February 12, 2001
Doth protest too much
Me thinks Mr. Guive Mirfendereski doth protest too much ["Power
of one", "Shocked
and saddened"]. Warning that those who do not jealously guard
their legitimate civil rights in the U.S. risk being unfairly singled out
for mistreatment due to their ethnic/national origin is not "trivializing"
the Japanese internment experience, it is learning from it.
Furthermore, for your information, the Immigration and Naturalization
Service has already considered creating internment camps for Iranians and
other "undesirables" (see Jeanne A. Butterfield's article entitled
"Do Immigrants Have First Amendment Rights?" in the Middle East
Report, No. 212 Fall 1999, for the discussion about INS's report on 'Alien
Terrorists and Undesirables: A Contingency Plan' - http://www.merip.org/mer/mer212/212_butterfield.html).
Let's also not forget the U.S. has a long history of such forms of abuse
against various unpopular ethnic and immigrant groups. Should we wait until
we're in the camps before we assert the rights which we enjoy under the
same Constitution as everyone else in the US?
Furthermore, complaining about Sen. Diane Feinstein's collective demonization
of Iranian students is not being anti-Semitic, and in fact such a claim
is itself a cheapening of the Nazi atrocities. Finally, I have yet to
find any hint in any of the letters from the PWC group which "identifies
America as the enemy", as Mr. M. has chosen to characterize it.
Certainly, in a free and democratic society, criticism of official government
policies and the statements of our elected politicians is not only allowed,
it is our duty. Mr. Mirfendereski just doesn't seem to get it: Iranian-Americans
are ENTITLED to the same protection of the same laws as Polish-Americans,
Jewish-Americans, Hispanic-Americans... and that includes the right to
be free from discrimination based on national origin or ethnic identity,
REGARDLESS of what is going on inside Iran.
I suppose Mr. M. will next try to justify job and housing discrimination
against Iranian-Americans, and suggest that we should just shut up and
take our grievances to the government of Iran? Are we to allow all of our
constitutional rights to be violated with impunity the vain hopes that
"Maybe, just maybe, if one does not make much of it, it will not amount
Sorry, that's not the answer. Iranian-Americans should vehemently insist
on and assert every single one of their legal rights at every opportunity
and through every legal means, and should take every opportunity to act
in a collective manner. I for one therefore applaud the Persian
Watch Cat (PWC) and wish them the very best in their endeavors.