Police repression of a country’s urban populace is never an edifying spectacle. When snipers kill unarmed women in the street and the array of modern gadgets in the hands of spectators makes her choking, blood-soaked last breaths a public spectacle globally, it is wholly predictable and quite right that calls for justice mount.
Twenty-seven year old Iranian Neda has become a figurehead for the “green revolution” on the streets of Tehran. An attractive travel agent in Iran’s capital, she was apparently shot in the chest by Iranian police; her death was captured on a mobile phone camera and made its way from twitter to blog to CNN in a few short hours.
Cue global hysteria and endless media coverage: live blogs, rolling footage; the snuff movie as martyrdom for all the family’s viewing and endless scenes of cars burning.
European and American image-consumers love such feisty expressions of democratic discontent; burning cars, throwing bricks, beating the crap out of riot police unlucky enough to come off their two-stroke motorbikes. Because dissent is laudable overseas: At home it’s undemocratic.
You see, self-righteousness and anger as engines of change are exported, projected, displaced. In Iran we can admire the passion of Tehran’s glamorous youth (Playboy magazine is currently running a feature on Iran’s “Lipstick Revolution”); abhor the conservative clerics and watch the cars burning with a frisson of detached admiration.
God forbid such a thing happen on the streets of London. Not so very long ago, there was a protest in England’s capital, as far as I recall. It wasn’t very violent: one window of one bank was smashed; no cars were burnt, no policeman beaten and the only things thrown were juggling balls. And not in anger.
The protestors largely rather politely demanded that the bankers who had run our financial institutions into the ground return their multimillion pound bonuses. Please. And that the leaders of the G20 push for jobs, fair distribution of wealth, and a low-carbon future.
For their pains, they had the crap beaten out of them by London’s Metropolitan police, who covered up their badge numbers, backhanded women across the face, punched protestors, dragged teenage girls backwards across the street by their hair and killed an onlooker after slamming his head into the pavement.
Britain’s political establishment praised the demonstrators for their civic mindedness and engagement in the democratic right to protest, and called roundly on the police to be accountable for their murder of an innocent bystander.
“Oh? Hold on a minute?” (Checks earpiece…) “They didn’t?”
No, sorry, they did nothing of the sort. They roundly praised the police for doing a “difficult job in tough circumstances” and smeared the protestors with all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations. Not a single senior figure stood up to condemn what amounted to manslaughter of an entirely innocent man. Not one.
Oh? You mean sexy Iranian girls waving green banners or coughing up blood on Tehran’s street make us feel good and superior about not having any religious police, but the pallid face of a former alcoholic comatose on the pavement in London town after a savage attack by police and their snarling German Shepards is something we’d rather forget?
As Marina Hyde as recently written in the Guardian, “Britain needs anger management. Not to calm the fury but to gather its force.”
Go on Marina, I know you’re angry about the corrupt politicians using taxpayer’s money to buy 9000 pound Bang and Olufson TVs. I know you’re angry about bailout money for banks going out the backdoor to shareholders who got their institutions in this mess in the first place. I know you’re angry about having a Prime Minister who hasn’t been elected. I know you’re angry that police forces are now using drones to monitor people celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge… I know…. I know.
In fact, you’re so angry you could burn a police car right? Shouting “where’s my vote?”
Oh? You don’t want to have your head slammed into the pavement by the Met? You don’t want to be dragged backwards across the street by your hair? You don’t want to be detained without trial for 42 days? You don’t want to face trial without a jury? You don’t want to have your house raided and all your communications equipment permanently confiscated?… You don’t….?
Why not settle for that glass of wine like most of us and watch the Middle East on TV. Bless those impassioned Iranians.