November 18, 1999
I read some of your
articles in The Iranian. I usually do not read the social commentaries
on the site but my serendipitous and fortunate find provided ample interest
and amusement. Your frankness is disarming and contrasts strongly with
the attitudes of the older Iranians who are obsessed with keeping up appearances.
(I exclude my parents from this simplification because they have been ahead
of their time).
You openly spoke of the mock-superiority felt by those who have been
excluded from the wider society despite their servility towards the "carriageway".
You complained of others who escape their identity. These are those who
color their hair blond and wear blue lenses but forget the clash between
their dark olive skins and the coloring of their cosmetics aimed at the
Europeans. Those who tell you " Ay am nut Pershian, Ay am Ferench"
and are surprised and embarrassed when you attempt to put your own elementary
French into use and when they can not even comprehend your phrase book
Your experience of being an outsider within a society of outsiders was
incomprehensible to me. How could such a mixed race as ours have such a
palpable discomfort with regards to differences. To call you half-anything
I think is rude. Iranian racial purity is a myth. Being Iranian is a state
of mind. An obsession, a pleasant mental disease akin to mania, a sweet
pain and a worthwhile challenge. I think in this day and age, when being
an Iranian is a serious disadvantage to one's career advancement, whosoever
thinks they are Iranian could not possibly be anything but genuine.
You brought up many points about marriage. One's experience of the issue
is entirely different to that of yours. Unlike your mother, one's decision
to wed a non-Iranian would not elevate one's social standing, it would
scandalize the whole family. All so that the family tree reads "married
to Ms Stuck-up, daughter of Professors Dollars and Cents, direct descendants
of Fat-Cat Shah who showed great aptitude in killing people and procreating
The ashamed Iranians appall me. You talked about the man who refuses
to speak Persian. I know of someone who has the same attitude. First time
I met him, I recognized his name as being Iranian and greeted him pleasantly.
He said: "Sorry I do not speak Persian!" (To which my undiplomatic
response was " You do not speak much English either. A regular Hellen
Keller you are.") He recently rediscovered his Persian identity and
decided to ask all to no longer call him by his previous preference. He
has reverted to his real name now.
Anyway an email of honest admiration of your obvious moral courage has
insensibly decayed into a whine fest. To repeat a well known witticism,
amongst Persians it is impolite to pass wind or belch so we whine to relieve
the pressure, otherwise we burst. There is a silver lining in this highly
hyperbolized (I just invented a new word) dire cloud: my best friend is
a most proud and loyal Persian you will ever meet whose values (but mercifully
not his opinions, for conflict is the essence of drama) mirror mine in
all things Persian and more importantly in the wider context.