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I regularly read "Beat the Devil" first. Cockburn's consistently dismissiveness has a certain appeal in our world of superficial politics. However, I have often wondered whom he writes for. After reading his "Twittergasms" column it occurred to me that he is writing for himself. His trivialization of the Iranian mass movement: "those attractive Iranians" or "Neda, who got out of her car at the wrong time" was so cynical that I cannot believe that the rest of his article was anything but a careless collection of thoughts assembled to fill a page for his obligatory Nation column.

As usual, he does make valid points. However, they get lost in his über-contrarian zeal of being dismissive of all liberal and genuinely popular movements. Not only does he not offer any alternative strategy, he even goes so far as endorsing the little fascist of Tehran, who has consistently acted against secular and democratic Iranians. In Cockburn's world, notwithstanding their reactionary nature we should applaud the dark ideologies of the Taliban and the Iranian strongmen because of their anti-Western tendencies, which are primarily cultural.

Has Cockburn had the pleasure of wearing the veil in the middle of July in Tehran? Has he been in the dormitories of the University of Tehran in the dark of the night when the Bassij knocks? How about outside Evin prison on Tehran's northern slopes, looking for a father languishing on the other side of the wall?

Being anti-British did not make Hitler a good man; and Ahmadinegad and Khamenei's anti American rants should not make them role models of the left. The post-election events in Iran are a response to decades of insult and suppression of a people who has persistently fought for its human, national and democratic rights since the beginning of the last century. This was a genuine Iranian mass action that was neither led by nor was it for Mussavi; it was a spontaneous tsunami of frustrated emotions that carried him on its waves. The events were not the first nor will they be the last collective response to the theocratic rule of these mullahs and strongmen.

Mehran Azad

Pittsburgh, PA

Jul 1 2009 - 3:13pm

Web Letter

You will be happy to know that Michael Jackson's death has pushed everything else off of twitter. His death also dominated CNNI and BBC news. The business section of the BBC News was devoted to to the financial fallout from his canceled tour. I don't know if Richard Quest is back yet, but it would be interesting to see if he could spin the financial aspects of Jackson's death over an hour. There would be much grinding of teeth.

I don't think Twitter-type communications lend themselves to serious debate. They are international, and it would be difficult to use them for national problems.

I also don't know if '60s-type protest would transfer to the twenty-first century. Tom Hayden is the expert on protest movements, and I am sure his comments would be instructive.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Jun 26 2009 - 12:57pm

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