The Revolution will be Twittered

Zach Wiita

Her name was Neda Agha Soltan.

She was not yet 27 years old, and she was engaged to a man named Kasamin Makan. She was not a supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and she was not a supporter of Mir-Hossein Mousavi. She supported, in her fiancé’s words, according to BBC Persia, freedom for all. She was the same age as my oldest cousin. They could have gone to school together.

Neda Agha Soltan was murdered by the Iranian government Saturday.

There are no words.

There are no words for the horror to which the world bore witness this weekend. Men and women peacefully protesting for human rights and liberties were gunned down in the streets. Homes were invaded. Free speech was stifled. Civilians were murdered. The government of Iran showed the world its true colors – those of a boot crushing a human face.

We do not yet know how many people lost their lives this Saturday. A report from CNN indicates that a Tehran hospital has confirmed 19 deaths, and unconfirmed reports indicate the death toll may be as high as 150.

These protesters were not asking for what we in the West would call genuine democracy in Iran. They were not challenging the right of the Supreme Leader to hand pick authorized presidential candidates. Nor were they objecting to the right of the Supreme Leader and his theocracy to rule their country.

They asked only that if given a choice of theoretically-approved candidates, their votes actually be counted. They only asked that if their government broke a social contract, they be allowed to

peacefully protest and that the government be forced to honor its promises.

Many people are going to spend the next few days speculating what this crisis means for the future of Iran and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Some have already taken advantage of the crisis to try to claim that President Obama is being insufficiently supportive of the protesters. They overlook the common-sense facts that the United States has no right to interfere in an internal Iranian conflict that does not threaten genocide – and that the absolute worst thing the United States could do to these protesters would be to cause the average Iranian to believe they are our agents, trying to install a U.S.-supported puppet government.

The fact is we do not know how this crisis will end. We do not know how many bodies will fall upon the pile or if the tyrants will retain power. It will be a long time before we know the implications for U.S. foreign policy and how this will impact the Iranian nuclear controversy.

But perhaps we can be reassured to realize something: If this past week has demonstrated anything, it is that the grip of tyrants upon their citizenry is weakening all the world over. The ideals of the Enlightenment continue to inspire the world, and the values of liberal democracy continue to prove their worth to diverse millions.

In a world where everyone can see masses of Britons protesting against Downing Street without being cut down where they stand, where a member of an oppressed ethnic group in America can become president, citizens will no longer accept a life in chains as a legitimate social contract.

Real, home-grown liberty is inevitable, and no attempts to stifle it can succeed in the digital age. New technologies make it impossible to hide the truth of a despot’s abuses. Information spreads, and no one can stop it. Violence against protesters cannot be covered up with Web 2.0. No one can deny that Neda was murdered because we’ve seen it on Facebook. The revolution is coming, if it is not already here. We know because we saw it on Twitter.

It may be little consolation for Kasamin, but perhaps it would have given Neda some peace.

Zach Wiita is a senior political science and theatre studies major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].