THE SAPIENT SPARROW: conservatism for commoners

"What has always made the State a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."–Holderlin


iran hostageThirty years ago, I watched in disbelief and horror as Americans were taken hostage in Iran.  As they were bound and blind-folded and manhandled, my heart sunk.  These were AMERICANS.  How could this have happened?  What did these people want anyway?  Every night at the start of the evening news there was a segment on the hostages in Iran.  In the upper right hand corner of the screen, a special graphic showed the number of days they had been held.  I tied yellow ribbons around my trees.  I prayed for the safe return of all of them, and finally they were returned— on Iran’s terms, not ours.  One giant point for the bad guys!

Twenty years ago, I watched in disbelief and wonder as the wall in Berlin began to fall.  From berlin wallmy childhood it had stood, rising over both east and west.  My children had never known a world in which it did not exist.  To me, that wall had always been synonymous with “the Iron Curtain”.  It symbolized tyranny, cruelty, fear and hopelessness—a powerful symbol, indeed.  More powerful yet was the meaning of its breaching three decades later—evil cannot prevail, liberty is finally victorious over oppression,  zeal for freedom overcomes totalitarianism.  One giant point for the good guys!

Today I heard that there are large demonstrations in the streets of Tehran.  No surprise there, they always celebrate the anniversary of the hostage-taking.  But wait.  Listen.  They are sending apologies to us and asking support from us.  “Are you with us,” they chant, “or are you with them?”  (The chant creates a word play on the name, “Obama”, that means “with us” in Farsi).  My heart lurches.  I find myself feeling disbelief and wonder.  Here is another three decade old wall.  Is it beginning to crack and teeter?  Will it also fall?

iranian anti-government protest

The wall in Berlin was felled by a strong America with a strong President who believed in our goodness and that our values were superior to those of the wall-builders and said so in a clear, strong voice.  Today, we have a very different kind of President with a very different perception of America and its values, who will not be marking the fall of the Berlin Wall.  And though the people of Iran long to hear his clear, strong voice raised on their behalf, what they hear is, at best, a weak whisper.

I still believe that evil cannot prevail, that liberty is finally victorious over oppression and that zeal for freedom overcomes totalitarianism.  My preference is for the “good guys” to win again, sooner rather than later.  We need to have the Iranian people as friends.  My fear is that this moment will pass, just as the moment during the Iranian election demonstrations passed, without comment, without remark, without so much as a whimper or a sigh.  Ignoring the Berlin Wall is not what tore it down and freed the people behind it.  Ignoring the pleas of the Iranian people shores up the wall that imprisons them.  Shame on him who bolsters its strength, if only by his silence.  And my (rhetorical?) question is, whose side is such a man really on?


Filed under: INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE, national defense, POTUS, , , , ,

One Response

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