Thursday, July 10, 2003

The BBC disappoints again

I don’t know why I read the BBC website daily. I like to think that it gives me a different perspective on the events of the day and helps me have a more rounded worldview. The actual result is that I end up livid at some article or another that I am reading.

Today I was excited to see an article linked from the front-page with the squib “Seeking freedom – Iran’s younger generation is impatient for change”. I quickly skipped to read the article entitled Iran’s frustrated generation.

For some reason I expected actual coverage of the students rising up against the theocracy that controls their lives. No such luck.

The only reference to the struggle for freedom is this
Mrs Badiyi says the recent student unrest was a manifestation of this sense of discontent that officials have failed to address.
I am sorry but this makes it sound like the student democracy movement is akin 9 year olds breaking windows because they are bored at the end of summer vacation. I just don’t see things that way.

A real wake up moment for me was this morning when I read Andrew Sullivan’s blog. His entry The Dorms includes pictures that are horrifying. Take the time to look at them and understand just how brave these students demonstrating for democracy are.

Viewing the pictures I realized two very important things…

One, I am DAMN lucky to have been born in America. I would like to think that I would be strong enough to fight for my freedoms but I never have to know.

Two, it is shameful that I do not know more about the student struggle for democracy in Iran. Some of that shame is my own, because I have not made the effort to go out and find the information. More of the shame lies at the feet of the media companies who have not made the effort to report this. I just can not understand why there are reams of coverage on the surgery and death of the conjoined twins and virtually nothing about a life and death struggle for freedom.

This BBC article is a perfect example. Why is there no coverage of the abduction of student leaders yesterday? That would have been an ideal topic for an article today.

Instead, we are treated to an interview with a young woman that does not go beyond the surface. In fact, it reads like a fashion commentary
She sports the latest Tehran fashion - bleached blonde long hair sticking out of her see-through headscarf, and tight drainpipe jeans with the skimpiest of short overcoats that does little to hide her figure.
What excellent reporting, an insightful probe into the mind of a young Iranian. /sarcasm

Next up is a long interview with an older woman who seems to think that just because women are allowed to work they should be thankful for the freedoms they have.
"It was an awful and closed society," says Surreya, explaining that the first years of the revolution saw debate as to whether women could even work. … "When you compare the young people now with us they have all this freedom and they're so ungrateful and don't appreciate what they've got,"
Sorry, I just can’t get behind this thought process.

However, I think that it is a common thread in any struggle for freedom. A first generation believes that they ahve acomplished everything needed - but in reality all they ahve done is whet the appetite for the next generation of activists.

In my readings on the civil rights movement here in America I remember that some older activists thought that the younger leaders such as Rev. King were asking for too much. Those older leaders were wrong, just as the older Iranian woman in this article is wrong. Instead the early civil rights leaders should have been happy to pass the torch to the younger men and women who would take the fight for freedom to the next level.

That is what needs to happen in Iran… The older Iranians who have worked to make life easier than it was immediately after the revolution need to understand that it was their good works that laid the foundation for what is happening now. The student democracy movement is the natural outgrowth of humanities desire for freedom.

I only hope that the BBC and other large media organizations will soon see the error of their ways. Soon enough the tide of demographics will push Iran into the 21st century and I would hope that it would not shock the world as it did in 1979 when Iran went back to the 14th century.


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