While the criterion you use to select a candidate to serve in the United States Congress is your business and yours alone. I can't help but think that if I were to suggest that I would vote for a congressional candidate based upon his or her hair color or pizza preference that you would find my basis of selection to be both arbitrary and ridiculous. Voting for Mrs. Ameri based solely on the basis of where she happened to be born is similarly befuddling.
You state in your commentary, “everything that we do in the US…in the name of Iran [is] a testament to our need for representation.” What, may I ask does any Iranian-American, including yourself, do in the name of Iran within the borders of the United States?
Every Iranian and Iranian-American that has made the difficult decision to emigrate from Iran in order to build a new life in America has accepted the fact that they have certain responsibilities to the body politic of their adopted home.
One of these responsibilities is not to advance the cause of hostile governments at the expense of the host country. Unless one is secretly doing things in the name of the Islamic Republic, I can't see how one's need for representation in the American Congress has anything to do with Iran or one being a ethnically Iranian.
While you might get a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing an Iranian born individual was serving in Congress, there is something you might have failed to consider. That is, if elected, Mrs. Ameri will not simply be the “Iranian” Congress woman she will be the duly elected member of Congress from the 1st Congressional District of Oregon.
Ameri would be the representative of the people of her district and no other people or district and she would be sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. She would not serve Iran, Iranians or Iranian-Americans, other than those residing in her district. Do you have any idea about the demographics of her district? Here are a few demographic details of the 1st District.
According to the Almanac of American Politics the 1990 demographics of Oregon's 1st District were as follows:
Population 568,501 Rural……………………18% Over 65……………….12% White…………………..91% Black…………………….1% Asian…………………….3% Native American……. 1% Hispanic…………………4%
What can we glean from such statistics? First, she lives in a district that certainly cannot claim to be a multicultural Mecca. Whites make up 91% of the population while all ethnic minorities combined account for less that 10% of the total. Do you really think that Mrs. Ameri is going to serve the interests of the ethnic minorities? It would be political suicide on her part to do so.
Ameri is trying to sell herself to the great White middle class majority which in this case means that she must cater to a conservative constituency and espouse views and positions which may put her in direct opposition to the opinions and views held by mainstream Iranian-Americans.
I would not go so far as to call Mrs. Ameri the Persian community's “Uncle Tom” as did Sepand Rezaii [See: “Aunt Ameri“], but facts are facts and the truth is that Mrs. Ameri has lived in the United States almost twice as long as she did in Iran. This fact alone means little, but taken with other facts it does paint a picture of how far from mainstream Persian-American traditions and values this candidate may be. Certainly, she is a Persian-American and I'm sure that she is proud of that fact as are all Persian-Americans.
You, Ms. Farhang, make much out of the fact that Ameri's first born is named Darius. My wife, who is Iranian, named our first child Silvia. Does that mean that she doesn't really have an Iranian heart? If so, she has successfully fooled our children since they speak Farsi with her, celebrate Persian holidays, enjoy Persian customs and traditions and go to Iran nearly every year.
Maybe I'll tell my kids their mom has been lying to them all these years about having a real Iranian heart. At the end of the day, however, what does being a Persian at heart” have anything to do with qualifying one to serve in the United States Congress?
I am sure that most Iranian-Americans respect those in the Iranian-American community who are proud of their roots. Most would be gratified to see that Mrs. Ameri stated that she was proud of her Iranian roots in the National Iranian American Council news release dated 2/19/04. Certainly, this NIAC web site is intended for a mainly Iranian audience. Then I looked at Mrs. Ameri's campaign web site which appears to be intended for much wider audience.
I fully expected that she would again express her pride in being Iranian. I was very confused, however, when I discovered that this congressional candidate, who in one interview gushed ethnic pride in being Iranian, failed to mention even once, anywhere on her own web site either the word “Iran” or “Iranian”. She merely mentions that she's fluent in “Persian”. I'm sure that it was simply a mistake that she overlooked the fact of mentioning her place of birth or her ethnic background in her campaign biographical data sheet.
If you don't believe me look at her site yourself and you will see that I am telling the truth. The Inescapable truth is that Mrs. Ameri is no different from any other political candidate in America. Every single, last one of them is two-faced. When it's advantageous to play up her Iranian roots to one group, she does it. When it's advantageous to conveniently forget her Iranian roots with another group, she does it.
Mrs. Ameri is no different from any other two-tongued politician in America? I am simply confused by the fact that you would play up her ethnicity to the extent that you do when she herself is trying to conceal it from the voters in her district. I fail to see the relevance of her ethnicity, especially in light of the fact that she doesn't wish for this information to be included on her web site. It almost seems as if you are more proud of her ethnic roots than she is.
I have nothing against Mrs. Ameri. I don't even reside in Oregon's 1st Congressional District. I have nothing against her politics and in fact other than what appears on her web site, I don't know what her positions are on various issues. A political candidate's position on the important issues facing America should determine how each of us casts our ballot. Any person in America is completely free, however, to select a political candidate based upon their own set of criteria whether that criteria is based on ethnicity, hair color, jacket size, number of cats and dogs, shoe size or nothing at all.
This is America after all, and far too many young men have paid the ultimate price over the years to guarantee that you have the right to use your vote wisely or foolishly. No one has the right to tell you that other considerations are far more important in a major political race than where a candidate was born, so I won't tell you that.
I will tell, however, that I am personally very uncomfortable with the idea of voting for someone based solely on their ethnicity or country of origin. The social and political fabric of America depends to a large extent on every ethnic group surrendering some small part of its ethnic identity in exchange for the common welfare which unifies all of us together as Americans. The simple, but unique belief that we are all Americans is the one unifying force that binds us together as one people and one nationality.
If Mrs. Ameri is elected to Congress, it will not be because the majority of her constituents are ethnically Iranian, but because she had a message that resonated with the mainstream electorate within her district. The NAIC web site states that only 6,500 Iranian-Americans live in Mrs. Ameri's district. That means Iranian-Americans make up less than 2% of the population of the 1st District. If all the district's Iranian-Americans cast their ballots based upon ethnicity there would still not be enough of them to elect Mrs. Ameri to Congress. There is nothing that that the millions of Iranian-Americans that live throughout the nation can do to help or hinder Mrs. Ameri on Election Day.
Given your views on voting, you had better hope that all those white conservative native born Americans do not take your advice and vote only for other white conservative native born Americans because if they do, Mrs. Ameri doesn't stand a chance on Election Day. Only the voters in her district will be able to rock the vote in her favor or against her. Let's only hope they do so, in one way or the other, because of her positions on the various issues that are of importance to 1st Distrist voters, and not because she was born in Iran.