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I feel better now
After writing how I feel about Iranians abroad

By Mehrdad Pishehgar
January 16, 2002
The Iranian

I have been meaning to send this for quite a long time now, but for some reason I have not been able to push the "SEND" button, thinking I have to add a few things to it yet. This letter covers a variety of things which do not necessarily have anything in common. So do not expect any particular order.

I have read, mostly in the letters section of Iranian.com, comments about how superior we Iranians are compared to others, especially Arabs. As a group of people who have mainly been forced to leave our own country for various reasons and taken residence in other countries as immigrants, refugees etc, we are an intolerant bunch.

We are very quick to call others racist if they say anything unpleasant about us; be it true or not. However, we often very casually throw derogatory remarks about Arabs, Afghans, Blacks, Hispanics, whom we regard as less human than ourselves. We, as a minority in our adopted countries, often can not tolerate other minorities, but we expect the world to treat us with the utmost respect.

I personally believe most people in the West are tolerant and good-hearted. You have probably experienced this also. As refugees from a Third World country having nothing in common ethnically, religiously or culturally with our adopted countries, we are welcomed, helped and treated well by the majority. They show interest in us and want to learn about our homeland, culture and so on. In return many of us regard their trusting nature as naivete or even stupidity.

However, let's take how Afghans are treated by Iranians as an example. Afghans are racially, culturally and religiously the closest to Iranians.  However, they are not treated as you yourself would like to be treated. They are blamed for most of the ills in society which they have nothing to do with.

They are mostly in very low paying jobs. They get less pay for the same work as their Iranian counterparts. People do not treat them with dignity. Once I was at a barber shop, an Afghan walked in and asked the barber if he has time to do his hair. The barber told him he would cut his hair but he should first go to the public bath and wash himself. In Iran, Afghans are not represented at all. People do not want to have them as neighbors.

There are a lot of other similarly stupid things, which I am sure any honest Iranian, reading this would agree with. My point being, for a people who treat other third-worlders very badly, we expect a hell of a lot from others in their treatment of us.

Some believe in this Arian superiority bullshit which was the invention of one of the most notorious criminals in the history of the world; Hitler, for those who can't take a hint. Those of you who believe this should remember that more than half of the world's population originated from Arian tribes, so there is nothing unique about us Iranians.

We also believe that our host nations and their people love Iranians while they can't stand other minorities/nationalities. Somehow, we believe we speak the language of the natives without a trace of an accent; unlike other non-natives who have problems with certain sounds and words.

We praise ourselves for rapidly dissolving into the mainstream culture. In some cases even taking a leading role in showing them the path to future trends and fashion. Then we call those who walk around with their national dress / head gear or whatever, backward and "dahaati".

When it comes to arts and culture, we believe we are at the top of the global ladder and others are either non-existent or just copying what we used to do 200,000 years ago (Honar nazde iraaniaan ast o bas!). We live on the glory of the past and forget the present.

We are upset if a program on TV shows poverty, hardship and generally painful experiences of daily life in Iran. We tell our friends this is not the real Iran. We tell them we have houses in the north of Tehran, the likes of which can not even be found in Beverly Hills. If they show streets full of old, battered and smoky Peykans, we tell our friend we had nothing but American and German luxury cars before the revolution. We had F-14 Tomcats and so on.

We generally deny anything negative about ourselves. We try to find an excuse for it instead of just accepting it as the truth. Iran might have been an advanced country a few hundred or thousands of years ago but that is not the case anymore. The vast majority of our people are poor and have no access to decent accommodation, education or even food. It is not their fault. We have always been ruled by a bunch of murderers and thieves who have in most cases made the lives of ordinary Iranians miserable.

Many Iranians who have migrated to the US, regard themselves as Americans and a lot of them do not even want to talk about their origin. They react to events, important or not, much more forcefully than those who have been here for a much longer time. It is as if they want to prove they are more American than Americans.

Please! If you are going to email me about this, don't say America is your true home and you are proud to be an Iranian-American. In the wake of the September 11 tragedy, most of you realized that when push comes to shove, you are just an outsider and are seen as a potential source of danger.

Saying negative things about the Islamic regime in Iran is a duty. However, if we talk negatively about our heritage, we should not be offended when foreigners exploit the situation. They would not dare portray Jews badly because Jews are very proud of who they are and take united action against their critics. They even have influence over the policies of the US government. So should we, but if you put ten Iranians together, there will be 11 different views regarding everything. No wonder mollas have stayed in power for so long!

Some of you write about going back home for a visit as if you are the white man going to Africa for the first time. It may have been a great experience to see your relatives, childhood home or the power of your dollars, but it's not anything unique. You take some photos, which at least in my opinion, have no merit as art. Iranian.com publishes them and everybody is happy.

You passionately praise those who sacrificed their lives to defend the country against "Arab aggression". But have you ever thought that the only one responsible for the war was Khomeini himself, talking about exporting the revolution and establishing an Islamic Republic in Iraq? The Iraqis had to take action and prevent this from happening. They took border skirmishes one step further and started a war.

Then when the Iraqis realized they can not win the war, and after being pushed back from Iranian territories, they offered peace talks. That was, if I remember correctly, in 1982 or 1983 . Had the Iranian regime accepted this, without a doubt Iraq would have been condemned as the aggressor and forced to pay war reparations and we would have been a few hundred thousand richer in the number of young lives not lost in the following bloody years. However, Khomeini had other ideas. The opposition had to be destroyed completely and under what better disguise than war? No wonder he called the war a blessing from the heavens.

Most of those who served in the war, especially after regaining control of Iranian territories, went there against their will. They did not want to "defend Islam = Khomeini" and wash themselves in the waters of the Tigris on their way to "freeing Jerusalem" while firing Israeli weapons. They were the victims of this regime and not its willing heroes. Most of them would have preferred to have been somewhere in Europe or America praising the ones who "defended the country so bravely" and lost their lives in the process. Praising the victims of this regime does not make you a patriot! It could very well make you a hypocrite!

Well I think enough has been said. This will probably raise the blood pressure of so many of our "staunch nationalists" who are willing to sell their country at any price to the highest bidder. I have said my part and for that I feel a bit better. The ball is in your court now!

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Mehrdad Pishehgar


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