Is there anything more powerful than certain songs or videos when it comes to inspiring millions of peoople to defy their oppressors? Joan Baez's versions of "We shall overcome" and "Amazing Grace" were powerful theme songs of the successful civil rights movement in America in the the 1960's. Taken up by protestors they became part of the movement's heart and soul.
Listen to Joan's earlier versions as well as this song if you get the chance.
The USA is the birthplace of so much that is enjoyably "corrupt" and seductively appealing: jazz, rock 'n roll, barbie dolls, Madonna, the internet, You Tube, Facebook and I pods. I'm leaving out past goodies like the mini-skirt. The mullahs wake up screaming after nightmares in which their daughters wear bikinis, sing rap songs and offer the middle finger. No wonder if they rage against "western influence" and America above all ("the Great Satan)! If only the USA (a creative cauldron) and all western democracies would disappear to some planet in the Andromeda galaxy maybe Iranians and Arabs could settle down.
Better ideas always triumph in the end. Arabs nor Iranians require CIA and Mossad agents to convince them that human rights, freedom and democracy are good ideas. As an anthem of protest "We Shall Overcome" has appeal that is so natural, so deep, so universal and so intrinsic. Arabic translations are now spreading rapidly among Middle East protestors everywhere. Will it become the theme song of upcoming Iranian demonstrations as well. Will it descend from the rooftops? Will bands and singers take it up everywhere? Except for xenophobes, will it matter that something so appealing originated in the USA? People sometimes forget that Baez herself is of Middle Eastern heritage (Lebanon).
So now Khamenei gets to play in role which once belonged to southern sheriff Bull Conner, complete with snarling police dogs. Will Iran's ruling mullahs make this song illegal? If they do, why should it have any more effect than laws against political graffiti or against appealing for an election boycotts? Perhaps the regime will even try to use the song in reverse. Imagine Basilj thugs singing "We Shall Overcome" as they ride over demonstrators on their motorcycles. I doubt such a display will bring tears of sympathy for Khamenei and his ruling circle.
Sung in Persian by thousands of demonstrations, what emotional effect will "We Shall Overcome" have on Khamenei's troops and snipers given unpalatable orders? It's not as if Khamenei's troops were redneck southern cops confronting a sea of black faces. Many soldiers say they have already seen the bruised or dead bodies of family members, neighbors, liberal mullahs, schoolmate and acquaintences. Many complain of being ordered to protect Khamenei's brownshirts stomping of funeral mourners and trashing mosques and homes of regime critics. They will not remain loyal for long when close friends defect or are shot for attempting to do so.
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