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Popularizing misconceptions about Iran’s Green Movement

Blurred Vision, a Canadian band comprised of two brothers originally from Iran, just released a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall, part II” with a slight lyrical twist that changes the song’s antagonist from controlling teachers to the repressive Iranian regime. The new chorus supports the many young people who protested Ahmadinejad’s reelection by demanding, “Hey Ayatollah, leave those kids alone.”

The music video goes a little further with its message, showing a fictional young Iranian woman on the run from what appears to be the Basij militia as she tries to upload footage from a protest on her iPhone. The video is inter cut with actual footage taken by Iranian protesters, depicting protesters getting beaten by government forces.

While it’s hard to criticize artists who clearly mean well and care more about their political message than their commercial appeal, there are a couple popular misconceptions being forwarded by this song and video. As we’ve written about before, the role of social media has been greatly overstated—not only does it provide questionable information from a small segment of the Iranian population (wealthy, educated city dwellers who dislike Ahmadinejad’s social welfare programs) but it’s also not a reliable way to organize protests given the government’s penchant for internet crackdown.

Like everyone else trying to follow Iran from afar, the members of Blurred Vision may be (pardon the pun) blinded by their desire to see Iranians win greater freedom and civil liberties to the point where they are overlooking and distorting key facts. In a CNN interview they refer to the June elections as “rigged”—something even the mainstream magazine Foreign Policy says is untrue, citing a recent report from the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

It’s important to point out these misconceptions because if furthered they could lead to several undesirable consequences, such as the justification for a US intervention or the installation of a new president without the fundamental changes to Iran’s political structure necessary for real change. As discussed in previous posts, the only way the Green Movement can hope to be successful is to support radical reform that incorporates not just the social reform everyone in Iranian society desires but economic reform that meets the needs of the poor.