Thursday, July 10, 2003

The reprisal against Iranian student protesters has not received a lot of press over here, so thanks to Andrew Sullivan for a bitter shot of reality. In my over-stimulated, technological, desensitized existence, it's the rare photograph of brutality that illicits much more than a "oh no" from me. I intellectually understand brutality and death, and I respond appropriately, but these images usually do not seep under the skin. It's a necessary defense mechanism, if somewhat unfeeling. So I was surprised at my own reaction to these pictures of a Tehran University dorm room after a police raid. And these photos of some of the victims. Heads up: some of these images are quite disturbing.

I have certain lofty, idealistic, and altogether nostalgic associations with campus life and dorm life. Here in America, there's something hedonistic and carefree about it all. The stiffest curmudgeon will have a longing glint in his eye if asked about his college hijinks. My brother's dorm would throw beds out the windows. My dorm mates would build 12 foot tall snow penises. Everybody has their story about yakking in inappropriate places. Armed with such an arsenal of associations, I was not prepared to see dorm life for the Iranian protester. It looks to me like the death of innocence, though I'm sure that died in those halls long ago. There are blood stains where we had vomit stains. Strewn trash and clothing spread by an officer's rampage, not debaucherous dorm parties. We protested something having to do with Asian American Studies and then went to the football game. They're brutalized for voicing opposition to an oppressive theocracy.

It's terribly sobering and leaves me at a loss and not a little ashamed.


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