Just being Persian-American simply isn't enough
By Sepand Rezaii
March 24, 2004
The Persian-American community has for decades waited for the emergence
of a viable Persian-American candidate for Congress. Although many
have tried, few have had a reasonable chance of success. Then came
Goli Ameri, a Persian-American woman who happened to be at the
right place at the right time. What has been unknown to many of
us up until recently, however, is that she is also a Persian-American
We have the CEO of eBay. We have a key engineer at NASA. We have
a Nobel Peace prize winner. We even have an Oscar nominee, but
still not a Persian-American high profile politician. So it is
natural that excitement in our community was considerable when
Ameri declared her intention to run for Congress in Oregon-- to
the extent that we became excessively forgiving about her refusal
to address issues close to the heart of the average Persian-American. [See:
For months Ameri has toured the country and raised money --
considerable amounts of money -- from Persian-Americans. Her only
has been: "You need a Persian-American in Congress." True.
We do need Persian-Americans in Congress, but we also need a Persian-American
in Congress that caters to our interest and bring our concerns
to the attention of decision makers in Washington.
Just being Persian-American simply isn't enough.
But in times of war -- yes, we are at war right now-- few
have the courage to ask inconvenient questions. With minorities
in the US treated increasingly as criminals -- or terrorists -- until
proven innocent, the idea of having a Persian-American in Congress
that can challenge the Patriot Act and restore our civil rights
is attractive indeed.
But what do you do when that very Persian-American is a supporter
of the Patriot Act? What do you do when that Persian-American is
a supporter of the Bush agenda of invading as many Middle Eastern
countries as possible and imposing pro-US, pro-Israeli semi-dictators
there? What do you do when that Persian-American is a neo-conservative?
Aunt Ameri -- our community's own Uncle Tom -- is
a neo-conservative in all but name. She supports the Patriot Act
and praises President Bush when he extended the law fingerprinting
Iranian grandmothers, amongst others, at our airports. She praises
the "War on Terror", Bush's military escapades in the Middle
East, and the White House's disdain for international cooperation.
She praises the Department of Homeland Security and its brutal
treatment of Iranian immigrants in America.
But her similarities with the neo-conservatives do not end there.
Much like them, she has concealed her true face from her constituents,
getting their support and campaign contributions by appearing as
a moderate with genuine concern for Persian-American interests.
As her campaign has progressed, however, and the pool of possible
Persian-American contributions to her campaign drained, she has
slowly revealed her true positions and intentions. And it hasn't
been a pretty sight.
The question Persian-Americans must ask themselves is whether we
are better off with Aunt Ameri in Congress or not. Will it be easier
to violate our civil rights with a Persian-American in Congress
cheerleading the Patriot Act? Will Aunt Ameri in Congress make
it easier for neo-con forces to portray Persian-American opponents
of the Patriot Act as extremists, or perhaps even terrorists? Will
Aunt Ameri become the Persian Ahmed Chalabi, drawing the US into
a bloody and seemingly endless military confrontation with Iran?
Ameri may be an American of Iranian origin, but her ideas
and goals are of an inherently anti-Iranian and anti-American extraction.
Come November, we as a community, must decide whether ethnicity
takes precedence over ideas, and whether a Persian neo-con is any
better, worse or the same as a non-Persian neo-con.
goodbye to spam!