A Tale of Two Towns, A Tale of Two Worlds

A Tale of Two Towns, A Tale of Two Worlds
June 18, 2009
An interesting week…

When I started writing this I was filled with images from my college-like road trip with several friends as we attempted to get home last Friday night when service was halted due to a rockslide on the tracks. My desire to sleep in my own bed was visceral and shared by my companions also wanted to be at hom. Four hyper-responsible adults became young adults again, momentarily celebrating the joy of being on the road. We laughed, exchanged stories, commiserated and celebrated ourselves while sharing wine and food as we were being driven north. It was a remarkable moment incorporating youth and adulthood. I cannot completely share its wonder with words. Finally we all reached home and hearth and I slipped into the welcoming arms of Morpheus.

The following day was centered on the Flag Day Parade that consumed Warren Street [think Main Street] in Hudson; Flag Day is Hudson’s 4th of July – the parade went on for two hours with every volunteer fire department, school marching band, etc. making its way down the street to the riverfront. It was a celebration of small town America, of a way of life that seems slipping away.

A column in the NY Times mused on how Hudson’s Parade was perhaps no longer a town celebration but a show for the upscale newcomers. I don’t agree with that – Hudson is an interesting mixture. The town’s inhabitants and newcomers are mingling together and there is an interesting community evolving. Beyond Warren Street the earthy grittiness of tough town Hudson still exists, a town once best known for its brothels – not the antique stores that have recently made it famous.

While we were celebrating Flag Day, across the world a drama was beginning to play out – Iran was holding elections. We were celebrating the adoption of the flag, our symbol for all that we feel America stands. Going into the Iranian elections there was a sense of buoyancy. The generally unpopular Ahmadinejad looked to be toppled by a rival, Mousavi, in the June 12 election.

Iran and the world seemed giddy at the chance for change. When results were announced Ahmadinejad was said to have won by a landslide.

Iran is a young country; a majority of the population is under thirty. That majority, largely supporting Mousavi, did not take the announcement well, smelling a rat in the ballot box. The protests have now been going on for four days and look like they will be continuing – the marches continued today to mourn those who have died. The protests have taken on the mantle of something larger. Internally and externally, the protests are being carefully watched to determine if this might not be a brewing revolution.

Thirty years ago youthful Iranians brought down the pro-Western and much despised Shah. Now youthful Iranians are chafing under the rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran and were pinning their hopes on Mousavi. All polls pointed toward his winning. Against them the landslide nature of Ahmadinejad’s victory did not seem plausible, hence the beginning of the protests.

To the surprise of ruling elders, efforts to suppress the protests have been outmaneuvered by the use of Twitter. Yes, Twitter. While the current rulers are curtailing access of regular reporters, young Iranians are using their mobile phones to “twitter” out pictures and short commentaries that are now being followed breathlessly around the world. Major news organizations are closely scrutinizing the photographs to make sure they are real and most seem to be.

Social networking tool, Twitter, is being used by Iranians to coordinate the actions and disseminate information when normal outlets have been closed to them. So significant is the role of Twitter in this series of events that what is going on in Iran is beginning to be called “the Twitter Revolution.”

Twitter is helping Iranians move toward a day when they can have a Flag Day for themselves, hopefully to celebrate the same kinds of freedoms we honor on our Flag Day. One of their flags colors is green; it’s become the color of protest. I will wear some green in solidarity today.

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One Response to “A Tale of Two Towns, A Tale of Two Worlds”

  1. Tor de Vries Says:

    Nicely written (as usual).

    Twitter is so important to the Iranian struggle right now that the White House asked Twitter to reschedule a system upgrade so that downtime would occur during Iran’s nighttime, even though that puts it mid-afternoon for the U.S.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssTechMediaTelecomNews/idUSWBT01137420090616

    http://blog.twitter.com/2009/06/down-time-rescheduled.html

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