For the last six months and since Day One of this uprising, lovingly code-named the Green Movement (Jonbesh-e Sabz), I have consistently called and continue to call it a civil-rights movement. This does not mean I am blind to its revolutionary potentials, violent dimensions, or destructive forces. It does not mean that the Islamic republic may not, or should not, fall. I keep calling it a civil-rights movement because I believe that the underlying social changes that have caused and continue to condition this movement are hidden behind a political smoke screen. As our attention is distracted by the politics of the moment, I have kept my ears to the ground listening to the subterranean sounds and tremors of an earth holding some 200 years of an anti-colonial modernity in it sinuous silences.
Beyond the pale and patience of politics, and the attention span of a Twitter phrase, I have called this a civil-rights movement because I see something in that polyclonal green that defies augury. That color green is a sign that signals and means many things to many people, and no one is entirely in charge to legislate or regulate or incarcerate exactly what.
For 30 years—not just over the last six months—the Islamic republic has systematically distorted a cosmopolitan and multifaceted political culture and, by hook or by crook, shoved it down the narrow and suffocating chimney of a militant Islamism that is, of course, integral to that culture, but has never been de... >>>
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