Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Demonstration in Iran-geles

There is a neighborhood (or two) in West Los Angeles that has so many Iranian expatriots that it is often called "Irangeles." Here is a demonstration at the Federal Building in Westwood (a few blocks down the street from UCLA - which has large numbers of Iranian-American students). This post is really for LTG. LTG LOVES flags. As you watch the video notice that several fights nearly break out because some of the demonstrators are carrying the old Pahlavi flag of Iran (with a lion holding a sword) instead of the current flag.

This is interesting because it exposes the lack of unity in the anti-Ahmadinejad demonstrators (at least among the expats). On the one hand this suggests that this is turning into a broad based anti-regime event rather than a demand for redress for Mousavi's presidential campaign. On the other, it reveals the problem of transforming a demonstration or series of demonstration into a focussed revolution with identifiable goals and a viable alternative to the status quo.

BTW: Southern California has had problems with flag politics among the immigrants before. Several years ago, a Vietnamese-American man was nearly killed by an angry mob because he displayed the current flag of Vietnam in his shop window instead of the old flag of South Vietnam.


The Law Talking Guy said...

These monarchists hold regular demonstrations at the federal building in West Los Angeles. I seriously doubt they are in any way connected with what is going on in Iran now. In fact, if the protestors in modern Iran saw these protestors, they would likely be horrified.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I should add that every year for the Persian New Year, billboards go up in the Irangeles area with pictures of the Shah. My mind is playing tricks on me. There is a word for these people. It's not recidivist or revanchist, but it's similar.

Raised By Republicans said...

Revanchist kind of fits, don't you think? Rummy would call them "dead enders."

Raised By Republicans said...

By the way, I think there were different groups at this demonstration in Westwood. The regulars might be the old Shah supporters but I definately saw several younger people trying to take away the Pahlavist flags away.

The Law Talking Guy said...

A comment on flags. Lots of people pretend or act like these flag battles are quaint, historical, weird, overly symbolic or academic or... or not "real world" -whatever. Burn a US flag in front of these people and see how they react. Symbols matter a lot. Symbols are how we communicate, and flags are very potent symbols because you can quite literally wave them in people's faces. There's a reason why banners and flags have been at the forefront of western political movements for nearly 1000 years.

Flags make very powerful statements. In the USA, we do not use flags for domestic politics much in terms of political parties. Our political parties do not have flags or colors. This is probably because they were not originally very ideological in nature. It is a very good thing too, because it cuts down on animosity.

However, we do use flags other than the US flag for a variety of reasons. On regular display you can see the POW/MIA flag, rainbow flags, the confederate flag, Mexican flag, the yellow "don't tread on me" flag, and the "christian" flag. I wonder what internal flags are used in Australia, for example. I'm sure there are those.

Pombat said...

Um, the only flag that immediately springs to mind as a political one is the Aboriginal flag, which represents the red earth and the sun above. That can be seen at protests ranging from more rights & recognition for Aboriginal peoples (which goes hand in hand with more recognition that 'we' - current Australia - have responsibilities to make amends for the wrongs done to them), to republic protests. A lot of Australians actually hate the Australian flag because of it's colonial overtones and obvious historical links. It also looks a lot like the New Zealand flag which, again, has those colonial overtones. These pictures aren't too great - the background blue on all of them should be the same as the UK's Union Jack.

Burning the Australian flag in front of an Aussie would be unlikely to get the same kind of reaction as you'd get from the average American. The exception of course being if you managed to find yourselves one of the nationalistic bogan morons such as those responsible for the violence at the Cronulla riots, and other shameful incidents. These guys are the ones who believe that only white people are Australian, and despite often being only first or second generation Aussies themselves, will happily view themselves as more Australian than, say, a person of Chinese descent whose ancestors moved over in the early eighteen hundreds, and even as more Aussie than an Aboriginal person. Like I said, bogan morons.
(note: not all bogans are like this - bogan can also be used to proudly describe yourself, it's one of those weird words where the tone of voice makes it clear whether it's an insult or term of endearment.)

Other flags? Well, there's the rainbow flag, which seems pretty much global to me. There are also flags for each State and Territory, but to be honest they're pretty lame, and most people wouldn't recognise them (each State/Territory also has an official flower, and an official bird - good pub trivia questions...).

Immigrant groups also have their flags of course, although these don't tend to be used politically, more as a sign of pride in their heritage.

Pombat said...

n the UK, there are also flags for different shires etc, due to the history of the country pretty much requiring them. As for Aus though, most people wouldn't recognise them these days, since we're no longer serfs to a lord, following his flag...

The rainbow flag again makes an appearance as a recognised flag for protests etc.

Of course each country in the UK also has its own flags, and these are recognised by the locals, with everyone hanging their flags out of windows to support their rugby/soccer teams in the World Cups... The Union Jack link above shows how the English (aka St George's cross), Scottish (aka St Andrew's cross) and Irish (well, the Northern bit, this is St Patrick's saltire) flags combined to make the Union Jack. The Welsh flag doesn't really contribute, but hey, it's probably the best flag of the four!

The Union Jack is getting quite political in the UK (not just the colonies!), as the BNP, British National Party, aka bunch of neo-nazi wingnuts, have co-opted it as their symbol. There have been some high profile cases such as a white British police officer (nothing to do with the BNP) being told that he had to wear a large bandage to cover the Union Jack tattoo he had on his arm because it was offensive to an Indian-descent colleague of his (don't know if the colleague was Indian or British born). This of course caused a great media fuss, with the over-riding public opinion being that anyone being paid to serve the country - e.g. police officers - should never complain about the flag of the country.

USwest said...

I am reminded of a stand up routine by Eddie Izzard where he talks about flags. "We stole countries! That's how you build an empire. We stole countries with the cunning use of flags! Just sail halfway around the world, stick a flag in. . . 'I claim India for Britain.' And they're going, 'You can't claim us. We live here! There's five hundred million of us.'
'Do you have a flag?'
'We don't need a flag, this is our country you bastard.'"

You can see the clip (I hope- YouTube is blocked here, too)

Pombat said...

"Well, I have a flag. And I'm backing it up with this gun."

(or words to that effect. Love that man, particularly the accents)