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    September 22, 1999

I am shocked!

I think Mr. Salaradini is a bit unkind to Mr. Alami ["I was once an Iranian"] ; I can't see Mr. Alami toasting the Queen anytime soon, nor do I see self-hatred as Mr. Alardini has implicitly suggested. I do agree that some of Alami's remarks are naïve and inaccurate.

The fundamental problem with his piece is the problem I have seen in many of the pieces printed in The Iranian and that is a language that is not precise. The article is at times self-indulgent and airy-fairy and quoting Luckac can't cover the sometime mishmash nature of the piece. I like the essential argument of the piece though that Iranians like any other immigrant group to any country (I happen to live in Canada) have to, as Said Nafici has suggested some where, cross the threshold of being mere exiles and enter the realm of ethnicity. The ethnic existence is a hybrid one and this hybridity should be taken as a positive. The search for the pure is illusory in or outside of Iran.

Example of mishmash: To call into question literary exploration of the Iranian literary cannon as evidence of some kind of reactionary tendency. I am shocked! An educated person such as Mr. Alami is surly aware of mountains of work annually amassed on such medieval stalwarts as Chaucer, Boccacio, Marlow and so forth. Entire cultural industries are erected in Western universities around obscure literary figures in Twelfth century Wales. So what is then Mr. Alami that is wrong with study of Hafez? Could it be you consider Western literature at any time superior to anything an 'oriental' writer can do. As to convoluted-ness, try Milton and Pope. There are plenty of Iranians in Iran as well as outside who are at home with Hafez and Elliot, Breton and Roudaki.

And for the love of God what's with that "... essential American thing that is tolerance." Are you serious? Let me guess, you vote Republican, right? At best one can admire certain Jeffersonian aspect of the American culture, the America of Thomas Pain, Fredrick Douglas, etc. But to call the essential nature of the U.S. that of tolerance is a bit rich. Let's just list some of the nice words listed in Anglo-American dictionary: Nigger, wop, wog, polock, red skin, jap, chink and camel jockey and sand nigger which apparently is the words de jour to describe Iranians in America.

Asghar Massombagi

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