June 2009

I’ve added a link to Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish blog at The Atlantic. He and others there have been liveblogging the events unfolding in Iran. Very valuable source of information.


It seemed clear last week that sitting Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a tenuous, at best, hold on popular opinion in the run-up to Iran’s presidential elections. Iran’s huge urban youth population overwhelmingly supported a moderate reformer, Mir Hossein Moussavi, who had promised more personal freedom for Iranians and more outreach to the rest of the world.

Riots have broken out in Iran to protest what is being called a rigged election.

Riots have broken out in Iran to protest what is being called a rigged election. (Photo via Agence France Presse)

When the results came in Friday, they showed that Ahmadinejad had won handily — prompting immediate cries of fraud in Tehran and around the rest of the world. Iranians took to the streets in protest, despite a government ban. Rioters faced police squads equipped with tear gas and clubs; photos and YouTube videos linked to by Twitter users have shown people, including women, being savagely beaten by riot police.

They’re still out there now — in Tehran, perhaps more than a million have gathered in the city’s “Freedom Square,” and reports of at least one fatal shooting are emerging from the protest, now more than 72 hours since it began.

This is going on now, so details are difficult to sort out. Christopher Hitchens, who has spent some time writing about Iran and its leaders, cautions not to call what happened in Tehran an election in his Slate.com column.

Twitterers are providing live coverage (which they have harshly criticized American cable networks for failing to do) of the event, which you can follow using any of these:

Twitterers near Tehran
Real-time images posted via PicFog.

Update: Boston.com has a hi-res series of some of the most stirring images from the ongoing protest. Some are graphic.

Kansas physician George Tiller, long renowned for being one of the nation’s handful of late-term (and partial-birth) abortion providers, was shot and killed in a Wichita church Sunday, when a lone gunman entered the building and fired a single bullet from a handgun at him.

Arrested for the crime was one Scott Roeder, who, as far as I am currently aware, is now in the Sedgewick County jail awaiting charges.

The killing has predictably become a lightning rod in the abortion debate in the U.S. Some pro-choice groups have condemned the act as terrorism, and several large pro-life representatives, such as Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry, have found it difficult to completely denounce the act. Dan Holman, of Missionaries to the Preborn Iowa, told CNN’s Drew Griffin “I don’t advocate Tiller’s murder, but I don’t condemn it.”

Leave aside for the moment the rather obvious problems tenant to simultaneously calling oneself “pro-life” and rejoicing (either publicly or privately) at the vigilante execution of a human being. The far-reaching result of Tiller’s killing (above and beyond the grief and loss his family is undegoing) will be to re-polarize the abortion debate, drastically narrowing the common ground spoken of by the president at his recent commencement address at Notre Dame University.

Absent in almost all rhetoric in the abortion debate is the recognition that people of good faith exist on both opposing sides. The inability to empathize with the other side is what leads to events like Sunday’s slaying of Tiller in his place of worship — the idea that the opposing side consists solely of evil-minded people who want to either murder babies or strip women of their reproductive rights. This works well for the purposes of preaching to the proverbial choir, and little else — unless, of course, you count inciting deranged psychopaths to take their twisted personal sense of justice into their own hands.