Slates wiped clean
The truth about "Marg bar Shah"
February 3, 2005
Today while spending a day at home, I heard a commotion coming
from my son's room. Thinking that I had better make sure
that he wasn't tearing the room apart lest his mother raise
holy hell with him when she got home, I opened the door and walked
in. He wasn't tearing the room apart at all. He was sitting
on the end of his bed watching cartoons and chanting with the
crowd of cartoon characters. Here was my ten year old boy with
a clenched fist raised in the air, sitting on the end of his
bed chanting "Marg Bar Shah" (Death to the King).
For a moment I couldn't believe what I was seeing and
hearing. Here was my little American/Iranian child chanting along
with his favorite cartoon program on Iranian state TV for the
death of the King of Kings. My son must have been a bit embarrassed
he lowered his fist and gave me a sheepish smile. I walked over
and turned down the television and told him that he didn't
need to waste his breath in protest anymore as the Shah was more
that quite dead and has been so for a very long time. I told
my son that it didn't matter to me what he wanted to say
in the house, but that I thought that he ought to make sure that
he never said such words around his mother. He asked why? Without
giving him the answer he wanted, I said "just don't."
While I have a passing interest in the politics of your country,
I do not feel the painful sting of the deep emotional scars that
so many first-generation Iranian expatriates carry within them,
just as my wife does. I want to careful here not to put words
in her mouth, but I am fairly confident that she was never a
true believer in and ardent supporter of the monarchy as it existed
in Iran when she grew up there. She has told me many stories
about her childhood and years of growing from an adolescent to
a young woman in the Braim area of Abadan.
Among these stories
are tales of the fear her parents instilled in her at a tender
age to never speak out against the Shah or to even utter constructive
criticisms about anything related to the Imperial government.
She still today is extremely private with her opinions on nearly
any subject and I attribute this to the fear she learned at
an early age about the ever present possibility of disappearing
in the middle of the night never to be heard from again at
hands of SAVAK. She is well into middle age now, but she still
speaks in hushed whispers when talking about how deeply people
feared that organization.
Having said this, however, she realizes that everything in
life is relative except for two absolute certainties; taxes and
death. She has taken our son to Iran many times and she has seen
for herself what her beloved country has come to. The hopelessness
and despair on the faces of so many bright and industrious young
people always fills her heart with sadness. She knows that the
maniacal masters of her country today are far more violent and
murderous toward the people than the imperfect regime which proceeded
them. She like most people who are given only the choice of standing
in the frying pan or directly in the fire will opt for the frying
She is lucky though. She, like many millions of others, has
never lived as a fulltime resident under the blood stained banner
of the Islamic Republic and for that I'm sure she is thankful.
I can only imagine that it is much easier for her to have lived
a life of missing her beloved homeland than to have endured a
life of abject misery under the bloody boots of the demonic and
deadly demagogues who are day by day bleeding the life and vitality
out of the Iranian nation while simultaneously lining their pockets
and robes with the nations oil wealth plundered year after year
from the country's coffers.
No, my wife has had it relatively easy living in the West.
Her worst encounter with the Islamic Republic of Iran came only
last year when we visited Esfahan and she was detained in the
airport by IRI Security Personnel for not having socks on her
sandaled feet. She was only released after I promised that I
would never allow my wife to go out in public again so immodestly
attired. Esfahan may indeed be Nesfajahan, but as far as I'm
concerned we won't be going back until the sock police
are sacked. Either they don't have enough to do there or
they are the kinkiest people I've ever come across. I've
never heard of people getting sexually aroused by looking at
a forty-something year old woman's toes.
I seem to have digressed considerably, so let me get back to
the point... for there is one. Like, I said before I would
never dream of putting words in my wife's mouth and my
interest in your country, as you can see, is only in passing.
What is of interest to me, however, is my son. I thought of telling
my wife about his chanting with the cartoons characters for the
Shah's death and then I decided against it.
I upset her? There's no point in it. Neither she nor I
need to correct these ideas that are being planted in his small
head by the Government of God. That very government, the government
of the Islamic Republic of Iran will do it for us along with
the help of the entire Iranian nation. Together, they will
most probably wipe from his consciousness and most certainly
case of his children and grandchildren all that his mother
has invested in him that is Persian.
Much to me wife's dismay, the children she carried in
her body are relegated to status of nothingness within Iranian
law and to a large extent by the culture she loves so much. While
she certainly possesses a legal status in Iran, her children
do not and they never will. When she eventually passes from this
earth, her children will have no rights or obligations to the
land, people or culture that she spent a lifetime teaching them
to love and be proud of. They will simply be foreigners like
me or any other non-Iranian.
How long to you suppose a person who lacks any legal status
by a nation will hold tightly to the customs, culture and language
of that nation? Not very long, I'm fairly confident. Although
my son speaks more Farsi than he does English at home since he's
with his mother more than me, the time is coming in his life
when all his ties to Iran and its culture will be severed forever.
I am sure that he will not teach the language of his mother to
his own children when he discovers that they will never be able
to travel there and even if they could they would be received
as oddities who by a stroke of historical chance could speak
the language of the Persian people.
I am sure that the deep pristine pool of Persian pride that
his mother has given him will in the end be slowly drained away
by the laws of Iran which provide that the children of Iran women
who are fathered by foreigner men are themselves foreigners first,
last and forever. I have no doubt in my mind that my son shall
in the end, revert to that which the Islamic Republic of Iran
wishes him to be... .he will become a true foreigner in every
sense of the word. When his mother is no more with him, Iran
will cease to be within him.
This isn't only a matter of regulations and legalities,
however. It runs much deeper than that. I have enjoyed the privilege
in my life of visiting Iran many times. I have seen with my own
eyes how people react to my wife and my children when I am present.
Many people are shocked that an Iranian woman could actually
be married to a foreigner. They have never heard of something
so outrageously scandalous. How, they wonder, could any decent
Iranian father allow a foreigner to steal one of the flowers
of Iranian womanhood? To make matters worse she has brought children
into the world that are impure. They are freaks being part of
neither parent's ethnic group or culture. This is the response
that my wife and children have encountered from many everyday
Before you decide to write me and tell me how wrong I am, let
me say that I am not speaking of the educated and well traveled
classes who have been able to see life beyond the blackened curtain
of the Islamic Republic. I am not talking about those millions
of wonderful Iranians who have lived their lives with broken
hearts scattered like leaves in the wind in countless countries
throughout the world. The people I am talking about are those
who live in Iran and have been brainwashed into believing that
it is not only wrong for an Iranian woman to marry a foreigner
(even a Muslim foreigner), but it is beyond all rationality that
any self-respecting Iranian woman would soil her honor and dignity
and that of her family by entering a state of matrimony with
Believe me there are many people like this. You may refuse
to believe it if you wish, but I've seen how my wife and
children have had their feeling hurt by the callous comments
of such people... .and not a mere few. For example, a few
years ago my wife and I were strolling together on a lovely tree-lined
street in Tehran when a young man approached us demanding to
know why I was walking arm-in-arm with an Iranian woman. He was
absolutely shocked when my wife explained that we were married.
It was almost too incomprehensible to him to conceive of such
a thing. He demanded to see some proof of what she said, upon
which she showed him her Shanosnameh with my name written in
it as her husband. He asked her why she would do such a disgraceful
thing to herself and her father? As she translated for me, I
could feel my anger beginning to rise and I told her to tell
him to leave us alone as he was twenty two years too late to
prevent the highlight for me of our wedding night, the consummation
of our marriage. She told him and he glared at me, but he left.
Then, only three months ago I was in Tehran alone, visiting
my in-laws and looking for a possible summer home to purchase.
I had to visit one of the Iran Air Offices to reconfirm my return
ticket. While there the young lady asked me why I was in Iran.
When I told her that I was visiting my wife's parents she
responded that I must be lying or playing tricks on her. I asked
her why she thought such a thing and she said that it is illegal
for an Iranian woman to marry a foreigner. I pulled from my coat
pocket a photocopy of my Iranian Marriage Certificate written
in Farsi with my photo and my wife's photo on it. This
was the document given us by the government of the Islamic Republic
of Iran (I learned long ago to always carry a copy of that with
me in case the police ever stopped me for any reason).
lady upon seeing the Marriage Certificate said this can't
be. Iranian women are prohibited from marrying foreigners.
Then she looked up and said... .oh, your wife must be a non-Muslim.
I began to laugh and asked why she said that. She said you
a Westerner. I said my wife has been a Muslim since the day
she was born. The young woman then said this document must be
since Muslim women can't marry non-Muslims. I asked her
how she knew I wasn't a Muslim. She said your hair, eyes
and clothes don't look like a Muslim would have. Then just
to confuse her a little more I recited Al-Fatihah for her in
Arabic. She was shocked when she discovered that I had been
a Muslim longer than she herself had been since she was only
These are just a couple of small examples of how the younger
generation in Iran have been spoon-fed a diet of xenophobia for
27 years. Consequently, neither my wife nor her children ever
need to concern themselves with being truly accepted. They won't
be, it just that simple. A significant portion of her countrymen
will always view her and her children as unusual at best and
perhaps much worse. This applies not only to my wife, but to
every other Iranian woman in the world who has married a foreign
man and has had his children.
None of this makes me sad at all though. Why should it? My
children are going to be driven back into the bosom of American
culture and by whom? Not those terribly racist KKK fellows, but
by their mothers own people. My children will eventually become
more like me, thanks to people like you. I can't complain.
On the contrary, I should thank you.
The denial of any sort of legal status for the children of
Iranian mothers and foreign fathers coupled with the overwhelming
cultural indifference and/or rejection of those children by many
average Iranians only serves to insure that eventually all that
is Persian in my children and others like them will be erased
and they will become like slates wiped clean.
I predict that within two generations of my death and that
of my wife that our descendants will not even have heard the
words "Iran or Persian" in relation to their own
existence in this world. It makes me happy that this will not
come about by reason of any bigotry or discrimination on my part
or any other American's part toward my flesh and blood.
No, it will come about solely at the hands of your nation and
I am sure that I made the right decision today in not correcting
my child for chanting "Marg Bar Shah" because you
yourselves will do it for me. You will wipe his slate clean.
It's only a matter of time.
goodbye to spam!