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Ultimate patriotism
American as apple pie, Iranian as chelokabab

By Ashkan Yekrangi
May 7, 2002
The Iranian

"Take it OFF!"


"Take it off, or I'll take it off for you."

"No, and no you won't."

And then I left the room -- knowing they wouldn't dare. They wouldn't dare peel off the Iran sticker on my piece-of-crap 1990 Toyota Camry with 230,000 miles of not-so-reliable transport.

It all began as soon as the immediate shock of September 11th began to wane. My dad was the first to tell me. "You know, during times like these, you need to be careful." I sighed, knowing where the conversation was going. "Your mom and I think you should take the Iran-sticker off your car... some people are too angry to think clearly right now. We don't want anyone to hurt you."

And so the same relentless debate continued for days on end, reaching no resolution. I was worried they would secretly remove the sticker. I wouldn't allow it. After all, the sticker is a rare item. It's the essence of my vehicle. It's the reason why it has acquired the infamous name, "Iranmobile".

And then we reached a resolution: balance my patriotism by placing an American flag sticker on the car as well. At the time, it was an excellent solution. After all, I am, as I say, American as apple pie, but yet Iranian as chelokabab.

So I began shopping for the perfect American flag sticker. I found many: large ones, extra large ones, medium ones, teeny tiny ones, but none the same size as my Iran flag sticker. I would not, under any circumstance, belittle my long cherished Iran sticker.

So I told all my friends to scour the city for the perfect sticker. I received stickers of all sorts, but none seemed good enough to be placed on my bumper. None were perfect enough to earn a place in between the Iran and Bob Marley stickers that decorate my fading, black bumper.

Months passed and the war on terrorism raged in full force. Still, the Iranmobile was just that, an Iranmobile -- not an Iranian-American-mobile.

So I finally gave up. I wouldn't stick an American flag on my bumper. Instead, I'd place a medium sized sticker in the inside of my front window. Good enough, I thought. If any narrow-minded "terrorist" ever wanted to assault me for my heritage, I'd just point to the American flag and grin. Either way, flags and stickers don't measure patriotism.

The "Iran Sticker" rift, as I came to call it, gained headlines within my family. My aunts and uncles, family and friends, all urged me to either take it down, or at least put up an American flag.

My response to all the commotion was simple: I, as an American, have enough faith in the nation and people in which I belong, that I know there is no reason to be fearful of expression. This, I believe, is the ultimate show of patriotism -- I was not bullied or scared into conformity. Instead, I remained a proud Iranian-American in a time of great uncertainty.


Ashkan Yekrangi is the webmaster of
CyberIran. He is 18 and lives in Los Angeles.

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