Letters

March 2005
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Nuclear program IS economical

In response to Farhad Radmehrian's "Misplaced pride":

Farhad,

Although your long list of Iranian shortcomings is valid, the abandonment of Iran's nuclear program is illogical. To the contrary, Iran's "gazillion" dollar nuclear program IS economical and quite frankly a smart move which is congruent with Iran's national interests.

A nuclear power plant costs $140 million a year to operate. Currently, Iran spends $520-$650 million on energy production from gas and petroleum sources. Clearly, than, it is in Iran's economic interest to pursue nuclear power. Furthermore, why should Iran waste its natural resources on energy production when instead, it can turn these into "added value" petrochemical products which are far more profitable?

Also, don't forget that Iran is also being choked by pollution; a problem that we hope will be assuaged by nuclear energy.

Your litany of improvements the Iranian government must undertake is valid. However, the solution to these problems should not be at the expense of Iran's badly needed and perfectly legitimate claim to nuclear power.

Ashkan Yekrangi

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Non-Iranians trying to teach us a lesson

In response to Teresa Camacho "Iran with Lolita in Perspolis":

I am writing with regard to Teresa Camacho's haphazard and ill-guided reviews of Persepolis and Reading Lolita in Tehran.

Let me begin by saying that it seems Ms. Camacho has read neither text. If she had she would not make such feeble assertions: "The use of Western novels such as Lolita and The Great Gatsby is confounding since it legitimizes the alleged freedom and democracy of these texts and their Western at the expense of Eastern texts and their context. The book though well-written would have been better, more insightful and perhaps would have held more meaning to the students to whom literature was being presented, if the texts used would have been Iranian."

Ms. Macho Camacho, Azar Nafisi is a professor of English Literature, and not Iranian literature. In fact, I personally am so sick and tired of people, non-Iranians in particular, trying to teach us a lesson in cultural authenticity; it is nothing but a fallacy that deserves to be belittled and challenged at every occasion.

As a student, I can assure you that if I were to pen such a simplistic and vacuous review of these two books I would have failed the assignment.

Samira Mohyeddin

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Exiles, revolution and identity

In response to Teresa Camacho "Iran with Lolita in Perspolis":

Just read your comparative study of Nafisi and Satrapy works. I haven't read Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. It has been translated to French and has done quite well in sales. I listened to a lecture she gave in John Hopkins I believe and was quite impressed although I don't necessarily agree wit hher interpretation of the poor Humbert Humbert. Although I have not read Nabokovs novel I saw the screen adaptations by Kubrick and Adrian Lynn. I found Humbert was the victime and not Lolita. Its maybe the male in me expressing himself but not the chauvinist. I can't see why Nafisi sees in Humbert the pervert evil. You may be able to enlighten me although that is not the subject of your article >>> Full text

Darius KADIVAR

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What authentic Iranian culture?

In response to Teresa Camacho "Iran with Lolita in Perspolis":

In her artcile about Nafisi and Setrapi's books, Camacho argues "Though both presentations of the Iranian Revolution by Nafisi and Satrapi are valid the latter account is the better account because there is never a doubt that she is an Iranian and that she is equally enthusiastic about her own culture and icons whereas with Nafisi the Occident is presented as the better context at the expense of her own culture particularly in her choice of texts to open up discussions about Iran and its political situation."

I find Comocha's argument dissatisfactory because she assumes there is an "authentic" Iranian culture that is completely seperated from a true "Occidental" culture. As much as some fundamentalists, Islamists included, would like to claim that authentic cultures exist and they are their true representatives; in reality people interact within mixed social and cultural contexts. who defines what an authentic Iranian culture and icon is? why should we read a memoir through which we never doubt if the author is truly an Iranian? what does that say about the experience being shared?

elham gheytanchi

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Can it happen?

On U.S. lifting opposition to Iran joinging the World Trade Organization (see poll):

The U.S. carrot is absolutely meaningless. Since the WTO has its own restricted rules & regulations which have to be met by any applicant. Non objection of U.S. does not change the nature of the IRI or for that mater the rules & regulations governing the WTO. Without meeting those rules & restrict regulations there will be no entry for IRI.

For IRI to become a member of WTO, they have to change their constitution first. Which at the moment is an impossible feet. Remember the fate of the new airort & cellphones? That kind of a monkey business can not take place being a WTO member. To become a member of WTO, IRI has to demolish itself!? Can it happen?

Regards,

H. Hakimi,
Norway

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American writers are not good

In response to Ali Ohadi's "Bread, pen, power":

This is in regards to the refreshingly, excellent, story by Mr. Ohadi. The one point I would like to add to his "commentary" which is more or less a mirror to the life he now lives, which seems to be adjustment to the boredom of the so called, "free world."

The most interesting observation that he made is, in summation:"How I can describe the situation? There in my previous land, my body was in chains but my soul was free. Here, my body is free but my soul ... " This is why so many writers from supposedly "free countries" in the world need to go abroad and "experience life" outside, say, the "good ole U.S.A."...If only the youth in Iran and elsewhere in the supposed "censorship" countries could understand that inorder for a people to be dynamic, they need some sort of tension and maybe even a little paranoia.

It has always struck me that bookstores in the United States, primarily, are full of stacks of so called, "comtemporary" books, but there isn't really nothing interesting or of any real valuable knowledge. Infact most are not even worthy of being called literature. The literary life in the "free world" is completely static and dead. That is probably why in the English language world, the only good "stories" seem to come from writers who have come from "oppressed countries."

I, personally, almost never read anything, unless it is a translation of a "3rd world writer" or something from pre-Second World War, and I am not alone in this. Most people who are interested beyond their own immediate lives want to know about the rest of the world.

Over time, I, like most readers, have simply accepted the fact that American writers are not good and never will be, because there are two elements that have killed any incentive to produce good works. Namely, the unimaginative, boring, and uninteresting lives of the writers themselves, who are so "free" in large part, they are not capable of imagining beyond the descriptive of something visual like the endless television drivel they are accustomed to; and, the fact that nothing really happens in America or other so called "free" societies that is interesting, other than maybe crimes, torts, and contracts....who knows.

Finally, I think Mr. Ohadi simply should not listen to anyone, write as much painful, sad, depressing and pessimistic recollections of his "past" because that is probably as good as it will get for his generation of expatriate-Iranian writers, with all due respect.

Sincerely,

Cyrus Raafat

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Who cares what others call Farsi?

In response to Khodadad Rezakhani's "Iranians speak Persian":

Mr. Rezakhani's article was yet another example of some Iranian-Americans hesitation to call their language by it's true name. Perhaps its too embarassing for them to say that they speak "Farsi" iin front of their White, Terrorist-fearing, American friends and aquaintances. Whatever the reason, I know that our language is called Farsi, and what it is called in other languages is irrelevant.

I for one, frankly don't care what any Iranian "Scholars" say about how "Persian" is the official English word, and any other word is incorrect. It is simply a matter of fact that even in English, our language is referred to as Farsi (and Persian, although that is the term from Greek, which is why many other languages use a variation on it).

So if it's already known as both in English, why not simply use it's TRUE name, not trying to make it sound like something else. What, do we want to be Greek, or European or something now? 'Persian"? Maybe when talking about an Ancient Empire. Not when talking about a Modern Language. Get some national pride, don't care what others think, and speak the true name of your mother tongue, Farsi, it's also an English word after all.

According to dictionary.com:

Farsi ...1. The modern Iranian language, dating from about the ninth century A.D., that is the national language of Iran and is written in an Arabic alphabet; Persian.

da sa

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Greasiest Iranians

In response to Nader Davoodi's photo essay "Javadieh":

The Iranian.com has out did itself by posting this photo essay which shows the miserable life of people in the most southern part of Tehran.

The people in the photos were the greasiest Iranians I have seen in my life. They all needed to take a bath. The women from that part of "jonoobeh Shahr" needed to see a dermatologist for their really bad acne. And a lot of the Iranians living in Javadieh look like dark people from India.

Their photos show that they don't bathe, their socks smell and their armpits reek of smelliness. If people were allowed to send aid for the people in Bam several years ago from the US people should also be allowed to send people in Javadieh soap and shampoo.

Jacob Cohen

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Releasing aggression

In response to Nader Davoodi's photo essay "Javadieh":

i was having a look trough the pictures 'ashoora moaning fest', so i decided to right some words
in order to comment my personal point of view of such occasions. i'd like to express these comments by putting them in question forms!

1) what would the viewers first impression be like?

2) how many people in the crowd have really studied the truth of ashoora?

3) shouldn't these people be more aware of their present and horrifying situation rather than be moaning for someone who himself had devoted his entire life to obtain and justify the spiritual meaning of resistance and bravery?

there is no need for readers to take these comments offensive, for i'm a muslim born(shia). further
more my family might have taken a part in such events!

any time i approach by media esp those which underlining these events, i become totally depress and gutted! why shouldn't we become a little wiser and more realistic? we always accuse outsiders of being the main destructive sources against our liberty, we may however be saying that they do not wish a democratic iran, but for heaven sake just open your eyes and accept this once and forever that we'r still stuck in medieval era, how on earth we would b able to dream of reaching a state of modernity and be called modern persians?

don't you think that these sort of activities are totally misleading, and has to be rather contextualized as a psychological theme of which release the aggressions pilled up inside our consciences than b remarked as a religious gesture ?

h. sobhanipour

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Only famous people recognized

In response to "Get well soon, Googoosh joon":

There are thousands who die every day & no one gives a damn about them. Now Googoosh had an operation and the whole world has to know about it and send get well card to, isn't it a shame that only wealthy and famous people have to be recognized. Shame on those who do not give a damn for the rest ...

barry gohari

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Attempted limerick

In response to Babak Khiavchi's "There was a young Shirazi girl":

Hi Babak,

I just read your Persian limericks. They were funny and clever, as you always are. :)

Here's my feeble attempt:

There was once a programmer named Babak
who could only write C on a Mac
his coding was not the best
as it had more bugs than the rain forest
I'm just jealous as I'm writing smack!

Okay, I'll stick to my day job!

By the way, what kind of weird esfoonis have you been hanging out with? ;)

Cheers,
Mehran Azhar

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Willingly refuse to get educated

In response to Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani's "Happy medium":

Dear Zohreh,

I admire the fact that you are trying to bring balance to the widely differing point-of-views between these two individuals or any other two for that matter. [Pesar Gol's "Hossein hocus pocus" and Sanaz Fotouhi's "Your loss"]

However, i would beg to differ with you on one point, namely that merely focusing on the fact that, as those who lived in a country where there was not enough effective education in our lives about our religion, as opposed to what our christian counterparts were exposed to, or even the extent to which some of our own youth were familiarized with other cultures, would not go far enough to justify our shamefully rediculing some of the highly revered religious values and rituals. What Pesare gol or any other like-minded commentators would tend to do is to plainly belittling such characters as Imam hussain and others, and you can't simply chalk that up as plain lack of knowledge.

I agree that both sanaz and him belong to one generation and one country, but the fact remains that there are some people who willingly refuse to get educated on such matters and choose to ignore it simply because they would not want to trade the comfort and convenience of western culture for that of what they perceive as a culture of sufferage and pain and revering those belonged to the past.

reading your comments i could not help but notice that you probably do not have strong, traditional religious beliefs (correct me if i am wrong) and would welcome a slightly modified and modernized version of it. A certain degree of open-mindedness and flexibility is defenitely allowed in looking and evaluating any of the world religions, so far as it will not culminate downplaying and deinigration. To me that was Pesare gol's intentions.

Kyle Saghafi

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Does she have no standards?

In response to Azam Nemati's "Aghdashloo has it all":

Let me first say that I have not been following the Aghdashloo controversy (i.e. previous articles about her) or this thing about Googoosh or who is jealous of who. Moreover, the fact that you have met the actress or think she is beautiful (I certainly don't) or that she was nice to you or that you do business with her, is also irrelevant here. It is also irrelevant that she as an actress has to tackle role X for the goodness of her career.

What is relevant then? What may be the source of controversy is that she, as a well-known Iranian both in the Iranian community and now in the States, has chosen to play the role of a terrorist. Public figures have certain responsibilities and she has completely ignored hers. She has been selfish in choosing to further her career at a huge cost to the Iranian community.

You mention the example of an American actor playing a terrorist. What is the difference? Well, in psychological sciences, there is something called "illusory correlation". This happens, for instance, when your new neighbor is seen yelling out loud at his son right in the middle of street. Since you do not know the neighbor at all, you start making negative judgments about him, even if this is very much out of character for him and he had a very bad day. If you knew him for a very long time, a worse behavior may be excused as due to circumstances.

Similarly, Iranians are like that new neighbor in the movie business. In a time when our country could be the next target of US war machine, it is a horrible idea to portray a terrorist on a popular television show. I am sure we all want to make money and further our career but at what cost? Does she have no standards? Is this the only way she can make money? Could you think of a worse role she could have accepted? Julie Roberts, at this point in her career, could get away with playing such a role, but not Aghdashloo, the new kid on the block, and especially not at this point in time.

Lastly, I should tell you something about TV and politics. Have you seen "Wag the Dog"? Politics is not too far from show business. People who decide that we should go to war (i.e. vote) are people like...you and me. They do not all have PhDs. Many believe what they see on TV, be it news or a show. Movies are star-driven, not story driven. What about the news? Same thing. It is not the accuracy of the news but who the anchor is. Whose name do you trust? It is the star power again.

It would be naive to think that Aghadshloo‚s portrayal of a terrorist, in a long 24-episodes-series that is made to look quite REALISTIC, is not going to have the slightest affect on the 10-15 MILLION American audience, not long after the devastating tragedy of 9/11 and while the American youth are fighting terrorism far from home. Think again.

Arash Emamzadeh

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Aghdashloo's frequent insults

In response to Azam Nemati's "Aghdashloo has it all":

Mrs. Aghdashloo is an academy nominee and we praise her for that, she is a self claimed educated and amazing actress, however this does not mean that we ought to simply forget about her previous statements and interviews and recent interviews.

Mrs. Aghdashloo in her many interviews mentioned that in her new career she has been approached by many American film makers who offered her a role in Hollywood yet she claims that she has denied all because she was asked to play a terrorist, this suddenly seems to change when she changes her mind. The only difference is her salary before and now that she is an Oscar nominee. >>> Full text

Ali Anari

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Bizarre mix of east and west

In response to J. Javid's "Catching a flight":

middle age irooni haye mesle maa hame jaa va har jaee ke hastand o hasteed, fekr konam be hameen jaaee reseedand ke shoma reseedeed, opening the camera and to share the mood with the rest of us, i felt your sweat waiting in the airport asking yourself may be it is me, the guy who wants to blow everything.

i think all of us are reaching a bizaare almost comic stage of our peyvand of east and west. that we are, with a bit of teary nostalgia and living feliniesk, day by day caring if the persian porno is better than the executed teenager.

our generation was sent in a capsule to outer space of persian culture just in case the world of deev and sepeed blew into pieces. we were the one to survive the disaster, you became a vegetarian? and i am in suspense trying to get into the traffic, and believe me i see no highway that goes my way. or even our ways. but what you do is right and i thought you should know. maslehat neest ke in zemzeme khamoosh shavad.

ghorbaanet
mehran

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U.S. should join talks with Iran

In response to poll on U.S.-Iran talks:

On February 11, 1979 a great event happened. The monarchy was abolished in Iran. For the first time Iran became a republic based on Islamic law. Newsweek in its March 14, 2005 issue page 25 has sited that Iran is more free than Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia the biggest friend of the United States.

The United States should join the EU in talks with Iran. All Embargos against Iran should be abolished. An Iranian Embassy should be re-opened in Washington DC and an Iranian Consulate should be re-opened in Manhattan, New York City. Likewise, an American Embassy should re-open in Tehran. Iran and the United States are very similar than many people think. Most people in the United States have high regards for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

President Reagan and then Vice President Bush armed the Islamic Republic in the Iran-Contra Affair to fight the Evil Saddam Insane. President Clinton abolsihed the embargo on Pistachio nuts and Persian Rug imports from the Islamic Republic of Iran. President George W. Bush has aided the Islamic Republic when the Bam earthquake happened. It is time for direct contact with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It's been over 26 years since the Great Iranian Revolution. It's time for direct talks. And President George W. Bush and Ms. Rice are the two courageous people to bring peace and direct talks. Thank God.

Jamshid Tehrani

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Foreign to our culture

In response to Sanaz Fotouhi's "Your loss":

Dear Sanaz,

With due respect to your beliefs I would like to point out a small fact about Iranian culture. Ashoora-Tasooa is neither an Iranian culture nor an Islamic culture; it is a Shia culture which is some kind of hybrid form of Islam and it is a fact that Shia’ism was created not for the love of Islam or Ali or Hossein , but only and only to block Arabization of Iran. If you bother to study and understand Iran’s true history you will realize all this mourning, beating, crying, stabbing is foreign to our culture; even wearing of black clothing was not promoted. Iranian culture (before Islam) was full of joy, happiness and celebration. Iranians celebrated one day of every month. Our culture is Nowrouz, Sadeh, Mehregan, Chahrshanbeh Soori to name a few.

Bahman Abesteh
Chicago

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More letters: March 2 | March 3 | March 5

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