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What we owe to protesters in Iran


It’s a study in contradictions: The extremist progressive youth of the American university and the extremist progressive youth of the Iranian university.

Living in that university milieu where anything feels possible, they are both driven by a sense of invincibility, that they can and will change the world for the better. Unfortunately, on American campuses,  “progressive” cause often appears to be aligned with anti-West values and solidarity with autocratic regimes. We’ve seen photos of American students disrespecting the American flag, a tangible symbol of their country’s independence, freedom, sacrifice and dignity, while standing behind, say, the flag of Hamas, a terrorist regime, or taking political positions tantamount to ayatollah- or terrorist-sympathizing.

The contrast between the students of America and Iran was highlighted this week in arresting image. Thousands of Iranians protested their corrupted regime after the downing of a Ukrainian plane. Unlike the entitled American students who artificially cultivate outrage against America — where they have the luxury of protesting whatever they want — these brave protesters are the “extremist progressives” of Iran where to protest is to risk one’s life.

As a way to literally trip these idealistic protesters, U.S. and Israeli flags were cynically put down as a carpet in the location of the protests so the protesters would end up trampling symbols of Western values and democracy. What a clever, diabolical way make the protesters look as though they are taking a stand diametrically opposed to their intended cause. In Iran, the disrespecting flags of “the big satan,” America, and “the little satan,” Israel,  are routine.

Brilliantly and intentionally, these Iranian protesters stepped out of the way, so as not to desecrate the flags of America or Israel.

Here are these Iranians, living under a corrupt dictatorship. They face daily suffering, pain and sorrow — real sorrow, not imagined hardships in the lap of American abundance and freedom. They understand that their government imposes chaos, misery, control and strife. In contrast, it’s plain as day to them that the American and Israeli flags represent everything they are deprived of and everything they can only dream of.

When American progressives align with terrorists, dictators and ayatollahs, let this sink in: They are undermining and thwarting the efforts of these courageous, brave progressives in Iran and elsewhere — these common folk, “The People,” the American progressives’ counterparts, whose right to protest is not protected by their flag, whose decision to protest can cost them steeply since what they are fighting for is actual freedom.

Freedom — which American progressives are blessed to have in spades.

You would think that the biggest supporters of these Iranian protesters would be none other than America’s progressive community.

Instead, the thundering silence has been shocking and paradoxical.

A U.S. member of Congress —Republican or Democrat, does it matter? — put forth a resolution declaring support for the Iranian people: “The world is watching, and the people of Iran need to know that they are not alone in this pivotal moment.” If that is not a humanitarian, bi-partisan effort, then I don’t know what is.

Yet, shockingly, this resolution was blocked by American “progressives.”

When American and Israeli flags, symbolizing freedom of expression, the basic human right the Iranians are so profoundly deprived of, were shoved beneath the Iranian protesters, they stepped aside in a show of reverence — and a display of contempt for their own oppressive regime.

Indeed, these two progressive sectors remain a study in contradictions.