For a veteran of the 60s, who was a happy witness to Solidarity in Poland, the Velvet Revolution, South Africa, all the liberation movements in Eastern Europe as the Wall fell, the Iranian revolutionaries--because after today, that's what they are--exert a powerful and emotional pull. Their choice of the peace sign itself is powerful and irresistible. My barely informed impression is that this is very much a youth movement as well, and most particularly, a movement of women. This photo and others like it collected by Al Rodgers at Kos (who admittedly has an eye for the ladies) make a definite impression, but other reporting support this notion. Roger Cohen in the New York Times--one of the few professionals reporting, along with the citizen reporters on YouTube and Twitter, etc.--makes this point as well: "I also know that Iran’s women stand in the vanguard. For days now, I’ve seen them urging less courageous men on. I’ve seen them get beaten and return to the fray. “Why are you sitting there?” one shouted at a couple of men perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. “Get up! Get up!”
This revolution by women and the young comes as a revelation to the rest of the world, and a shock to our simplistic media cliches, but it obviously has been building for quite awhile. It's also noteworthy that Iranians now living in cities in the U.S. and all over the world were quick to take to the streets in support of those marching in Tehran.
Exactly what happened in Iran on Saturday is not yet fully known, except the significance of defying the nation's official spiritual as well as political leader. As Andrew Sullivan wrote on his blog: "Whatever happens, the Iranian people have already shown the world what a love of freedom means. Their spirituality, tenacity, wit, and compassion have shone through every moment. Whatever happens, they have proven a heroic nation for the 21st Century. We should honor them for this moment. And stay with them in the days ahead."