The Will of the People

I was watching an interview by [shudder] Glenn Beck in a post at Belgravia Dispatch, and the interviewee — Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute — spouts a line similar to a lot of the happy-talk that led up to the Iraq war. Speaking about Iran, he cites an incident where a dormitory was attacked by the government and a week of rioting ensued. Despite the Iranian government being able to control that outbreak of violence, his take on it was “Eventually it’s going to spin out of control.”

According to Rubin, Iranian people aren’t “in tune” with the government, they listen to stuff the government doesn’t like, there’s grafitti for 50 Cent on the walls, etc. The people are like a fresh date, ready to be plucked from the hands of the mullahs.

I’d like to direct Mr. Rubin to some histories of the US in the 1960s. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, there were riots in scores of cities across the country: Chicago, Denver, Baltimore. There were days of riots in Chicago outside the Democratic convention. For nearly a decade after the Watts riots of 1965, there were riots, massive demonstrations, and other forms of civil disobedience related to racial relations and the Vietnam War. But the US government didn’t fall. The hippies and the African-Americans didn’t take over.

Forty years later, they still haven’t. Which is maybe something people like Rubin should keep in mind the next time he gets all gooey about the people rising up. Because sometimes it doesn’t work.