Even though I’m an Iranian-American and think you’re kind of a bigot for asking me, I’m going to answer you, anyway.
1) Green your life.
Prior to Iran’s June 12 presidential election, green was the color of leading opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s campaign. Green evokes spring and new life. It also symbolizes Islam, Iran’s dominant religion. The national flags of most predominantly Muslim countries contain at least some green.
When Iranian authorities began their violent crackdown against the opposition immediately after the election, the meaning of green changed. It no longer symbolizes support for Mousavi. It symbolizes support for the right of Iranians to have their votes counted.
Within a few days of the election, World Wide Websters began greening their pages and profiles as a gesture of solidarity with Iran’s courageous pro-democracy demonstrators.
I have not yet been able to communicate directly with anyone in Iran, but I suspect that pro-democracy Iranians who are aware of the world’s green-ness are at least a little bit gratified by the symbolic support. Who doesn’t like to be appreciated?
So if you wanna brighten a pro-democracy Iranian’s day, go ahead and make your Facebook profile picture and Twitter icons green. Don’t bother with your MySpace page. Nobody looks at that, anyway.
Be green offline, too. Wear a green shirt. Wear a green armband. Eat split pea soup. Garnish with parsley. Eat big salads in public. Grow some plants. Be green with envy. Be green with nausea. Date former "Beverly Hills, 90210" star Brian Austin Green. I hear Megan Fox just dumped him.
2) Green your country.
Tinting your life green in support of Iranian democracy is all well and good, but there’s another kind of greening that, over the long term, will do a lot more to help Iranian democrats.
During World War II, there was a U.S. propaganda poster depicting a man driving a car. He was alone in the car except for a ghostly outline of Adolf Hitler in the passenger seat. Emblazoned above the car were the words “When you ride ALONE, you ride with Hitler.” Translation: Wasting gasoline is unpatriotic because it diverts precious resources away from the war effort.
In 2002, comedian Bill Maher updated the concept with his book When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden: What the Government Should Be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorism.
Al-Qaida was funded in large part by oil money. By wasting fuel, Maher argues, Americans subsidize bin Laden’s terrorism.
The same idea applies to Iran. When you ride alone, you ride with Ahmadinejad. The Iranian government’s lurch toward fascism is funded by the developed world’s addiction to fossil fuels.
Oil, natural gas, and their chemical derivatives account for 85 percent of Iran’s export earnings. When the price of those commodities is high, Iran’s thugocrats can arms themselves against their own people, fill their Swiss bank accounts, and still have enough left over to buy off Iranians with economic and social development.
High fuel prices allow the Iranian regime to wallpaper over their corruption and economic incompetence with petro-cash. When fossil fuel prices plummet, there’s less cash for wallpapering.
Cheap oil weakens the hardliners who control Iran by strengthening regime moderates who want to normalize diplomatic and economic relations with the west.
Any action or policy reducing U.S. dependence on fossil fuels supports democracy in Iran. Ride a bike. Carpool. And write a letter to Congress voicing your support for higher fuel taxes and fuel economy standards for cars.
3) Mock people who say President Obama should be more vocal in his criticism of Iran’s government.
Obama isn’t perfect, but he’s playing this one correctly.
Iran’s hardliners want more than anything to tar the protesters in Iran as agents or dupes of Western powers.
As satisfying as it might be to some here to have Obama speak out in support of Iranian protesters, it can only do harm to the protesters.