Ronald Reagan, speaking to Evangelicals about the Soviet Union, in 1983:
Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness — pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world…. I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man.
(See also Reagan on the crackdowns in Poland.)
Natan Sharansky, regarding the power Reagan’s words gave dissidents in their daily fight against the cognitive dissonance created by living under a Soviet regime that routinely perverted simple truths:
It was the great brilliant moment when we learned that Ronald Reagan had proclaimed the Soviet Union an Evil Empire before the entire world. This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell’s Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union. It was one of the most important, freedom-affirming declarations, and we all instantly knew it. For us, that was the moment that really marked the end for them, and the beginning for us. The lie had been exposed and could never, ever be untold now. This was the end of Lenin’s “Great October Bolshevik Revolution” and the beginning of a new revolution, a freedom revolution — Reagan’s Revolution.
Barack Obama regarding citizen protests in Iran against a manifestly rigged election:
“It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling … in Iranian elections,” Obama said. “What I will repeat, and what I said yesterday, is when I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, … it is of concern to me and it is of concern to the American people. That is not how governments should interact with their people, and it is my hope the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices.”
to meddle (verb):
to involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly: Stop meddling in my personal life!
Iranian citizens went into their election knowing it was rigged. How could it not have been when the only candidates were four men hand-picked by the mullahs. Nevertheless, Iranians had at least the illusion of democracy, because they could vote and, presumably, their votes would count as to those four party men. The disillusion arose because the mullah’s expressed their disdain for even this pale simulation of Democracy. Rather than allowing the Iranian’s meaningless votes to appear to matter, they thumbed their noses at the whole process and appointed their guy instead. It’s one thing to suspect that you’re being played for a fool, but still to be able to assume some semblance of dignity. It’s another thing to be exposed as a fool, and to have the small dram of dignity stripped away entirely. Shame is a powerful motivator, and the Iranians have been shamed by their own government.
With shame at their back, Iranians have taken to the streets in numbers unseen since the revolution in 1979. The lines are clear: on one side are unarmed citizens demanding that their rulers reconcile their pseudo-democratic rhetoric with actual democratic acts; on the other side are guns. Faced with this situation in the past, Ronald Reagan unashamedly stood up in support of the citizens. As leader of the free world, Reagan understood that, if he did not speak out for freedom, he would essentially be disarming those brave citizens armed only with their belief in the American concept of liberal and the rights of individuals.
Our current President’s approach is strikingly different. Obama has declined to make any statement whatsoever, because he is afraid to meddle. The past meddling to which he refers, of course, is to the CIA’s active participation in overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq back in 1953, and putting in his place the Shah of Iran. Now that was some serious meddling.
Here, Obama is not being asked to do anything, he is just being asked to say something. As we’ve noted before, though, Obama believes his words are the equivalent of acts. God-like, he believes that, if he were to say “let there be . . . something (such as light),” that means that there will be this . . . something (such as light). For this reason, he believes that his taking a Reaganesque posture and speaking out openly against evil, corruption, and antidemocratic impulses is identical to the physical act of placing a bomb under the Mullahs and lighting the fuse. In his own mind, his powers of speech are so tremendous that thought and deed are inseparable.
Taking away Obama’s belief in his own mystical powers, Reagan has proven that speech can change people’s behaviors. There is tremendous power in making a moral speech at a pivotal time. That was what Sharansky was saying about Reagan’s mere words: when you live in a corrupt society that forces people to accept as true things their own senses tell them are false, having someone “call a spade a spade” is, in fact, the equivalent of letting there be light. Speaking truth to evil shines a light on that evil and lets oppressed people believe in themselves and their cause.
The importance of speaking truth to evil is incalculable. For people who have no tangible weapons, their only weapon is their belief in the truth. Without that, they are simply so many targets for well-armed totalitarian regime.
What this means is that Obama, though his silence is in fact meddling, because he’s taking sides. Without creating a light of freedom to shine the way for Iran’s oppressed masses, he is casting his (and America’s) whole weight on the side with the guns. There is no middle ground here. You’re either for freedom or you’re against it, and if you refuse to raise your voice for freedom, you’ve loaded another bullet in the oppressor’s gun.