By now I’m sure you’ve all seen Voices for Peace: Fifty Iranian-Americans Promoting Peace with Iran.
Perhaps the idea behind it was decent enough. And maybe, at the end of the day, having it is better than not.
And yet, as a fellow Iranian (ixnay the American), there were many things that made me uncomfortable.
I do not think it is prudent at the moment to promote the idea of: “don’t attack Iran”. While many of us are extremely worried, publicly, we should promote the idea of direct, unconditional requests for talk with Iran. Lest we forget, she too remains a sovereign nation and has the right to decide when and if she wants to open her doors.
I am scared shitless, but when you truly think about it, the mere idea, the mere threat is purely satanic and evil. And we should not give in to it by debating it publicly. The moment you start arguing an insane proposition you’ve given in to it entirely.
“We – the Iranian/American community – are of many religions and many beliefs but we believe America should not attack Iran.”
It should have been:
“We Iranians are of many religions, ethnicities and cultures and we all believe the two countries should talk.”
The idea behind this announcement should have been to promote the path of peace with Iran. I’m not sure where that was squeezed in because I must have missed it.
The announcement begins with:
Fifty people share a face of Iran that’s missing in the headlines, promoting peace.
Some of us were born here; some of us came from Iran.
Was this actually planned or did people just blurt out anything they wanted? Is that really a point you need to stress? Aren’t all human beings born somewhere? Or were Iranians born in some sort of radioactive Klingon terror ship?
Maybe it is that the way Americans look at Iranians is so incredibly horrendous. But do we really need to spend the greatest proportion of the clip telling the world that Iranians are actually working and studying? That they are mothers and grandmothers? Why don’t we just show that they also pee and eat like the “rest of humanity”?
Hey Americans! We Iranian-Americans digest our food the same way you do! Please don’t nuke us!
We are not radical, fundamentalist, or extremists.
(Note: There’s no talk of Iranians as a whole, we only grasp that Iran-Americans are not any of those things. But moving on …)
Of course we are not! Who said we were? These words are far too apologetic and frankly, even offensive.
This was more a video to promote the status of Iranian-Americans than to promote peace; to better their hurt ego – not to raise questions about Iran. To reassure America that they are not fundamentalists and have achieved a great deal on her soil.
But so have the Indian, the Chinese and the Arab communities. So what? What does that have to do with promoting peace? So what that Iranian Americans are doctors and engineers? That has absolutely no link to current animosity between the two countries.
And at the end of the day, here’s the greatest fundamental flaw I see in the expat community:
They don’t want America to nuke Iran and its ruling establishment.
But they’d be quite happy to nuke it themselves.
I am not a supporter of the Iranian ruling system on many issues. But I am behind them 100% in the event of outside intervention of any kind.
Of course, that can be viewed as the same argument provided by the ruling establishment within Iran: do no criticize us because you are “helping the enemy”.
But it is not the same. For two reasons:
- Logical criticism and debating issues in their own context is far different than bad mouthing (of course, the government of the IRI does not see the difference – neither do Iranian satellite channels.)
- The way you criticize inside the country (when paradoxically, you are not allowed) should be different than what you say outside of it. And that is fundamental I think: if you believe that reform must come from inside Iran, you do not destabilize the government from outside.
But as a whole, the Iranian communities outside Iran spend a great deal of resources trying to oust or at least demonize the government within Iran. While those who threaten Iran with war also always conclude that they are only attempting to hurt the system – and not the people. These arguments share many similarities.
You do not have to be in agreement with the system – but to believe no one has the right to do her harm. That in itself implies that you are throwing your support behind them in some way. And that is completely at odds with barbarizing them out of humanity.
The route to civil society is a long, excruciating path that requires deep, thoughtful political/social criticism, reflection; bitter rivalry and struggle. But that is not the same as demonizing Iran’s leaders and declaring them dead.
Those “bearded rulers” are as “Iranian” as we are. We may hate, despise and ridicule them everyday, but it is our combined cultural, religious, historical, political and sociological calculations that brought us to this result. We often want to “separate” ourselves from their image, because weare at odds with their beliefs, with their actions and with their very humanity.
But looking back at our history as far as at least the last 200 years – this outcome was inevitable. And in this “our” we can not separate the bearded from the unbearded, the hot shot Iranian lawyer living with her boyfriend in L.A. and the mother of 10 living with her clergy husband in Qom. We can ridicule as much as we want, but this was a manifestation of our combined Iranian-ness. And today, we can separate ourselves and mock but the problem lies in that we seem to be more preoccupied with doing that than looking and finding real solutions. Those who live outside seem to believe that because they are not within the borders, they are somehow better or more separated.
We are constantly divided. As if the Iranian diaspora has difficulty believing, after 29 years, who is in charge. These are the rulers today and if we can at all, it is with them that we shall negotiate. Cyrus who wrote the first declaration of human rights is not going to rise from the grave and rule us – and even if he did, could you guarantee that he’d do any better?
Better the devil you know then the devil you don’t.
We Iranians however, seem to love experimenting.