January 12, 2001
Complain to the Iranian government
There is nothing illegal about the U.S. government's security policy,
not even in singling Iranian-passports, Iran-bound and persons of Iranian
origin for the treatment. The national security argument is paramount and
will probably be upheld by the courts. This is no different than the imposition
of trade restrictions, travel restrictions, or hauling in the Iranian students
at the time of the Carter presidency to answer to the INS officials.
Security aside, the policy also irritates the Iranians in the hope that
the vexation will then force the Iranians to force their government to
mend its ways. Well, may be instead of viewing these incidents as a sort
of due process violations by the United States government, the aggrieved
need to complain directly to the Iran Interests Section in Washington,
the Iran Mission at the U.N., and the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran.
No matter how one slices it, the suffering of the Iranians in this area
is linked to the Amercian displeasure with the Iranian government.
As always, the Iranian government does not give two hoots about the
comfort and dignity of any Iranian much less the expatriate community living
and working abroad. Why should any other government? Next time one is aggrieved
by the INS, Customs or Airport Security one should file a claim for monetary
compensation for pain and suffering and loss of human dignity with the
Iranian government. If the Iranian government would like to help the passengers,
then it can pay out the amount to the aggrieved passengers and then seek
the reimbursement of the payout from the Amercian government at some point.
There is also room for some self-help here. As for passnegers, travel
on non-Iranian passports; go to European or Canadian destinations before
heading out to Iran on separate tickets; boycott the American-flag carriers.
If the loss of business is high enough then the airline too will line up
on the side of the Iranian complainants and seek a change in policy. As
for the Iranian government, it should seek the help of other governments
and their liners in ending Washington's search and finger-print policies
by applying economic and reciprocal pressure.
Best solution to all this: Do as many have been doing for decades: remain
stoic, grin and bear the insult; philosophize that it is a necessary evil
of international travel; that you rather fly safely than be blow up by
a bomb that sneaked on board under someone's skirt of dignity; it is nothing
personal. Maybe, just maybe, if one does not make much of it, it will not
amount to much. It is probably worse still, to be shrill about it and yet
do nothing, which is about par for the course.