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Smiling through
airport security

By Mazloom Qoli
August 1997
The Iranian

I'm sorry to hear about the inconvenience felt by a lot of Iranians at airports these days.

Okay people, here's a dose of reality: Lord, Allah, Yahwey, Buddha, Hazrat Pir, give us the strength to take our heads out of the Internet long enough to understand this simple point: If you want to survive, you make friends with the bigger dog; if you want to die, bite his tail. Smells to me like we have been slowly dying for the last 17 years, and I for one am tired of picking dog hairs from my mouth.

The following is what I do every time I'm harassed at an airport:

-- Call the airline manager; take time to explain that you are not a terrorist. Actually, say it out loud so that the other passengers will think you are being accused, which in fact, is what they are saying by searching you for no good reason other than being Iranian or being born in Iran. (Mom? Couldn't you, like, give birth to me in Paris? It had to be Tehran? Well, thanks. Yeh dafe' maa ro too laaneh jasoosi mizaeedee.)

-- Explain clearly, and calmly, that you are an upstanding member of the local community and that you would be happy to open your mother's soghati-laden baggage for inspection.

-- Important! Don't show any attitude! Don't get angry. I know it's hard but remain calm. Trust me, you're going to beat them in just a second. Smile apologetically -- a lot. After the inspection, tell the manager sheytoonly that you think there might be a small flaw in their policy. Laugh just a little. Giggling or chuckling is better.

You see, the search-and-destroy-Iranian-luggage policy is in place to catch terrorists and, other than your mother's undergarments, there is unlikely to be anything flammable in the baggage.

The manager must be there side by side wasting his/her time with you to endure the same pain everyone is feeling. (Believe me, the attendant hates to look through your mother's undergarments more than you think.)

The problem with the search policy is becoming clearer and clearer because now the manager has to deal with the fact that next time, you (and now possibly a few other people in line) will be taking British Airways, Air France, Swiss Air, or even Air Ardebil.

Fight PR with PR! (PR ya'ni ravaabet omoomi, ammaa beh kesi nageen.)

Let us take a brief inventory at this time in our history. We are perceived to be wrong, we are perceived to suck. Now what can we do to fix this? Nothing much? Well, the least each of us can do at every opportunity is just point out that we're cool. And don't forget to smile.

Related link

* Persian Cat Watch -- The Iranian-American Anti-Discrimination Website

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