The revolution may not be televised, but it is being
broadcast. And that itself is revolutionary.
I saw Neda die for the first
time on Sunday. I was at home in bed, resting a laptop on my chest. In that
moment, this distant girl became an actual human being, and by proxy, so did
all her Iranian brethren. It changed my attitude toward the idea of US
intervention in Iran and, much as how Muslims the world over reacted to Abu
Ghraib, in a way, it radicalized me.
I’m not the only one. I can’t
In case you haven’t heard, Neda
Agha-Soltan was a 26 year old Iranian girl. She was shot in the heart
by Iranian Security forces while standing on the street. Her dad was at her
side. But most importantly, she died on camera, exsanguinating for the whole
world to see.
Much has been made of the “Twitter
Revolution,” and indeed, the irrepressively
open social network has altered facts on the ground in Iran. Yet here in
the United States, in the only place that can fund and appropriately arm a
democratic insurgency inside of Iran, change is being driven by the ubiquity of
video cameras on the Iranian street and the democratization of video
publishing, a la YouTube and its many imitators.
Once upon a time, CNN, ABC and
the other gods of TV controlled the visual information pipeline. They kept from
us these raw images of death; they kept them out of our homes, out of our
bedrooms, out of our minds. No longer. And it is these images that are moving
people’s hearts, including
the President’s. Yes, Barack knows Neda too. “Heartbreaking,” he said.
It is only images like this that can shock the conscience of moderates
and skeptics and compel them into supporting some form of action. Apparently,
the Iranians on the ground know this. Look at this video. See all the
Exactly what kind of action
the US should take is worth debating. Personally, I support the covert smuggling
of guns, money, and (for good measure) shaped explosives
into the country. We should return the favor for all that Iran has done for us
in Iraq. But I’m the founder of a technology startup, not an Iran expert.
Others with more knowledge than I can speak better on this.
Yet it is YouTube (and all
that it stands for) that is making this conflagration of support possible, and
it is the ever presence of cameras inside Iran that is providing the fuel. Once
upon a time, trained journalists like Edward R. Murrow reporting on the London
Blitz would have been required to bring us such extraordinary footage, and then
a group of editors in New York would have had to huddle around a table and make
painful decisions about what to show and what to hide. That still happens, but
it’s irrelevant now. The internet is the most
popular source of news and information in the United States. The editors can still fret, but Neda
still finds us. In fact, she haunts us.