Peggy Noonan is on form today in the WSJ.
America so often gets Iran wrong. We didn’t know when the shah was going to fall, didn’t foresee the massive wave that would topple him, didn’t know the 1979 revolution would move violently against American citizens, didn’t know how to handle the hostage-taking. Last week we didn’t know a mass rebellion was coming, and this week we don’t know who will emerge the full or partial victor. So modesty and humility seem appropriate stances from which to observe and comment.
That having been said, it’s pretty wonderful to see what we’re seeing. It is moving, stirringâ€”they are risking their lives over there in a spontaneous, self-generated movement for greater liberty and justice.
Peggy parts company with the more strident commentators on her side who want Obama to declare America’s interest.
To refuse to see all this as progress, or potential progress, is perverse to the point of wicked. To insist the American president, in the first days of the rebellion, insert the American government into the drama was shortsighted and mischievous. The ayatollahs were only too eager to demonize the demonstrators as mindless lackeys of the Great Satan Cowboy Uncle Sam, or whatever they call us this week. John McCain and others went quite crazy insisting President Obama declare whose side America was on, as if the world doesn’t know whose side America is on. “In the cause of freedom, America cannot be neutral,” said Rep. Mike Pence. Who says it’s neutral?
Meanwhile on another blog, freedom-loving Will Wilkinson bemoans empty gestures of support.
So folks on Twitter have been turning their avatars (little profile photos) green to show solidarity with the protesters in Iran. There are websites to help you do this. But why do this? How does it help? I want the Iranian people to live in freedom, just as I want all people to live in freedom. But the point of the gesture eludes me, unless the point of the gesture is to be seen making the gesture by others who will credit you for it. Like so many political gestures, it is vanity dressed up as elevated moral consciousness. It doesnâ€™t help.
It maybe a tiny, vain gesture but I like to imagine a conversation between two incredibly brave protestors on the streets of Iran:
Protester #1: I feel that the rest of the world does not care about us.
Protester #2: Psst. Did you know that thousands of twitter users have changed their icons in a tiny gesture of solidarity? Pass it on.