Hassan Nemazee and his organization PAAIA has not only embarrassed themselves and their families. They have embarrassed the entire Iranian-American community.
During lunch our at work today, a co-worker came and asked me what I thought about his 12 year sentence and the fact that most of the news stories mentioned his founding of PAAIA and IAPAC.
My first reaction was: What does this have to do with me? I don’t know the guy! I’ve never met him! I’ve never given money to PAAIA! I was actually pretty ticket off. I didn’t ask my friend about every white guy that gets caught for something!
So I told him. But his reaction took me off guard. “But this is what you say whenever some crazy mullah in Iran makes a statement! That this has nothing to do with you, because you are Iranian-American and live in the US. Fine. But this guy is like you – an Iranian-American who lives in the US!”
Of course, he was completely wrong. But I realized one thing – however wrong he is, that is the way most people view it. We pass collective guilt onto groups for the actions of specific individuals. It’s unjust, but we are as guilty of it – in fact, we Iranian American are pretty damn judgmental.
I didn’t finish the conversation. I knew I couldn’t win it. I walked away. And the longer time went, the more pissed off I was – not at my co-worker – but at PAAIA and IAPAC.
Ultimately, they are responsible for this because they took up as their mission to give us a good image. And instead, it has turned out that their founder committed bank fraud and he has put all of us to shame.
And to make it worse – PAAIA has shown NO leadership to correct the situation. Instead, in a disgraceful way, they have looked the other way and let the rest of us bear the shame.