I remember listening to "Bomb Iran," the cover parody of the Beach Boy's Barbara Ann when we lived in Atwater, CA while Dad was stationed at Castle AFB training others to be certified to fly B-52s in the late 1970s as the Iran Hostage Crisis brewed.
I was 13 or 14 at the time. There was no Internet. There really wasn't a lot on cable at that time either, so we were treated to nightly views of angry Iranian people burning American flags, chanting "Death to America!" and we had Jimmy Carter in the White House, powerless to do anything about our American brethren held hostage until the day President Ronald Reagan took office.
Bomb Iran was a funny song then, and Y94 FM in Fresno played it all the time. People would talk about it. My brothers and I knew all the words, too. We sung it as a rallying cry and even understood the value in Yellow Ribbons that were a plentiful reminder to all Americans that we had U.S. citizens being held against their will.
In the back of my mind this week, as thousands have risked their own lives, and a handful of Iranian citizens, some of them who were not even born when I was listening to Bomb Iran, were videotaped dying in the streets of Tehran at the use of force by their own government, the chorus of that song became less funny. Because with each viewing of a new video, each reminder of Neda's eye's rolling hauntingly toward the camera as she lie dying, I began to more and more associate what was happening over there with real people. People who were to the point of where they'd take up rocks and sticks against their national Goliath and risk everything because they believed they'd been disenfranchised, suddenly became real and lifelike to me.
Yes, the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains a threat to American national security through his continued push for nuclear weaponry, through his relationships with Russia and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. But because of YouTube and Twitter, we now see the face of our "enemy," and in many ways, it could look like our own.
Think about what we've seen since mid-June. We've seen people angry at their government. We've seen them angered to the point that they don't feel like their votes were counted in an election. How many times has that happened here? Many of them allegedly went out and were encouraged by Mir Hussein Moussavi to protest peacefully. And to what little we know, in large part they were and did, armed initially with green wrist bands and cell phones.
So is our solution to what Ahmadinejad is doing with his government to send a few B-52s from Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, LA, the tiny island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean or Anderson AFB in Guam on a low-level sortie over the Iranian country side, open the doors without Major Kong trying to fix the circuitry, and deliver a perfect strike?
Major Garrett from Fox News this week was seen as a hero of sorts for standing up to our own President Obama and asking him, "What took so long?" to say something about what's happening in Iran other than soft comments. Yes, the president should have been sterner sooner. He should have used the American presidents' bully pulpit to rally support for the citizens of Iran. (He should NOT have a hot dog picnic at the White House with Iranian ambassadors…) But what else could we do?
I think you'd be hard pressed to find any of these Iranian people who are risking their lives to protest their government standing out on the street also saying, "Please, America, come into my country and save me from my government." I don't think this is happening.
Have their been human rights violations on the part of the Iranian military? It certainly appears to be so. Do you believe the Iranian government's intimation that a BBC journalist hired some thugs to shoot Neda on Saturday so he'd have some good video?
What we have seen over the Internet the past few weeks are images that the world is smaller now than it was in mid-June. American citizens probably feel closer now to the man-on-the-street in Iran than we probably ever have. We know they're mad about their government. We know their families are hurting and in danger of being confused and accused of protesting. We know that people are in hiding. I know of a mother and daughter from here in the Dallas area who have been over there to visit a grandmother and it's been quite hard to find them.
What happens now? After thinking about what we've seen, people fighting internally in their nation for what they believe in, would it be right at this point to even joke about Bombing Iran? Seriously?