Much Outrage Over Small Differences

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Packer responds once again to his critics:

 A number of writers seem to know exactly what the Iranians in the streets want from us, and what they want is for us to stay out of it. I wonder how many Iranians these writers have talked to. But even if you don’t have Iranian contacts, you can still try to imagine your way into the situation of the protesters. Every day you have to summon the courage to go out into the streets (where the death toll is now reportedly at thirty-two), and your awareness of international opinion is steadily diminishing as Internet and phone access is choked off. A part of your mind is alert to the danger of being labeled an American agent, always a factor in the regime’s propaganda; but given the enormous risks you’re already running, a much larger part of your mind is afraid that the world is going to lose interest or write you off, that the regime is going to stop feeling any international pressure to behave with restraint, and that when the guns start mowing protesters down in earnest, no one will be watching. When the stakes are this high, being the object of too much foreign concern is not likely to be your number one fear.

Governments have to be careful. But people do not. That's where Western civil society can help. Blogs, broadcasts, emails, demonstrations, wearing green: anything we can do to let these brave people know we see them, we back them, we revere them is vital.And I think a great deal of the pile-on on Packer is over-done. Emotions are running high. George's posts strike me as measured and wise and engaged.

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