How Different are the U.S. and Iran?

The West is rightly horrified by the scenes of police violence against protesters in Iran*.

But how different is American?

According to Department of Defense training manuals, protest is considered “low-level terrorism”. And see this.

An FBI memo also labels peace protesters as “terrorists”.

Indeed, police have been terrorizing children, little old ladies and other “dangerous” people who attempted to protest peacefully.

And just as the Iranian government is cracking down on journalists, a 2003 FBI memo describes protesters’ use of videotaping as an “intimidation” technique, even though – as the ACLU points out – “Most mainstream demonstrators often use videotape during protests to document law enforcement activity and, more importantly, deter police from acting outside the law.” The FBI appears to be objecting to the use of cameras to document unlawful behavior by law enforcement itself.

The Internet has been labeled as a breeding ground for terrorists, with anyone who questions the government’s versions of history being especially equated with terrorists.

And the state of Missouri tried to label as terrorists current Congressman Ron Paul and his supporters, former Congressman Bob Barr, libertarians in general, anyone who holds gold, and a host of other people.

Indeed, the government labels anyone who disagrees with it a “terrorist”, and government apologists are eager to label anyone “taking a cynical stance toward politics, mistrusting authority, endorsing democratic practices, … and displaying an inquisitive, imaginative outlook” as worthy of a Stalinist trip to the insane asylum.

But There Hasn’t Been Mass Police Violence in America

You will no doubt argue that comparing the U.S. to Iran is nonsense, as there hasn’t been mass violence in America like we’ve seen in Iran.

Well, there were the Kent state shootings.

And at the RNC protests last year, police fired rubber bullets, teargas, pepper spray and concussion grenades at protesters, then arrested them en masse.

But I think the most important reason that police violence against protesters appears to be less in American than Iran is that the Iranian protests threaten to become a mass movement, while the Americans have largely been cowed into quiet complacency. If American protests were large and aggressive, the police would use at least as much violence as the Iranians are using.

I’m not trying to single out the U.S. The UK, Italy and other countries are becoming more violent well.

Of course the U.S. tortures people at least as brutally as Iran, but that’s another story.

*Note: I’m not taking any position on who really won the Iranian election, as I have no insight into this issue. Also, as stated above, I obviously condemn the Iranian police brutality.

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