risk sleeping on the couch if you knock canada.

but my bad. i'm going back to the kitchen where i belong.