I just read the Columbia Iranian student’s news release about Ahmadinejad’s invitation to that illustrious institution of higher learning and was disgusted. Does our youth in America put their careers above everything? Does the youth in America not feel angry enough about anything to take even the slightest risk? Is the youth in America actually middle-aged? The Columbia Iranian Student’s new release read like a Mattel disclaimer. First and foremost it declared the non-political nature of the Association.
Apparently the bright young Iranian student at Columbia are more concerned about organizing cultural “functions” and “events” than about supporting the very real struggle of their fellow students back in Iran. They prefer to spend their time and energy on explaining the Half-seen to the Americans than on protesting stonings and torture in their country of origin. We sit here in front of CNN and lament the fact that Ahmadinejad has become a household term in the West but we are not willing to fight. No, we are too concerned about our own individual interests.
A line in the news release urges people, of a more fiery temperament I suppose, to consider the “sensitive position” in which the poor Iranian students at Columbia are being placed and be tolerant of their differing perspectives. The student at Amir Kabir University risk their lives and go to jail for openly calling Ahmadinejad a dictator but the “Iranian-Americans” at Columbia are afraid. Leave them to their books and to organizing Now Rouz parties. Fund-raisers for Encyclopedia Iranica after all, much safer gatherings!
The Iranian students of Columbia University, who should be the youthful leaders of a resistence and opposition movement against the Ahmadinejad regime, are not planning a big protest nor a demonstration like that which preceded the fall of the Shah when he visited Washington DC in the late seventies.
No acts of civil disobedience are in the plans nor enactments of the stoning of young women nor the hanging of homosexuals by our bright Iranian students of Columbia University. No, instead they have decided to treat the Ahmadinejad visit to their University like an “Introduction to Middle-Eastern History” lecture, only a ‘discussion’ session has been planned after the speech in the “safe” environment of a room 569 in Lerner hall. Might as well organize a group therapy session where the students express their ‘feelings’ about the controversial president.
With an attitude like the one expressed by the Iranian students of Columbia University how can the secular opposition to this theocratic regime have a chance in hell of making a difference? Here on one corner of the ring we have a president and his followers who believe in the imminent coming of the Mahdi and are willing to die for their beliefs and on the other corner we have no one really organized or angry enough but the Mojahedin Khalgh, which everyone but themselves despises.
Reza Pahlavi can’t get a few hundred people to hop a bus with him to New York. No, he prefers the safety of Voice of America studios a couple of exits away from his home to express his disgust with the Islamic regime. He should change that Lion with the Sword emblem in the middle of his beloved flag to one of a pussy cat sleeping. Why doesn’t anyone tell this guy that if you can’t get a few hundred people to come out and support you it is time to throw in the towel. Googoosh has more national stature than Reza Pahlavi!
Nor are the others in our community any better. On no occasion do we hear a unified cry of opposition no collective show of malcontent is ever manifest. The Mojahedin Khalgh are the only ones who make it to the news. Where are our professors and intellectuals who live abroad? What do they fear? Not being able to visit relatives back home? Not being able to go and do research in Isfahan? Do we sell our love for Iran and her people so cheap? Unfortunately we do.
Take a look at the brave Lebanese MP’s who continue to go and sit in that devastated and constantly targeted parliament. Not one of our fast-talking chest-puffing opposition leaders have the courage of those Lebanese legislators. Nor do they possess the graceful valor of the Burmese monks. Our noble prize winner, Ms. Shirin Ebadi, never does anything, since she won the prize, to get her arrested. Until we are willing to take at least a minimal amount of risk we are nothing but impotent voyeurs in a game played with an adversary who is much better equipped both ideologically and morally.
As it is we are giving secularism a bad name–for Iranians and many people in the war thorn region, it has come to connote a total lack of courage more than anything else.