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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


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' - //

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 to much?"

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.

John Mohammadi


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