“If you want to serve the age, betray it”
I think what we are seeing in Iran is the inverse of the above quote. If you want to betray the age, serve it. What I mean is that for years the Iranian government has insisted that it has a democratic basis for its legitmacy – the people you see on the streets are taking that at face value now and demanding that their votes be counted. In effect they are saying, “we have been told this is a democracy, now count our votes.” Which is far more devastating to the regime than a sort of cynical detached shrug that says, “who cares, my vote doesn’t count.” This is an invitation to do nothing – to see the flaw in the regime and yet nonetheless sustain it.
What is more delicious is that the chant of protest is “Allahu akbar” or “God is great” – again, this is an Islamic Republic so who can be chastised for exalting God? This is probably why Khamenei and company are threatening to take such a hard line with the protesters, they have co-opted everything for which the regime claims to stand. By taking seriously the claims of their government, the people of Iran are now undermining it.