Two weeks ago, Time magazine once again proved to have little appreciation for the US Constitution when it announced that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was its “person of the year 2009.” He deserved this honor, the magazine’s editors said, because he “has dramatically expanded” the Fed “and reinvented it.” In other words, because he used the economic crisis as an excuse to radically increase the size of government.
Today, the British editors of the Times of London proved to have a much better understanding of what truly matters:
Neda Soltan was not political. She did not vote in the Iranian presidential election on June 12. The young student was appalled, however, by the way that the regime shamelessly rigged the result and reinstalled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.Ignoring the pleas of her family, she went with her music teacher eight days later to join a huge opposition demonstration in Tehran.
She was no less of an icon inside Iran, whose Shia population is steeped in the mythology of martyrdom. Vigils were held. Her grave became something of a shrine, and the 40th day after her death — an important date in Shia mourning rituals — was marked by a big demonstration in Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in Tehran that riot police broke up…
Six months on, it is obvious that Ms Soltan did not die in vain. The manner of her death, and the regime’s response, has shredded what little legitimacy it had left. She helped to inspire an opposition movement that is now led by her generation, which a systematic campaign of arrests, show trials, beatings, torture and security force violence has failed to crush, and whose courage and defiance has won the admiration of the world.
There couldn’t have been a better winner this year. Unlike Bernanke, Soltan actually did something positive. In fact, she’s nothing less than a hero. Not only is she the one and only person of the year 2009, the “Quote of the Year” should also go to her, as far as I’m concerned:
“Even if a bullet goes through my heart it’s not important,” she told Caspian Makan, her fiancé. “What we’re fighting for is more important. When it comes to taking our stolen rights back we should not hesitate. Everyone is responsible. Each person leaves a footprint in this world.”
What great courage and what a great source of inspiration she should be to all those who love freedom, no matter where they live.
By the way, although I criticized Andrew Sullivan earlier today (for his support for Levi Johnston), I believe he’s doing an amazing job covering the Green Revolution. He deserves a lot of appreciation for the work he puts into informing all of us about the latest developments in Iran. Without his undying commitment to Iran’s pro-democracy movement, many of us would have no idea what’s happening in that country.