A Time for Silence

Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Rights Reason & Religion, RML, Social Justice — By on June 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm

President Obama should not speak in support of the Iranians protesting the recent presidential elections.  In fact, no US official, in power or out of it, should publicly support them.

First, it’s redundant.  Is there any doubt that anyone in Iran (much less, the world) knows whose side the Americans are on in this conflict?  A diverse population, young and old, rich and poor, clergy and laity, Persian and Arab, male and female, are uniting in peaceful protest in the streets of Iran’s major cities, marching in silence against corruption and violence in their electoral system.  The protests echo the footsteps on US-80 to Montgomery, and earlier ones to the sea at Dandi.  It is a movement that is growing exponentially by the day, with almost 3 million people reported at rallies today to mourn those murdered by the Basij for participating.  Is there even a chance that the world might question, especially in light of recent clashes with Ahmadenijad, what outcome American leaders favor?

Second, it would undermine the movement.  The election wasn’t about American-Iranian relations.  The protests don’t even represent a massive ideological divide in the Iranian electorate.  As many commentators have observed, Mousavi’s policies aren’t dramatically dissimilar to those of Ahmadenijad.  This movement is about political legitimacy.  Iran is an illiberal democracy, a system with the trappings and functions of a democratic state but without the guaranteed civil rights and civil liberties necessary to maintain a true democracy.  The Guardian Council decides who may or may not run for office, but the Iranian people expect that the elections themselves will be legitimately decided by the voters.

This election was obviously and audaciously rigged.  The movement is a genuine, grassroots rejection of the results by the electorate.  Already, the Iranian government is attempting to prove that the U.S. and Israel are behind the protests, to discredit this as genuine outrage on behalf of the citizens of Iran.  We must not lend aid to that attempt at propaganda.  We must not cut the legs out from under our brothers and sisters who refuse to be silenced.  Our speech would silence them in their own country.

Third, it would endanger the protesters.  Ahmadenijad was elected by the skin of his teeth in 2005.  His popularity has declined as he failed to make good on any of his campaign promises.  The only popularity he seems able to retain in the electorate is what he gets from being an outspoken opponent of the U.S.  The more we oppose him, the more powerful he gets.  Some analysts have even speculated that he would have no power at all in Iran if not for the Bush administration’s rhetoric.  The rhetoric was intended to call him out, but some argue that it merely gave him legitimacy within the country (especially since U.S. statements rarely distinguished Ahmadenijad from the rest of Iran).

If President Obama speaks out against Ahmadenijad and the Supreme Leader’s decision to ignore the will of the people, he will only help those in power cling to it more desperately.  It could allow the government to become more brutal in its attempts to suppress the protests, casting the violence in the language of struggle against U.S. imperialism.  We must protect those who are willing to lay down their lives for freedom.  Sometimes that means not saying things that make us feel better about ourselves.

What can we do instead?  This is a time for the people of America to act on behalf of their leaders.  If you’re not on twitter, sign up here. Follow #iranelection or #gr88 to find out what’s going on.  Change your location to Tehran and your time zone to GMT +3.30 to help confuse Iranian authorities who are trying to arrest protesters.  Visit this Guide to the Cyberwar site for more information on how to help (and not accidentally hurt) the Iranians’ fight for freedom.

And pray.  As our own Rachel Motte so elegantly said, the sons of Isaac pray for the sons of Ishmael, for we all come from the same father. ‘



  • Adolf

    Also please do not speak up in support of those Jews who are protesting their treatment at the hands of the Nazis. Does anyone doubt where the United States stands? Of course everyone knows that the US supports the Jews, so it’s unimportant to say so. Besides, Hitler is greatly strengthened when he can adopt the stance of standing against America; many speculate that Hitler would have lost power long ago if American politicians had not strengthened him by calling his methods dictatorial and wrong. The United States only further endangers the Jews when it brings more attention to all the Jews are suffering and voices its moral outrage against it.

  • Ahithophel

    I have to agree with the implication of the above post. This is an inane article. It’s both an astonishing bit of intellectual contortionism designed to justify the inaction and silence of the Obama administration, and a remarkable declaration of moral cowardice. I’m sorry to be so blunt. It’s well written, and I’m sure the author has a wonderful personality. But I hope it just represents a way-station on the road to a rational position.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Lang,

    I can understand the need for caution when inserting ourselves into international affairs. We should not solve this by loading up the troops and rushing in, or even offer to fund rebels or protect protestors. We haven’t gotten to that point yet.

    However, I cannot grasp the rationale for staying silent. A public statement opposing the violence, calling for reform, encouraging non-US led pressure be brought to bear, even outside recounts and election monitering…how can this be a bad thing to publically support?

    As to the suggestion that all of this is redundant; first, even obvious truths need to be spoken when circumstances belie the nature of obvious truth. With such a audacious scam defrauding millions, it is actually important to remind everyone that justice and law still do matter. An “Emperor Has No Clothes” sort of situation.

    Secondly, as I alluded in my post, for President Obama the “redundant” is actually important, since he has failed to support an oppressed weaker state in the past as well. We all remember the Georgian conflict during the election, right? Obama’s statements on Russia’s ridiculously disproportional invasion of Georgia were similarly blasé; I’d say he needs to show that he can stand up for the little guy and for the legal process of law before we allow him to allow something like this occur because condemning it would be redundant.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    On the contrary, “Adolf”, your comments show a woeful ignorance of the difference between Germany in the 1930s – 1940s and the current political situation in Iran. Your choice of Nazism as an example only exposes your ignorance of modern Iran (as well as your ignorance of the possibility of influencing Hitler’s diabolical actions through rhetoric in the White House).

    But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of someone who knows much better than I, and has a much more personal stake in liberty for the Iranian people.

    The point of this article is not to defend Obama’s inaction. It was written in dismay at the actions of other officials who are recklessly applying overinflated ideas of the importance of their opinion at the expense of the cause of freedom in Iran.

    We must understand this conflict from the Iranian point of view, not the American one. The Iranian government would like nothing better than to turn this into an example of America meddling in Iranian affairs. If they succeed in doing so, it will seriously threaten the movement for freedom in Iran and allow hard-liners like Ahmadenijad to seize more power.

    We need to remember: this isn’t about us. It’s about the men, women, and children who are offering their lives for the chance at truer self-determination. We must do all in our power to support them, and in this unique historical instance, our diplomatic silence serves them best, while we ready ourselves to give any other aid necessary if and when it is needed.

    As Milton once said, “they also serve who only stand and wait.” It’s not exciting to do that, especially for a country as gung-ho for freedom as we are! But in this case, it is the most radical action we can take on behalf of those who long for freedom.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Ah, but my dear Mulready, the Georgia situation should have urged our verbal caution! Russia was aggressive, of course, but the invasion could have been averted if Saakashvili hadn’t intentionally baited them, Russia could have acted like a civilized country in response, and we hadn’t blundered in and given Medvedev the support in his own country he needed to justify rolling tanks across the border.

    We seem baffled when we speak out for justice, and nations that excel at turning our cries for liberty into imperialist commands use our speech to make their actions against freedom politically expedient.

    In the case of Iran, much more so than in the case of Georgia, American declarations enable men like Ahmadenijad to do as they please. It makes the protests appear illegitimate, and that is all the excuse the Ayatollah Khameini needs to ignore them.

    Isn’t that the last thing we want?

    And besides, it may be worth asking if the American voice is the most powerful one. Rather than speak ourselves, how can we give Iranians a platform to speak in their own defense? Only that will convince the Supreme Leader that his position of power may be in jeopardy. American opposition only strengthens him.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    It seems that Henry Kissinger shares my opinion. Although I must admit, now I want to go back and reevaluate everything.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Ah Lang, if this was only a matter of diplomacy I might be able to agree.

    Unfortunately, the question of justice has actually been raised. We should not and cannot be merely concerned with how our enemies will use our verbal opposition of their actions. In a way, reality itself is actually up for grabs. Ahmadenijad has one version and is attempting to silence anyone in his country who says differently. For their sake, and also for the sake of the truth itself (and also so that he knows we know he’s a criminal and a cheat…which also matters) we need to speak up.

    Not take action, not call for revolution; merely state clearly and plainly that we oppose injustice and support fair and honest elections. It’s as innocuous as that. Part of leading is showing others that we can discern what is right and wrong; it was one of the strengths of the Bush Administration, and Iranians in America have reflected on the need for a strong voice from outside the conflict to testify to the truth that Ahmadenijad seems determined to stiffle.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    You seem to forget, Mulready, that the obtainment of justice is often a matter of diplomacy.

    What I fail to see in your argument is how making statements about the election does anything to aid the Iranians who are marching and dying for it.

    I much prefer railing against the powers of tyranny than quietly working on the sidelines and instructing the State Department to aid communications technology so Iranians can speak to the world despite their government’s attempts to silence them.

    But as much as I like the idea of thundering from a pulpit (and as great a job I think this president would do!), I cannot think of one actual benefit that could come from it. After my careful study of Iran’s history, America’s part in that history, and her current politics, I can’t find one.

    Can you? I’d love to know what real, tangible benefit it would bring the people of Iran for American leaders to be a ‘strong voice.’ And how would that balance out the almost certain damage such an action would do to the movement?

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Lang,

    First, I would also love to hear this President rail against this tyranny, as I am actually starting to question his ability to sound off at anything actually evil. I am sad to say that I mean that sincerely, and am not actually trying to be smart. Whether it was off-handedly dismissing his relationship with Rev. Wright, or ignoring the abuses of Russia against Georgia, or passing the buck when it comes to answering what he personally thinks about the definition of lifeand what deserves to be protected by the law he was hoping to promise to protect and uphold, or this final inability to state plainly and unequivocably that he considers the sham election to be an abuse of human rights and an affront to freedom and liberty…I have a very hard time not writing Obama off as a weak-kneed supposed idealist, incapable of handling the moral leadership that goes hand and hand with his preferred job.

    Secondly, you ask what tangible good I think can come from a full-throated argument for the protestors and for free and legal elections? How about the tangible good of being a voice that preserves the standard of justice? Certainly we need more voices that stand up for justice, no?

    Perhaps that sounds cheesy. So what about this: President Obama’s disinterest in the election and the abuses that have come as a result send a message to the Iranians that no matter the result, nothing will change:

    “Either way,” Mr. Obama said, the United States is “going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons.”

    What about the tangible good of being a voice for hope, a voice to the Iranians that tells them that there is value in fighting for change? Surely that is a tangible good, even if the change that they fight for is not the radical change we’d like to see?

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Hmm… being a voice for good, eh? That’s all you got? That outbalances allowing Ahmadenijad and the rest to justify calling this genuine outpouring of outrage an American interference, which could lead to increased violence and solidification of the power of those who hate us within the country at the expense of freedom?

    I’m not convinced. I’m afraid that in your argument, ideology is talking, not practical action in favor of the cause of the protesters. It still sounds far more opportunistic for America than for the Iranians.

    And you didn’t explain how it outweighs the inherent dangers, or how it will lead to positive results for the Iranians. Or why it’s necessary to tell Ahmadenijad and the world what they all already know.

    As for Obama not standing for justice… well, perhaps you just disagree with what he’s been calling injustice. :)

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    I realize that in trying to keep my article short, I neglected to include a caveat:

    My argument stands only while the situation remains the same in regard to the response of the Iranian government.

    If Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech at Friday prayers today signals a significant shift in the government’s action against the protesters (as it seems it will), the U.S.’s actions must of course change in order to suppport those who fight for their freedom. If, without statements from American and other leaders that can be taken as interference, the Iranian government chooses to call the protests inauthentic, then it doesn’t matter what those leaders say at all, and they should speak freely and powerfully.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    “Hmm… being a voice for good, eh? That’s all you got? That outbalances allowing Ahmadenijad and the rest to justify calling this genuine outpouring of outrage an American interference, which could lead to increased violence and solidification of the power of those who hate us within the country at the expense of freedom?

    I’m not convinced.”

    I don’t believe you. Every principled stand comes at a cost; you, my dear Lang, are a person of high principles, and you take stands on them frequently, even when to do so will harm your relationship wih those you are denouncing, even when taking such a stand will have little “tangible” good as a result. We take such stands because we believe in the power of our convictions. By speaking boldly in the face of adversity, we affirm that our values are worth the cost.

    What Christian does not affirm this simple truth? Certainly history is full of the stories of leaders who took the deep, hard plunge into conflict and even war because they would not allow the threat of consequences to dissuade them from speaking truth at an important moment.

    I repeat, I am not calling for anything more serious or weighty than a public admonishment of the already violent actions of the Iranians, and a denouncing of the obvious fraud that is being upheld as truth in Iran, and that steps be taken by the Iranian government to address this, with the possible help a neutral international party. No calls for revolution, no demands for a new vote, no threats of action. Simply standing publically for what is right.

    The consequence for failing to stand up is the perception that we don’t see any reason to say anything at all. That is the perception which is developing, even amongst Persian-Americans, who watch with growing confusion our President’s nonchalance towards this issue.

  • http://evangelicaloutpost.com cmulready

    Speaking of redundant statements… http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran-khamenei20-2009jun20,0,7572441.story

    Given this…what would you say, Lang, we should do now? Why did we need to wait for this, since we all knew it was coming?

  • smmtheory

    While I do not for an instant believe that American opposition gives any tinpot dictator any more legitimacy or standing or strength than they conjure up in their own and their supporters minds, I do not believe that having President Obama speak to any angle on this issue will help in any way. For one, he lacks credibility on the issue of liberty given his actions since the beginning of his term of office. Two, he lacks any credibility on foreign policy given his willingness to talk with and rub elbows with tinpot dictators. The only helpful thing he could say at this moment would be to highlight that this confrontation in Iran is an internal power struggle between two sets of tinpot dictators and that the people are being used as pawns by both. If he had a set of manly objects in his pants, he would refuse to deal with either set of tinpot dictators no matter what the outcome.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Mulready, you call it non-chalance, I call it prudence.

    I’m all for strong statements, and you’re right, I don’t like the idea of shrinking from one because it might cost something, personally or politically. But more than that, I’m for making the right strong statements at the right time. Yesterday was not the time. After the Supreme Leader’s speech, it seems the time may have come.

    I’m afraid I have to agree with smmtheory, though. I don’t think a strong statement from the US will do anything. It’s for us that we make it, not the Iranian people.

    That said, at this point (as in since Khamenei’s speech this morning and the subsequent fallout), I think we’re beyond the situation that prompted me to write this article. Before the Supreme Leader made it crystal clear what his course of action would be, there was a chance that the pressure the protesters exhibited (especially in terms of political legitimacy) might be enough to scare him and the rest of the establishment into more moderate exercise of power. In that case, it would be best for the US not to appear to back the protesters. This would actually further their cause, rather than hinder it.

    It seems now that time is past.

    I don’t know what further danger anyone’s words could put the protesters in at this point. So now seems to be time for some good ol’ fashioned bully pulpitin’. I hope Jon Favreau’s locked away with his staff cooking up something good. But again, it’s more encouragement to the Iranian protesters (which is a good thing of course!), not something that’s likely to have any effect on the leadership. If UN resolutions don’t intimidate them, a few speeches won’t.

    Far more important, though, than public statements at this time is that we continue to support the Iranians through communications. It’s been wonderful to see groups and companies like Google, the Pirate Bay, Anonymous, The Atlantic, Twitter, Facebook, and the BBC voluntarily help thwart the authoritarians in Iran. We need to make sure we continue to do all we can to keep communication between Iran and the rest of the world open.

  • Adolf

    Well, Ms Lang, since you accused me of “woeful ignorance,” I won’t feel the need for decorum here. Let me introduce you to something called an argument by analogy. It does not claim that A and B are *identical*; it claims that they are *analogous* because similar in a particular relevant aspect. Thus to say that they are not identical, as you do, is not to defeat the argument by analogy. You assert that my comparison to Nazi Germany exposes my woeful ignorance, but you show no way in which a better understanding of Iran would have led to a different conclusion. Instead you point to some person who believes that our silence is golden. Congratulations. It’s easy to find sources on both sides of that one. Consider, for instance, here: http://hotair.com/archives/2009/06/14/cnn-producer-iranian-students-say-theyre-doomed-if-obama-accepts-the-iranian-election/

    Of course I am *shocked*, just *shocked* that as the Obama administration gradually changed course (under pressure, naturally) you found a way to say that *now* we should speak. You are a cheerleader for the administration, rather than examining the issue objectively. Nothing has changed, of course, yet now, fortuitously, you think the time has come for strong words. But I thought people know where America stands? What about the “American meddling” excuse? You say that our protest now cannot further endanger the protesters. But the protesters were already being killed in the streets, and in any case further endangering the protesters was not one of our original excuses for being against speaking up.

    In a sense, I agree that speaking up with words of condemnation is limited in its effectiveness. But that’s because those words should be combined with a credit threat of sanction if the Iranians continue to oppress their own people violently. And it’s because the Obama administration has already shown countries like Iran and North Korea that it is very weak and scarcely willing to lift a finger to stop them. How’s that working out, by the way? Has that led to a decrease in provocations? Quite the opposite. Another shocker.

    It was you who basically failed to understand Iran. You thought that if Iran could spin this as “American meddling,” then…what? They could convince their own people that there was not really a protest going on? That would be absurd, so surely you didn’t mean that. Maybe they could convince other nations that there was no real protest going on? But other nations would not believe it; the truth is plain to see that this is a genuine revolutionary movement. You failed to understand that this is indeed a despotic regime that is perfectly willing to do violence against its own people. They are not going to moderate unless they are forced to moderate, and force is something that we can help the protesters bring to the table. We should let the Iranians lead the movement, because it is their country, but it was morally obtuse and politically appalling that the Obama administration was not willing to stand up with the revolutionaries when they most needed our support. American support *has* aided revolutionary movements in transforming their countries; and the absence of American support has led some revolutionary movements to be quashed. The tyrannic leadership of Iran was never going to be swayed by kumbaya circles. They will only be swayed by the cold calculus of power, and if the Supreme Leader knows in no uncertain terms that he will pay an impossible price for violently suppressing this movement, then he is in a far weaker position than before.

    We don’t know how far the Nazi Germany analogy goes–it depends on what happens next. Of course there are respects in which they are disanalogous. But before Hitler had consolidated power, there may have been periods when stringent condemnation from abroad, with a credible threat of sanction or action, could have fatally weakened his government. And apologists not unlike yourself counseled that we should hold our tongues…and the horror only grew.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Adolf,

    I do apologize for any offense my words caused. I intended to point out the ignorance of your argument, not to say you were an ignorant person.

    But I’m afraid you’re still wrong. Your argument implied that not commenting on the situation in Iran is like not commenting on the Holocaust. They’re just radically different situations, which is why your argument is silly. Of course there were voices that could have spoken against Hitler early on, but it wasn’t until the middle of the war that the Holocaust was enacted in force. It’s just not at all the same situation. And really, you don’t want to tangle with me on this topic. I just wrote my master’s thesis about the road to the Holocaust. I have more primary sources than I know what to do with. :)

    What matters here is the Assembly of Religious Experts. They are the only body with the power to put pressure on the Supreme Leader, because they’re the only body with the power to remove him from office. As authoritarian as the Iranian government (and the Supreme Leader) are, they know that their power relies on the perceived legitimacy of it. And they know that the 1979 revolution succeeded and gave them this power because of the same kind of mobilization they’re watching in the streets of Iran today.

    Overthrow of the regime is unlikely (though rewriting the constitution would be fantastic). But if the Assembly of Religious Experts sees its power teetering, it could decide to put pressure on Khamenei to hold new, freer election. That’s what the protesters are counting on, especially because Rafsanjani is on the Assembly and seems to be playing a very subtle and very clever role in putting that pressure on.

    Already there is a schism in the Assembly (which is why Iranian state tv falsely reported the entire Assembly issued a letter in support of Khamenei today). There are rumors of a schism in the Revolutionary Guard.

    There are only two ways for Khamenei to stay in power at this point. He gain regain control through violence, which he seems to be testing today, or he can convince the Assembly that this isn’t a genuine protest on behalf of the people but rather interference in Iranian politics by Britain and America. He’s trying that out, too.

    That’s why we need to be cautious. With his insistence on ignoring the protesters’ concerns and supporting Ahmadenijad, Khamenei has proved he’s willing to do anything and craft any propaganda possible to get his way. The state even claimed that a suicide bomber attacked Khomeini’s shrine this morning (and CNN carried the report) – but had no footage of wreckage to back it.

    Still, it’s worth taking care not to make the protester’s job harder – not handing out soundbytes freely.

  • Mr. Incredible

    In, “Triumph of the Will,” Hitler said that it is not enough to believe, that one must fight.

    The Word of God says that those who are born again speak what we believe, that death and life are in the power [read: the words] of the tongue.

    We are to speak.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    So, according to Hitler, Obama should speak against the Iranian leadership? And God endorses Hitler on this issue?

    While Scripture certainly urges us always to be ready with an answer for the hope we have in Christ, always to preach the Gospel, does that necessarily mean that in any situation, secular or spiritual, political or personal, we are to speak our mind by the command of God?

    It seems to me that the Lord Christ Himself held His tongue in many circumstances, including His own trial before the Sanhedrin. Should we not follow the example of Christ instead of Hitler?

  • Mr. Incredible

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    July 8, 2009 at 2:24 pm
    So, according to Hitler, Obama should speak against the Iranian leadership?
    ——————————————–
    Hitler never told obammy to speak about anything.

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    And God endorses Hitler on this issue?
    ——————————————-
    What issue?

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    While Scripture certainly urges us always to be ready with an answer for the hope we have in Christ, always to preach the Gospel, does that necessarily mean that in any situation, secular or spiritual, political or personal, we are to speak our mind by the command of God?
    ————————————————-
    Speak our mind? No. Speak His Mind? Yes.

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    It seems to me that the Lord Christ Himself held His tongue in many circumstances, including His own trial before the Sanhedrin.
    ——————————————————-
    Jesus came on a mission. He had to die in order to accomplish that mission. What should he have said to stop them and, still, to accomplish His mission?

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    Should we not follow the example of Christ instead of Hitler?
    —————————————————–
    The example of Christ to do, or not do, what? Speak? He told us to speak up.

    Hitler said that it is not enough to believe, that people must fight. Is that not true that belief is not enough? Hitler, no doubt, said, at some point, that 2 and 2 are 4. Is is no longer true just cuz HE said it?

    Is it not true that the Word of God tells us to speak the Abundance of our hearts — that is, Christ being the Abundance.

    Didn’t Jesus say that our Light should not be hidden under a bushel, that it is posted high up on a hill for all to see?

    Didn’t Jesus tell us to broadcast the Seed, that some seed falls on good ground and other seed on bad ground?

    If we are to follow His example, and God spoke, “Light be!” are we not supposed to do that, too — that is, speak Light into the world?

    He did not tell us, by example, nor otherwise, to squander our substance [as defined by Hebrews 11:1].

  • Mr. Incredible

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    It seems to me that the Lord Christ Himself held His tongue in many circumstances…
    ——————————————–
    Besides the trial, where?

    He didn’t hold His tongue where He was to deliver the Message of God’s Reconciliation, bringing God’s Own Word to bear. He came to save us, not Himself, and that’s why He didn’t defend Himself. In not defending Himself, He defended the Reconciliation Offer of God cuz the mission was still on.

  • Mr. Incredible

    ==President Obama should not speak in support of the Iranians protesting the recent presidential elections. In fact, no US official, in power or out of it, should publicly support them.

    First, it’s redundant. Is there any doubt that anyone in Iran (much less, the world) knows whose side the Americans are on in this conflict? ==

    I agree that no one should’ve protested the war in Veet Nam. Protest is redundant.

  • Evelyn Baker Lang

    Mr. Incredible,

    Trying to have a coherent conversation with you through comment boards is like trying to herd cats! I’m afraid that I’m having trouble following your argument, especially as a lot of what you say doesn’t seem to be any response to what I’ve asked or said.

    Plus, you insist on yanking verses out of their context in order to prove your point – and you know what they say, a text without context is a pretext for prooftext. I don’t quite know how to respond to such a disjointed interpretation of Scripture.

    So, sorry, but I’m not sure how to address your responses above. I’d like to – you raise some great issues! But I just don’t know where to begin with the three you’ve posted in the past couple hours.

    Out of curiosity, though, why “Mr. Incredible”? Are you a Pixar fan? Might we find common ground there? :)

  • Adolf

    Just checked back in to see whether the course of events has changed your view, Ms Lang.

    The Obama administration did nothing and said very little, in spite of requests from protesters. The protests were violently suppressed; they were blamed on American interference in any case; and Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have consolidated their power.

    So the Obama administration basically adopted a supine position…and, surprise of surprises, nothing happened. Except that scores and perhaps hundreds of protesters were shot or axed to death, and now the revolutionaries are terrified of open protest. No one in the international community–and certainly not the United States–showed their support in any meaningful way for the protesters. In fact we made quite clear that we still considered the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime legitimate and were willing to deal with them.

    Any complex historical moment is different from another. Your master’s thesis is beside the point (and having written two master’s theses and a dissertation, well, let’s just say I’m not afraid to “tangle with” you). It’s a fundamental matter: tyrants are only overcome by force, and the balance of power was too far against the resisters. You mention the Assembly of Religious Experts. You think the Assembly is *more* likely to call for new elections if it is only the resisters–and *less* likely if the free world, led by the United States, with the threat of sanctions, stands together with the protesters in demanding justice? The Assembly is not going to be swayed by Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric that this is merely American meddling.

    This was a major historical moment, the most significant crack in the Iranian theocracy in many years, because it had the potential (if there were a change of regime) to turn Iran away from its march to a nuclear weapon. I know Moussavi was also pro-nuclear at first, but his views grew further and further from Ahmadinejad’s as the resistance grew. So this major historical moment came–the Obama administration did nothing–and the moment of opportunity passed. The Obama folks lacked the moral and political courage to do what was necessary. They dallied in indecision.

    This was one of the problems that we were warned about with Obama. He’s indecisive. The moment came and went, and he couldn’t decide what to do. I think he also lacked the courage to take a risk on the international stage, or do anything that might be perceived as “meddling.” He’s too wedded to the notion that America is a negative influence on the international scene; we can use our power for liberation, and he missed a major chance.

    The point with Hitler’s Germany could have been made with Stalin’s oppressions, Mao’s oppressions, Pol Pot, all the way down to the Sudan. When injustice is being done, the free world needs to stand up and speak out against it with a loud voice–and preferably it should also punish those who are doing the injustice with, at the very least, strong sanctions. We just showed potential resisters of tyranny around the world that, in the moment when they stand up, we will do nothing. Congratulations to the Obama administration.

  • Mr. Incredible

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    July 8, 2009 at 4:44 pm
    Mr. Incredible,
    I’m having trouble following your argument, especially as a lot of what you say doesn’t seem to be any response to what I’ve asked or said.
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    The nice thing about writing is that the reader can go over it again and again until he understands it.

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    July 8, 2009 at 4:44 pm
    Plus, you insist on yanking verses out of their context… such a disjointed interpretation of Scripture.
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    I’m taking nothing out of context.

    Evelyn Baker Lang says:
    July 8, 2009 at 4:44 pm
    Out of curiosity, though, why “Mr. Incredible”? Are you a Pixar fan? Might we find common ground there? :)
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    I am very impressed by “The Incredibles” as a Christian metaphor in that the secularists want to tamp down Christian expression for the “damage” it has done to them. After all, when I post Scripture, their eyes burn and they want me to get lost. The Word of God says, in essence, that those who are born again are superheroes doing hero work.

  • Mr. Incredible

    ==…you insist on yanking verses out of their context…==

    To which context should I be beholden? There’s more than one. Principle is not beholden to the immediate context/situation. Context demonstrates principle, not the other way around. Scripture upon Scripture IS context.