Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Like many people, I've been a fascinated observer of the recent events in Iran.

It's never easy to get a firm grasp on the politics of any foreign country, especially from afar, without a lot of study. So I won't venture a guess as to how it will all play out or what it may mean.

But I am old enough to remember the 1979 revolution, watching Iranian students march in protest in the streets of Boston. And I remember that many of them ended up having their dreams dashed as the revolution consumed their futures, as revolutions often do. Mos of the Iranian students at Northeastern U. then were the well-connected offspring of the elite classes there on oil money. Many never did go home.

Now, almost exactly 30 years later, Iran is convulsed again, with most of the population too young to know anything other than the Islamic Republic. But like the young people of 79, they demand a different future. And like the young people of 1979, many of them are paying and will pay, a stiff price.

The video of one young woman, in particular, has touched many. While there are, naturally, conflicting reports, the best ones I have seen identify her as a 26- or 27-year-old woman named Neda, who was near the protests with some friends, including an older man (often erroneously identified as her father) who was her music teacher. Her fiance is quoted as saying she wasn't all that political, and wasn't a fervent supporter of any particular candidate, but just wanted votes to count.

Watching her death on video is profoundly disturbing. Yet her fate does put a very human face on what is happening, and if the regime changes, it may very well be because of the power of her example.

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