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Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Imprisoning demonstrators

President Obama today denounced the imprisonment of demonstrators in Iran, demonstrators he referred to as participating in "peaceful protest" and being "innocent civilians." It is of course true that the overwhelming majority of protesters in Iran have been engaging in innocent protest, but there have also been many throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, and setting not just trash on fire, but also motorcycles and buses. All of these things have been well-documented in the videos that are circulating.

As an outcome of these demonstrations, several hundred people have been arrested. We have no way to know the individual status of each of those, although it's safe to say there were at least that many protesters (and probably many more) engaging in acts of violence which would bring an arrest in any city in the world.

Now for the history lesson. In 2004, 1806 people were arrested in New York City at the Republican Convention. Not a single Molotov cocktail was thrown, not a single bus burned, no one was throwing rocks at the police, basically it was completely non-violent (on the part of the protesters). In 2008, more than 280 were arrested at the next Republican Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, including several reporters. Even before that, armed police had staged preemptive raids on activists, detaining activists at a half-dozen locations. Again, in the absence of any violence.

Outrage from prominent politicians like Obama at those arrests? Absent to the best of my knowledge.

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