We must draw the line. We must make it perfectly clear where we stand. We must take a stand against religious fanaticism. We must reject and confront the darkest forces of evil terrorizing the Middle East and the free world in the name of God.
I never thought that at this age, after outgrowing the Iranian revolution, and political and religious extremism, I would utter such loaded cliches as “the free world” and “evil”. But this is no time for “balance” and “moderation”. We must take a stand.
This is no time to feel sorry for those who commit cold-blooded mass murder on such a calculated and horrific scale. This is no time to “understand” why fanatics spill blood so unconscionably, so zealously, so enthusiastically. This is no time to justify, minimize or ignore their savagery.
It is time that we, as Iranians, as Arabs, as Middle Easterners, as Muslims, as Jews, as human beings, stand up and confront those who so callously commit unspeakable crimes in our name, in the name of Divine Justice, in the name of the Almighty.
And it is time to stop blaming America.
It took what seemed like an eternity to write that last sentence. Why? Why is it so difficult to utter what I believe in? Why am I so cautious in acknowledging how great the United States is? Why do I sense fear? Why do I feel surrounded by angry faces pointing at me and branding me a foolish, naive traitor?
Am I bowing to the surge in American patriotism? Am I fearful of what my American neighbors may do to me if I tell them I'm Iranian? I don't think so. I love America, its democracy, its open society, its diversity, and its broad, institutional respect for freedom of thought and expression.
The problem is that these basic, secular, humanistic principles are not always reflected in American foreign policy. American presence in the Middle East has little to do with freedom. It is more about power, resources, money. Most people in the Middle East live under American-backed regimes which deny basic freedoms. But with all its imperfections, who could argue that America is by far the most humane world power in history?
I feel like crap for writing all this. Miserable. I love America and yet I'm ashamed to admit it. I don't recall a discussion with friends — Iranian or American — where we would simply point out how great this country is or give it credit for anything good, decent and honorable. It's so “uncool”. We constantly criticize. In wanting things to be BETTER, we forget that a lot of things are pretty damn good the way they are.
The funny thing is, I don't consider myself “American”, despite the fact that, technically, I'm American. I have been an American citizen since birth. My grandmother was American. My mother was born in Manhattan. I went to high school and college here. I live and work here. In many ways, I think and act American. But American, I'm not.
I'm Iranian. I publish iranian.com, remember? I will sit behind this computer and count the ways I love Iran until I'm physically unable. To do that, I have to be free. To achieve our full potential as human beings, to enjoy life to the fullest, we must be free. That is America's invaluable gift to all of us. Let us be grateful and show our appreciation in its time of need.