An open letter to the Iranian people

People of Iran:

Traditionally, the president of the United States has been the spokesperson for the people of the United States — or, at least, for a majority of the people of the United States.  For the first time in modern history, however, we have a president who appears incapable of giving voice to the American people.  I therefore address this letter to you in the hope that, in the vacuum President Obama has created, you can hear our voices and know that we stand behind you in your brave fight against a government that has turned against you.

America was created based upon certain fundamental beliefs about the nature of man and man’s relationship to his government.  First, we believe that all people are born free, equal and, provided that they do not impinge too much on their fellow citizens, with the right to make their own lives as happy as possible.  Second, we believe that government exists to facilitate these fundamental rights.  And third, we believe that, when government fails in its responsibilities, the people may rebel.  Thus, our Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

When Americans see you in the streets fighting for your freedom against a government that controls your every move, that makes a mockery of your votes and that, when you speak out, tortures and kills you, we feel in the very marrow of our being that you are fighting the good fight.  In homes and in offices, on blogs and in letters to the editor, and in the halls of government, Americans applaud your courage.  We want you to cast off the chains that deprive you of the liberty to which each person on earth (man and woman) is entitled.

We want you to live in a country in which all people can speak out freely, worship their God as their conscience demands, and move about without fear that their government will constrain or control them.  We recognize that, as an Islamic society, your concept of free speech, free worship, and free movement are almost certainly more narrow than ours.  Nevertheless, we believe that any limitations placed on speech, worship and movement should come from the people themselves, and not from a group of unelected rulers who brook no challenges to their power.

It is very painful, therefore, for many of us in America to watch President Barack Obama’s almost complete paralysis when it comes to speaking out for freedom.  Certainly, it’s unclear why he is so tongue-tied in the face of a rebellion that calls out to every American.  Is he silent because he thinks that the people of Iran cannot prevail?  If that’s the case, he shows a remarkably short memory, since the people of Iran were able to bring sweeping changes to their society a mere thirty years ago.  That was a revolution away from freedom.  I hope that this is a revolution towards freedom.

Or perhaps President Obama is silent because he believes that America has, at various times in her history, deviated from the path of freedom.  I hope that’s not the case either.  It would be a shocking thing if America, rather than constantly working to obtain freedom for all people, whether at home or abroad, instead decided that she was unworthy of the goal.  Even if Barack Obama thinks that America can no longer aspire towards a world “with liberty and justice for all,” I know that the majority of Americans do believe that liberty and justice are universal goals, and that we should always speak up for those who seek to obtain those national treasures.

Because President Obama’s silence is inconsistent with deeply held American values, I sincerely hope that you, the Iranian people, ignore him and listen to our voices.  Presidents come and Presidents go (one of the virtues of a truly free electoral system), but American values last.  We, the Americans, support your fight and wish you well.