I'll show you Persian!
Most people who say "I am Persian" are afraid
of being identified as Iranian
January 21, 2005
I found Roozbeh Shirazi's "Identity
politics" amazingly refreshing
because this very morning I had an email form a very eloquent
(pardon me "Persian") who must have a great deal of time
on his hands because he had written a one
page email telling me
I should have not use the word Farsi to describe Persian language
(I had used it to
introduce a favorite person).
I was so sad that someone has so much time to go through the
wasteful process of quoting all kinds of sources so I would use "Persian" instead
of Farsi. Of course he ventured to throw in Mr. Yarshater's name
in the mix.
I had to politely inform him that I am pretty well read about
the history of my culture and many others. I also happen to have
met Mr. Yarshater and am very familiar with his work. Nevermind
that I have been studying Persian Literature since 9th grade
and have a bachelor's degree in this field. I also know Iran means
the Land of Aryans which is why I chose the name Aryan for my only
child (unlike many who choose names without knowing what they mean).
I had to point out that we have serous issues to deal with and
this old subject has run its course.
I agree with Roozbeh Shirazi that most people who say "I
am Persian" are
afraid of being identified as Iranian and in their mind they are
disassociating themselves form the current regime or the events
in Iran. I always identify myself as Iranian as a matter of fact
the joke is that "Azam always says 'that's because I'm Iranian'" and
people are always receptive towards me.
Yesterday, I spoke to the coordinator of an international film
festival (I have been asked to be the interpreter for one of my
favorite Iranian directors in the event when he comes to the
US) and she would not stop talking about how great Iranians were
how ignorant some Americans are for not recognizing that Iranians
are totally different than most other residents of the Middle East
region. It has been my experience that for the most part those
who refer to themselves as Persian do not have a good knowledge
of history either.
I was at an Christas party which
had a good mix of people. Someone I have known for twenty five
introduced herself as "Persian". Yet she was
totally lost when a guest pointed at my necklace and asked who
was on the coin. I answered that the history book I've researched
shows the coin to be Kiandokht or Azarmidokht, a princess from
Sassanid dynasty. My Persian friend simply said, "You Devil, how
do you find
the time to read these boring stuff?!"
The bitch in me could not help it so I answered, "Because I can
become a Persian and socialize with exciting Persians that can
teach me something!" Needles to say, she did not say goodbye to
me when she left -- which was just fine with this old dame.
The non-Iranian guest, however, was quite fascinated with the
unusual coin and wanted to know if he could buy one and he also
asked me to suggest some good books about Iran's recent history.
I recommended one written by Mohammad Heykal the legendary Egyptian
journalist which I found the most accurate one in describing the
circumstances before the revolution.
We have more important issues
to resolve. We can begin by trying to change the perception of
one person about Iranians every day. That would be 365 person per
If you are well read about history (I am a real history buff
and my TV is always on the History Channel when I am
at home and I pay a lot of money for history books) then you can
give books for those who are interested in the Persian Empire and
Please let's get real and accept that being
does not mean one is pro-theocracy or monarchy but it simply
means a person for the land of Iran whcih is now a samll section
used to be the Persian Empire.
PS. Let's learn form one of the most amazing figures
in history, Hassan Saba, who wanted to return Iran to its
glory days. Instead of arguing which name to use, he made Farsi
the official language, provided great social services and implemented
for the soul and body to keep both in good shape. How about it?