Why Aren’t There Millions of Iranians in the Streets?

People keep asking me how come the Iranian people seem to be missing in action amidst the Middle Eastern insurrection. Fair enough. No matter that the whole process was kicked off, and inspired by, the massive demonstrations in the streets of Iran’s major cities following the electoral fraud of June, 2009. There is fighting in Libya, and there is slaughter in Syria, but so far as we can see from our newspapers and TV coverage, the only thing going on in Iran is continued repression by the regime and not much in the way of pushback from the people. If it is true, I am asked, that the overwhelming majority of Iranians hate the regime, why aren’t they doing more to bring it down?

My first answer is that they are doing quite a bit to bring it down, but it is no longer in the form to which we had become accustomed: big public demonstrations calling for an end to the regime. To be sure, some elements of those protests are still very much with us, such as the chanting of “death to the dictator” from the rooftops in the big cities. But there are no longer large gatherings of protesters, even on university campuses, which have long been centers of protest.

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