As a critical NIAC member (I don't mean I am important, just that I am critical), I have been waiting for the all too rare elections. The ones that seem to elect Trita every single time. NIAC elections appear to be just as "pre-determined" as the Iranian elections are.
No news yet, on how the NIAC leadership is dreamed up. I'll definitely let you know if I hear anything. If you do, let me know. Not being in DC, all I get are the emails.
Recently I got another one, asking me fisrt to to re-up my membership. And then how important my input was. Got that? Money first, input second. Assuming that $100,000 a year comes in from (my kind) membership (1500 paying $50 max?) the large majority of NIAC's $1,000,000+ income, comes from Iranian donors (not my kind), the whole Ploughshares and similar concoctions, and "other" non-mentionables. I mean it's their money. I certainly wouldn't spend it on NIAC, but what are you going to do?
To me the test of legitimacy is how strong your membership is. Not what kind of Medici benefactors you can con into supporting your painting career. To be sure, and most certainly, NIAC is a most definite painter. But this isn't the Renaissance. This is the Dark Ages. And I'm not even sure what NIAC is painting. All I know is that it's not Realism.
After the money pitch though, NIAC asks your opinions which you can see are somewhat staged, but to be fair they do allow your to express your opinion. Always off to the side, in separate fields that can be (I'm not saying they are) excluded from the statistics. If one were so inclined (I'm not saying they are).
Here's the Survey. You be the judge. I'll try to make the case for Doubt.
Which of the following issues do you believe should be NIAC's highest priority: (Select one of the available choices or enter a different value.)
Questions 1-5 ask the same essential "priorities" question:
Which of the following issues do you believe should be NIAC's highest, second, third, fourth, and fifth highest priority:
The choices NIAC gives you are:
- Preventing war and finding a peaceful solution to the US-Iran Conflict
- Supporting human rights in Iran (through, for instance, targeted sanctions)
- Opposing broad economic sanctions and relieving pressure on ordinary Iranians inside Iran and abroad
- Supporting the civil rights of Iranian Americans
- Protecting Iranian cultural heritage, such as the Persepolis Tablets
Doubt: As you can see none of these is objectionable. And all of them are blessedly vague enough to allow NIAC to essentially interpret freely, and do whatever it wants while claiming you approved it. Cleverly chosen words like "preventing", "peaceful" "solution", "supporting", "relieveing", "protecting". Words you can't ever measure.
Of course I choose to respond by filling out "- Other".
Dear NIAC your Highest through Fourth priorities should be to ensure that ALL Iranians have the same 1) human, 2) civil, 3) civic, 4) political rights, regardless of where they live. Yes, I understand your self appointed self-made mandate seems to suggest just American-Iranians deserve your efforts in this regard, but I'm OK with granting you permission to pursue these rights for ALL Iranians, wherever they may live. Including Sweden. Which as the former homeland of Trita, ironically has growing problems with anti-immigrant sentiment and crime. Iranians are one of the largest minorities in Sweden. Possibly because almost everything is free. Your LAST priority however, should be to educate US politicians on simply how to correctly pronounce Iran. That will solve a lot on it's own. Thanks for giving me the chance to give you my opinion.
6. Do you support NIAC's existing mandate in opposing broad sanctions aimed at Iran's entire economy?
Doubt: WHAT "existing mandate"? WHERE did this "existing mandate" come from? And WHO gave you this "existing mandate"? A mandate is "...the authority to carry out a policy or course of action, regarded as given by the electorate to a candidate or party that is victorious in an election." So, yeah. HOW?
7. Do you support NIAC's existing mandate in supporting targeted sanctions against human rights abusers in Iran's government?
Doubt: Ditto on the repeated use of the mysterious "existing mandate".
8. Comments on policy positions and work:
Doubt: One big box to fill in whatever you want NIAC to ignore. Boxes with feedback, can't usually be "tallied" into statistics. So, yeah.
NIAC’s Community Outreach Work:
As a grassroots organization, engaging with our members is of the utmost importance. Please help us assess the effectiveness of our work.
Doubt: Just because NIAC said it, doesn't make it true. Grassroots. As defined, Grassroots means "...ordinary people regarded as the main body of an organization's membership." NIAC being largely made up of very few fairly elite members, is about as far from being Grassroots, as NIAC is from LA. Where all the grassroots people are. Second, engaging with members? NIAC's utmost importance? Utmost? Even more utmost than say, meeting with American Congressmen? So if Trita had to choose between a member and a Congressman, he would put off the Congressman? Somehow I don't see this version of NIAC anywhere near that kind of utmost.
9. 2012 marked our second annual Leadership Conference. The 2013 Leadership Conference is scheduled to take place Sunday, October 13 - Tuesday, October 15. Did you participate in the 2012 Conference?
Doubt: Almost ALL of NIAC's events are held in DC. None of them inspire leadership. All of the events are led by others assigned by NIAC to lead you, and all you are to do is pay to follow them. This isn't a seminar on how to become a leader. It is held in DC. A place where like only 6 planes a day are allowed to fly into Ronald Reagan, the only airport with public transportation. The other airport you can fly into easier is Dulles, but takes you an hour and a half by bus to get to DC. Mind you, there are something like a billion Iranians in LA by now. Ironically one of the usual MCs of the NIAC event, Maz Jobrani's current comedy tour doesn't include DC. And he goes EVERYWHERE. DC Iranians are self-admittedly a different bird, the kind that excuses really bad Persian food as "The Best". And pretends they don't know exactly which house belongs to Reza Pahlavi in Virginia. The rest work for the VOA. "Work" is too harsh a term. what they do is even funnier than it sounds.
10. If you answered "no" to the question above, please explain what prevented you from participating (select all that apply).
Cost was out of my budget
Travel distance was prohibitive
The panelists / topics were uninteresting or unappealing
I could not take time off of work
I didn't know about it
Doubt: Khob Digeh. It wasn't in LA. Where ALL THE IRANIANS ARE.
11. Do you plan to attend NIAC's 3rd Annual Leadership Conference this year?
Doubt: Khob Digeh. This is just for planning how many of those teeny tiny (cheaper) water bottles to buy from Costco.
12. In the past year, have you attended a NIAC event in your city?
Doubt: This serves to prepare you for the next question. It suggests that NIAC has all these events you don't attend or hear about. Because you don't care. To be fair, NIAC actually hosts these events too. It's just that no one needs them, because as you will see, in your own community, you have FAR better events like these already, and you kind of like the better ones over the ones NIAC offers, so you kind of end up going to your own, and not the NIAC ones. A clear and classic example of how NIAC doesn't really know the American-Iranians like they claim to. This is because NIAC is in DC. Which is like Disneyland. Only far more frightening.
13. If yes, what type of event did you attend?
Norooz Day of Service
Policy / Legislative Training
Lecture / Speaker Series
Doubt: Didi? See all the same events you already have better ones in your community? In addition, who wants to work on Norooz? Why not get all the Iranians to work on the actual Day of Service. You know, so we can show America we are here to help too. Not just complain about America. Wait, that goes against all of NIAC's 5 priorities.
14. If no, why not?
Events in my area seemed unappealing uninteresting
Have not heard of any events in my area
Cost of events was prohibitive
Doubt: Deh? As you can see, this survey can never be answered truthfully. Since it forces you to choose the best answer "Scheduling conflicts", which is technically true. But the real truer answer is; "There were far better events already in my community and I go to the better ones. Yours usually suck and after attending one I usually feel weak and hopeless. Sometimes dirty."
15. Comments on Community Outreach and Programming:
Doubt: Again one big box to fill in whatever you want NIAC to ignore. Are you tired yet? Because you should be. NIAC is betting on it.
Due to the fact that our members live across the country, we rely heavily on email communications and social media in order to share information in a timely manner. In order to improve our communication strategies, please answer the following questions.
16. What is your preferred method of getting updates from NIAC?
NIAC Calendar of Events
NIAC Facebook Page
NIAC Twitter feed
NIAC Event-Specific Emails
Emails from NIAC Ambassadors
Doubt: Again designed to impress you with all of the wonders that a modern day laptop and Gmail account offers! Actually with the right apps you can do all of this from the latest iPhone. Which ALL NIAC staff have. Go see for yourself.
17. How would you describe the way in which you typically read NIAC newsletters / emails? (Select one)
I seldom open NIAC emails
I sometimes scan headlines in NIAC emails
I usually scan headlines in NIAC emails
I usually scan headlines and sometimes read some articles in NIAC emails
I usually scan headlines and usually read some articles in NIAC emails
I usually read most articles in NIAC emails
I always read all articles in NIAC emails
Doubt: The first negative answer is confrontational. Most peopple who want to give NIAC money, who take this survey, aren't confrontational. They are pre-programmed supporters, even if the first answer is the true answer. Which makes you choose ANY of the following answers in order to remain non-confrontational. But you are lying. To yourself. Be honest, you seldom open NIAC emails.
18. What is your sense for quantity of emails you receive?
I receive far too many emails
I receive a bit more than I prefer
I receive the right number of emails
I receive slightly fewer emails than I prefer
I receive far fewer emails than I prefer
Doubt: There is no right or wrong answer here. It is comepletely arbitrary. And has no bearing on how many emails NIAC will or won't send you. But it looks caring and impressive.
19. Do you have any suggestions on how best to share news and information with our members in a timely manner, or other general comments?
Doubt: 19 Questions? And you are still here? Standard survey protocol is 10 questions. By asking almost twice as many, NIAC proves 2 things (possibly maybe they are not this devious it just feels that way), 1) they don't know about standard survey protocol. 2) They want to wear you down. By the time you get to this last question where you can really define your opinion and tell NIAC what you think, you kind of don't feel like it anymore.
Not me though! I've taken extra doses of Vitamin V!
Dear NIAC, I don't actually have any suggestions how to better share news and information. Because, well, email is about it these days. Maybe start a Vine or Instagram stream? I'd say Pinterest, but I'm still not sure what that does.
I do have a general comment though. Your strategy of talking to American politicians as if this will somehow magiacally osmose into changing the horrendous conditions inside Iran is ludicrously insane. In fact by ignoring the obvious elephant in the room, namely our collective "Backyard", you are making things worse. You are reinforcing the stereotype that Iranians are arrogant, rude, lazy, cowards, and want someone else to clean up their messes for them.
Or in the case of NIAC's inability to stop the charge, apparently now, (thanks NIAC) Iranians deserve the MEK as their next saviors. Because (thanks NIAC) that is exactly what the US is now considering. Maybe not. Maybe the US is smart and sees through the MEK like we all do. Maybe pigs will fly one day.
But what is certain, is that by not complaining to our own, who right now, today, continue to oppress, terrorize, and embarrass us, we and NIAC are doing the most damage to our already damaged collective identity. Your strategy of pretending we are worth saving and worth listening to, and considering, in spite of our repeated demonstrated inability to act in our own defense and best interests, is nothing but a waste of precious time.
I shudder to think of all that NIAC could have accomplished, had it directed it's amply demonstrated intellect and shrewd solution vending, towards reforming Iranian poiticians and the un-Iranian politics of hate, rather than reforming too fast-changing American political opinions. Opinions about Iran that are now being formed incorrectly, (thanks NIAC) based on us not acting to correct our own idiots that caused/formed them, condemning us to the ridicule that has ensued for 33 years.
If you can do this. You (and all Iranians) will be welcomed at the White House. Not summoned to it, and told to "sit here and wait".