It's not revolution, exactly, but wearing a Toby Keith t-shirt is more subversive than you might think.
A young man votes in Tehran / Mehr News Agency
In the mass theater piece that is today's parliamentary election in Iran, one of the players showed up with an unwelcome prop. A young man voted in Tehran this morning, as shown in the above photo, while wearing a t-shirt that would be considered ironic in the U.S. but seems downright rebellious in Iran. In case you can't make it out, the shirt reads, "God Bless America / Toby Keith / Pre-Concert Party / October 8, 2004." There's an American flag on the shirt, which is a bold fashion choice any day in Iran, but especially on a day when the state-run media are out and the security services are likely to be even touchier than usual.
The photo is funny -- this kid's got chutzpah -- but it's also a reminder of the challenges of protesting Iran's political system, and even of the complex and sometimes contradictory nature of cultural tension between Iran and the West.
This is Iran's first election since the rigged 2009 vote that reinstated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and launched the "green movement" protests, and the government is taking them very seriously. We in the West often take Iranian elections as a farce, and it's true that the country is not a democracy, but it does have some modest democratic features. Elected legislatures have actual powers (though not many), reformist parties are represented (though not well), and while the unelected Supreme Leader dominates the government, citizens do expect a say. After Iran's global humiliation in the 2009 election, everyone is eager to see how Iran's "democracy" functions.