Probably the most overlooked aspect of the “flags on the sidewalk” phenomenon in Iran is that, as the regime paints those flags everywhere, hoping Iranians will step on them, it is basically symbolizing its – the regime’s – effective “occupation” by its obsession with the Great Satan and the Little Satan.
Not focusing on that point is as it should be, of course. The nobility and honor of Iranians who refuse to tread on the foreign flags are what is most important. Americans and Israelis are awed to see such courageous signs of goodwill and respect. I know I speak for many when I say we wish we had more direct ways to convey our reciprocal admiration and support to the Iranian people.
Just like the protesters in the streets of Iran are chanting:”They are lying that our enemy is America, the real enemy is here!", protesting students of Melli University of Tehran, refuse to walk over US & Israeli flags and boo people who do. pic.twitter.com/oM6J8UyGzs
— Darya Safai MP (@SafaiDarya) January 12, 2020
— Sara Firth (@Sara__Firth) January 12, 2020
But the “Trump effect” is still worth mentioning. In the U.S., it often manifests through something President Trump has said or tweeted (or is alleged to have said), which Trump himself doesn’t bother to address further, but which his media and political opponents then spend days repeating and amplifying, as if they just can’t help themselves.
A good example: the “sh**hole country” episode. There’s a dispute as to whether Trump even used that expression during a meeting at the White House with congressional leaders (some who were present insist he didn’t say it, and there was no clear video or audio evidence). But for days after the allegation was made – i.e., that Trump said it alluding negatively to poor, less-developed nations – the mainstream media said “sh**hole country” over and over and over and over again.
When they weren’t saying it amongst themselves in news talk segments, they were interviewing Democratic politicians who repeated it indignantly in order to call out Trump. It was as if a spell had been cast on them all, and they couldn’t break free of the compulsion to say “sh**hole country.”
The barrage of repetitions was so noticeable, some on the right made video compilations of them. Trump, meanwhile, went on about his business, like the stock character in comedy who wanders through scenes unintentionally leaving mayhem in his wake.
This picture is worth a million words pic.twitter.com/nTr2Et9pyM
— Yasmine Mohammed ياسمين محمد 🦋 (@YasMohammedxx) January 15, 2020
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) January 16, 2020
His opponents painted Trump’s brand all over themselves, with their own hands, and made themselves look like fools. (It remains extra-humorous that it’s possible Trump never actually uttered those words in the first place.)
There was a time – call it two weeks ago – when no one would have imagined the Iranian regime painting its territory over with the flags of the United States and Israel. Step back for a moment from the regime’s intent, which is to induce people to trample on the painted flags. What the regime is actually doing is obsessively painting those flags everywhere – on its own territory.
Who is living rent-free in whose head? Who is “occupying” whom?
One thing this is not about is America or Israel somehow dominating Iran. That never is actually the case with the “Trump effect,” and it certainly isn’t here. The Iranian people show that clearly, by displaying character, volition, and dignity when confronted with the flags of other nations. They are choosing how to behave, and choosing like free men and women making a moral decision.
It’s the regime alone that comes off looking whipsawed and obsessed. “Iran,” as expressed through the people, looks like a bright light that’s been turned on.
At a mosque in Khuzestan, Iran, a single pair of shoes sits on the American and Israeli flags placed as as a mat for shoes. Everyone else went out of their way to respect the flags — and this is among the pious. pic.twitter.com/5PWLsnnNe7
— Mike (@Doranimated) January 16, 2020
The mullahs can’t even play it cool. A choleric religious leader railed at Iranians in an address on the topic, proclaiming that students who refuse to walk on the foreign flags should be killed, as agents of the U.S. and Israel.
“British ambassador in Iran should be butchered "
A threat by Ahmad Alamolhoda, Friday Prayer leader & member of the Assembly of Experts, chosen by Khamenei.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 16, 2020
Since they’re not getting the action they want from ordinary Iranians, they turned out some Basij operatives and their family members and associates to stage a big flag-dissing as a video-op.
Supporters of the Islamic Republic (Basij) standing on the US and Israeli flag !!!! But the students are sitting behind them, holding a circle of peace and friendship. The Iranian people are against the will of the Islamic Republic #FreeIran2020 https://t.co/uiidlZxgiz
— 👑_Free___iran_👑 (@SaraEs56350720) January 15, 2020
The government’s families & elites who are in the minority in Iran. The tiny group that have power & wealth, Khmeneie’s thugs, the ones who oppress Iranian people are demonstrating themselves in this footage.#IranProtests2020 pic.twitter.com/KXcrJ24Ry3
— Monica (@Maana_hd) January 16, 2020
But Iranian students gathered next to them and held a protest vigil, away from the flags.
On an Iranian road, the flag of the UK was added to those of the U.S. and Israel, and the driver in this video swerved to avoid all three.
Interesting video of a driver in #Iran refusing to drive over painted flags of Israel, the United States & the United Kingdom.
The Iranian people do not follow the mullahs' propaganda & refuse to disrespect other nations. pic.twitter.com/QL55ywjZni
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) January 16, 2020
(A number of the comments from Americans on Twitter urged Iranians to be careful and not hurt themselves in their efforts to avoid driving over flags painted on the roadways. God bless the USA.)
The Iranian regime’s focus on those three particular flags has quite a telling aspect to it. It’s certainly food for thought.
Exit point: in the U.S. and UK, the anger of the media and the “deep state” is conveniently expressed as mouth-foaming fury at Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Brexiteers, the Brexit Party – but it’s really about the people in both countries rejecting the political path in which the deep state is invested.
The frenzied, self-owning flag-painting by the radical regime in Iran is really about the same thing.