Friday, June 19, 2009
Second-hand, First-hand Iran: Part One
After 9/11 I was in shock ( I was among the thousands who fled Manhattan on foot across the 59th Street Bridge, from which I had a perfect view of the destruction). At the time I belonged to a listserv that was attached to a Shakespeare Theater where I'd studied and I ended up posting several first hand accounts of what I'd seen that day--and the days that followed--on the message board. This was in the beginning, before it all got ugly again, so when people began to ask if they could forward them to friends around the world I said yes. I wanted people to know how it felt to be in New York, as everything was so irrevocably changed. I relate this as preface because I have been given a first hand account of the protests in Iran from a colleague who knows someone on the ground and I have been trying to decide if I should post it.
It seems clear that new media--notably Twitter--and blogs are playing an important role in spreading information about what is happening in Iran. But I have hesitated to post anything until now because I haven't wanted to oversimplify the dynamics of this conflict. These new media platforms reproduce Orientalist scenarios just as ably as "old media" outlets and I do not want to particpate in that (For e.g. it took me twenty minutes to find images for these posts on Iran that did not involve big groups of Iranians shouting...) Like many Americans, I have misgivings about Ahmadinejad, but it is hard to depend on the bufoonish portrayals in the US media, which are undoubtedly Orientalist in character, for a realistic picture of him as a leader. I also want to be careful not to expose the author to retaliatory violence in Iran, even if s/he is asking that as many people see this account as possible.
So here is what I have decided: I will print this first-hand account, with the understanding that it represents one Iranian's experience of these events. I welcome opinions about this material, which may be available elsewhere on the net by now. Let this be the beginning of a conversation about what is happening in Iran then, not a definitive word. (Press "full screen" to view the document at a readable size.)
Report from Tehran Protests -