Happy 10th Birthday NIAC! (Please…)

This month, this week, or possibly tomorrow night, NIAC celebrates just 10 short years of shorter service to Iranian-Americans. Exactly when the celebration is, depends on who you know, if you’re on the list (I would like to be), and if you happen to be in DC or not (I am).

Telling of the way in which NIAC has conducted it’s activities these past 10 years.

A ten year anniversary is a milestone of sorts, and whether we agree with NIAC or not (I don’t), as such, it nonetheless deserves a look back to see what NIAC has listed as its accomplishments and give it as fair a shake as is possible to give an unauthorized self appointed members-only politics advocacy club.

NIAC’s own list of Accomplishments:

Preventing War

NIAC: Defeated a Congressional resolution that would have paved the way for a US-Iran war.

B: I’m not so sure NIAC single-handedly prevented a US war with Iran. Because I doubt very much the US had any reason or interest in going to war with Iran. especially given that today is also the daily anniversary of 18 US servicemen who have committed suicide and commit suicide every day, as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan. 39 of them will try to kill themselves today. SO, I’m not so sure NIAC was instrumental. Additionally, I don’t remember being asked if I would like NIAC to do this on my behalf.

NIAC: Blocked a Congressional resolution green-lighting Israeli strikes on Iran.

B: The last time I checked, Israel was not the 51st State (yet!), and did not need the US Congress to OK them to attack any country. The last time I checked, the IA in NIAC stood for Iranian-American, not Iranian-Israeli, so stopping Israel is not IA advocacy, and not NIAC’s self appointed job. Israel attacking Iran is bad. If we were asked, and if we cared to, I am sure we would have all decided to ask Israel directly, not Congress to red-light it.

Supporting Human Rights

NIAC Championed the establishment of a United Nations human rights monitor on Iran to investigate human rights abuses.

B: What this says is the UN was already looking into it. And NIAC merely agreed that it was a good idea. Me too. But the IA were not consulted. So deciding to agree on a good idea by the UN that we already all agree on, is pretty worthless.

NIAC: Advanced the first targeted measures against Iranian government officials responsible for human rights abuses.

B: First “Championed and now “Advanced”. I am not sure what this means, I’m guessing it means “agreed” to efforts already underway by people more important. I too Advance this and even Champion it as well. Although I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

NIAC: Ensured human rights were on the agenda when the U.S. began talks with Iran.

B: This suggests it was not on the agenda. SO I’m kind of calling Bullshit on that one. Again, if I could have seen even a faked copy of an agenda with “Human Rights” missing from it, I’m there.

NIAC: Spurred President Obama to condemn the Iranian government’s brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators after Iran’s disputed election, while refraining from endorsing any political faction.

B: “Spurred”? You Spur a horse, or a beast of burden. Never mind that during the height of it, Obama called the election, “…I have deep concerns about the elections, and I think the world has deep concern about the election,”. Not much of a spur, and not what I would call a condemnation. More of a condomnation really. And I thought Moousavi won? So why not an endorsement? Why not call for the real winner of the election to be put in place and freed from detention? If I recall, this was pretty much the predominant IA feeling at the time. So do you work for us or what?

NIAC: Helped remove sanctions on vital online communication tools like MSN Messenger, Facebook, and YouTube to ensure the free flow of information in Iran.

B: “Helped”? How? Does anyone really think that MSN Messenger, Facebook are not monitorable? How do they ensure the Free flow of information? Again, had we been asked, I am pretty sure we would discuss the idea of Iran’s Monitoring of these media, not so much if they are allowed in or not. Also China does not allow Facebook, and the US loves China. Just ask Chen Guangcheng.

Opposing Discrimination

NIAC: Led the campaign to fix the U.S.’s single-entry visa policy and to allow Iranian students to receive multiple entry visas.

B: This is not an important issue to the majority of IA who are already here. Some IA would like their cousins and nephews and nieces to be able to get out of Iran to come to the US and study, but that is what Sponsorship is for. But it is an important Iranian issue.

NIAC: Removed offensive and inaccurate portrayals of Iranian Americans in the film Crossing Over.

B: Me and apparently everyone in the US did not see this film. Yet “Shah’s of Sunset” was picked up for a second season. I think we all want that dealt with more. So…

NIAC: Effectively opposed and stopped legislation that would bar every Iranian from entering the United States.

B: Effective indeed! If you are Iranian and not an IA, this would most certainly be important. Unfortunately this legislation did not apply to IA. Again, who are you working for? IA or I? Should you change your name to NIC?

NIAC: Halted an offensive ad campaign that equated all Iranians with Ahmadinejad.

B: Here is the ad, you judge if this suggested IA or I are equal to Ahmadinejad. Teh ad said, “Iran makes a KILLING every day we wait” The word “KILLING” was next to a barrel of oil and a pile of Dollars. The ad was in support of clean energy legislation calling for an end to U.S. dependence on oil imported from countries, like Iran.

NIAC: Obtained an apology from Fox sportscasters for racially discriminatory remarks against NBA player Hamed Haddadi.

B: While the tone of the Fox sportscasters was definitely racist. “…you sure it’s not Borat’s older brother?” Borat was from Kazakhstan. Hamed is from Ahvaz. The suggestion that being from Kazakhstan is necessarily a bad thing, is the racism. By suggesting IA would be upset for being associated with Kazakhstan, NIAC put using jeopardy with the people of Kazakhstan. The point is, you have to be careful. Had IA been consulted, the issue of insulting Kazakhstan would have come up.

NIAC: Compelled a retraction from Rep. Jane Harman for her statement regarding the “separation” of Iran’s ethnic groups.

B: Again, not an IA issue. It is a big issue in Iran though. Suggestion that Iran be broken up into smaller sates is a big issue. NIAC seems to continually mistake Iranian domestic issues of importance, and assume IA want something done about it. This is not necessarily the case. More reason why consulting IA beforehand is important.

NIAC: Ended Monster.com’s discrimination against Iranian Americans.

B: This was a good one.

NIAC: Elicited an apology from MSNBC’s Don Imus for a derogatory comment about an Iranian airliner crash that killed 43 passengers.

B: This was another good one. It was the right thing to do.

Promoting Our Heritage and Community

NIAC: Corrected the National Geographic Society’s 8th edition maps to read “Persian Gulf” instead of “Arabian Gulf.”

B: As long as Iran is not free, and a burden to the region, this will be an ongoing issue. Any stay of this, is temporary. Traditionally the gulf has been called the Persian Gulf. The basis of who gets to call it what they want, is usually based on the total amount of border on the Gulf. Whoever has the most border, gets to name it. Of course you have to also agree that Iran is Persia, in order for the Gulf to be called Persian.

NIAC: Published the first-ever Census of the Iranian-American community.

B: No really. They published the US Census. The same one you can download for free, or just read it online. I am hoping some dumb millionaire paid for that one.

NIAC: Registered thousands of Iranian-American voters.

B: …that did not end up voting. Most Iranians don’t vote. So job well done in that area.

Ongoing Work:

NIAC leads the largest coalition of advocacy groups in Washington DC on US-Iran related issues.

B: What is the name of that coalition, and how do we get involved?

NIAC regularly hosts briefings on Capitol Hill for congressional staffers on areas of interest to the Iranian-American community. Some of our past briefings have focused on Iran’s parliamentary elections, Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s role in Iraq, and more.

B: While important that the staff f politicians know this stuff, it is more important for the politicians to know this stuff. These sound like it was a mixer for college interns. I could be wrong, but as a concerned IA, I simply don’t know what was said or done on my behalf. Because I’m not told before. Also telling US politicians stuff about Iran’s internal machinations, foreign policy, and such isn’t an IA advocacy issue. We are here. We know about American issues of importance to IA. We are not in Iran. Most of us don’t know anything about Iran. We moved to the US. Advocate for us here. Not Iranians in Iran. Unless we tell you to. It’s not an automatic.

NIAC defends Iranian-American interests against corporate and media bias and governmental neglect.

B: if we had rampant examples of this, this would be good. Since we own or invest in a lot of US business, it isn’t.

NIAC monitors, influences, and shapes national legislation affecting Iranian Americans.

B: Not sure that NIAC does this from the track record.

NIAC trains Iranian Americans through civic participation at dozens of workshops across the United Sates, strengthening future generations.

B: Mostly NIAC trains folks to represent NIAC locally and to raise funds for NIAC.

NIAC gives our youth a helping hand through office internships and the NIAC Public Service and Journalism Fellowship and has supported youth-related efforts such as Iranian Alliances Across Borders’ Camp Ayandeh leadership program.

B: I am against anything with the word “Camp” in it. Other than that, this is a good thing to do. If the training was juts to help NIAC, it isn’t. Again, I don’t know. Can’t easily find out.


NIAC is weak at best at advocating for Iranian Americans. Or finding out what the average temperature of Iranian Americans across the NATION (of America) want done in civic life, and then getting authorization and money from us, to go off and do it.

At worst, NIAC is not entirely misguidedly advocating for ALL IRANIANS. Not a bad thing. so maybe all of this confusion is as simple as re-arranging 2 letters.

Maybe NIAC is really NAIC! Not a bad thing if you think about it. But don’t think about it too much.

It can make you crazy, like me.

Happy Birthday NIAC! Hoping your next 10 years will better than the first!

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