Sunday, June 21, 2009

Andrew Sullivan -- schlub of the week

I've refrained from commenting on the truly amazing happenings in Iran for two reasons.

1) I'd like to keep this from becoming a blog where your humble schlub spouts his political opinions. (Which, I've come to accept, nobody wants to hear.)

2) I don't quite know what to make of all that's happening.

On the one hand, only a completely heartless person could not feel a great burst of solidarity with the protesters.

On the other hand, I honestly find it difficult to believe that the mullahs are going anywhere -- or that there will be any fundamental change in Iran's anti-western posture.

Revolutions are... well... really, really difficult to pull off.

Not that they don't happen. They do. But the Iranian state is an extremely strong, centralized one, with a vast and brutal secret service -- as well as a plain-clothes religious paramilitary (the Basij) which dole out Koranic justice at their own discretion. I don't think Ayatollah Ali Khameini really gives a shit about how many people will die in this uprising -- so long as his position, and the position of his fellow mullahs, are preserved. And I just don't think the protesters have the guns to challenge them. (Although, this little nugget from Roger Cohen is definitely worth noting: If the police start going over to the protesters, then, yes, we have a real revolution on our hands.)

Let's hope that this does develop into a revolution. I have my doubts, but we can hope. More realistically, two good things will probably come out of the chaos on the streets: the birth of an organized opposition which can challenge the regime at some later date, and for the realization by the rest of the world that Iran is a regional pariah. (Which not everyone accepts.)

But in the middle of this, I have to say one thing:

The blogger Andrew Sullivan has been truly invaluable.

Nobody has been on this story more persistently; no one has gotten more photos, more tweets and more video footage on his web site; and no one has been a louder (or more sane) voice on behalf of the protesters. (And one of the things I admire about Sullivan is that even in his great zeal, he has never succumbed to an easy formula like, "Obama must say/do X, Y, and Z." Because the truth is, nobody knows the right formula.)

I was sort of befuddled when the election happened more than a week ago that the major TV networks weren't carrying the story round-the-clock. (I mean, it's a freaking revolution! In one of two countries we're MOST LIKELY TO GO TO WAR WITH. Kind of a big deal.)

Sullivan has been with the story all the way. And even though he is pretty much by himself, he has gotten as much on the ground reporting (from readers) into his blog as has been in the New York Times.

Those of you who read FSTS know that Sullivan is one of only two or three bloggers I read consistently. And he always exemplified the archetype of a schlub: scruffy, bookish, homebody. (A gay, British version -- but a schlub nonetheless.)

Bravo, Mr. Sullivan. You make us schlubs proud.