The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


November 13, 2000

Trivia amid Gangi's desperate shouts

Who could listen and read about Akbar Ganji and not have the hairs stick-up on their skin. News like this from our beloved motherland makes the squabling and bickering about "Iranian girls" or about pop stars and all the rest that we discuss in this cyber forum seem shamelessly trivial.

No matter how comfortable we are in our newly found "Iranian-American" identity how is it that we can sit and let these atrocities go by with-out even a comment. In all the Googoosh concerts and all the soccer matches of the national team not one person stood an yelled "marg bar molla" (non-mojahed khalgh that is; because despite their cult-like fascistic veneer they are the only brave ones amongst us). While I am sure it was on many a clean shaven or lipstick lip.

No one with any little property or the slightest chance of getting a confiscated piece of land back, no one who has a living relative no matter how distant, no one who wants to go and enjoy a nostalgic holiday in Iran, no one but no one stands up against these atrocities committed by this regime. Not even in jest. Or in any case very few of us "Iranian-Americans" do.

While we have "prominent businessmen" and e-executives writing long defenses of Googoosh or Iranian men no one goes near the politically charged news. No blood or sweat from us. We go as far as a few tears shed in front of a monitor and a quick x-ing of the truly upsetting. There comes a time in the forging an identity no matter how multi-faceted and multi-national and confused it might be, when it is tested.

News like this tests our sense of identity in simple political terms. What does it take to make us stand up in even a small way for that part of us which is still Iranian? Will there be as many clicks on the Iran free press site as there was for Googoosh or will as many people express their digust about the treatment of Mr. Ganji in prison as they did about some boy-hates-girl article on this site?

The bottom line is this: how can we in all honesty gather in this cyber-forum and go on discussing everything under the sun but our real concern and sympathy toward the struggle for freedom going on in Iran. Here we are endowed with the blessing of the right to free speech and we waste it on trivia.

Now, I know that not all of us are like this and that some of us are vocal and active. But more of us need to be. It is our duty as the lucky ones who live in freedom to help and show concern for what is happening in Iran. Each of us has to ask him/herself, "at what point will I be willing to stand up for my fellow country men?"

At what point will checking news from Iran for us ex-patriates transcend its purely therapeutic value and become a way of involving one in the real life of a country we all hold dear? Surely this is the question that should be raised in any Iranian's mind when listening to Akbar Gangi's desperate shouts, punctuated by the cries of his wife.

S. S. Javid


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