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August 22, 2003

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* At least another generation

The story of Bijan - the Dutchman with a passion for Persian and things Persian was most inspiring for me [Persian in peril]. The notion that a foreigner can be so moved to attempt a "total immersion" in an alien language and culture so radically different from his own to the point of being fluent and almost indistinguishable from a native is quite impressive and most possible.

Numerous examples of similar foreigners abound in history. Luminaries of the 19th century such as Sir Richard Burton (the explorer and linguist par excellence) and Edward G. Browne (who wrote the definitive "History of Persian Literature" and learnt fluent Persian long before he visited Iran) are legion.

It is with great chagrin that I too concur with Prof. Nader-Baghaei on why Iranians, in contrast to other nations, are so prone to hide their cultural and linguistic heritage when living abroad. The stated cause of "fear of humiliation", while correct, does not fully explain the willingness to alter one's identity to the point of fully "disguising" one's roots and origins. A more probable cause could be a "sense of inferiority" towards members of certain European and North American countries.

Undoubtedly, the events of the Iranian Revolution, the US Embassy hostage taking, and the association of Iran, and Iranians as a collective entity, with global terrorism in the past two decades have significantly contributed towards this condition.

It will be at least another generation before Iran can fully struggle out of this quagmire and begin to reassert its traditional cultural and historic role on the world scene. We only hope that the Persian language and culture can sustain itself without further erosion while awaiting such a rediscovery by its citizens.

Farhad Froozan


* No wrong to "put right"

I have several problems with Mr. Baghaei-Yazdi's arguments [Persian in peril].

First, his friend, Mr. Bijan, is a bit strange. If i, as an iranian, have several childhood friends who are chinese, and then i name myself a chinese name, learn to recite Chinese poetry flawlessly, and then attend chinese conferences, let us admit it, I am a little weird. Bijan is not a bad person, just weird.

Secondly, unlike what Mr. Yazdi likes to think, there is no wrong for him to "put right." He should lose the illusions of control and not think of himself as the sole savior of persian language or any language. This kind of Jesus Christ mentality is what got us into a lot of trouble.

Lastly, fear of being foreign is not particular to iranians. It is omnipresent everywhere immigrants and foreigners are. the desire to be assimilated and be comfortable in a foreign environment is not a flaw or a fault, it is human and applaudable.

I was in Iran a few months back and going through books in local bookstores, i can assure you that all of us would be amazed at the forward strides the persian language has made.

Leave farsi alone, it will survive me and you and all the rest of doomsayers, find something else to pick on.

Ramin Tabib
Los Angeles


* So easy to blame others

"Twinkle twinkle tiny star" reminded me so much of Iraj Pezeshkzad's novel, Da'i Jan Napoleon. As far as Mr. Ashtiani and Mash Qassem in that story are concerned "hameh cheez zir-e sar-e engelisast". It is so easy to blame others for our problems and our incompetencies. Iranians just love to think everything that happens to them is the result of the British and American and Russian conspiracies. It is the easy way out. How about taking some of the blame ourselves for our problems?

An Iranian conspiracy theorist!!!

Nahid Shafiei


* Why "catch up" to the West?

In reply to Fereydoun Hoveyda's "The morning after",

There is much that is bad about technology and science and what it has done to the human condition. Catch up to what? Take the quality of life in the vast USA? Depth of friendship? Family? Community? Crime rate, mental health, alcoholism.... The atomic bomb was not a good thing, not something to emulate.

We are a nation of consumers who trade culture and tradition for material objects and spend the best hours of our lives working for others as wage slaves to try to pay for it all while we are mired in debt, alienation and loneliness and we shunt our elderly into institutions and our young children into day care.

Our industries pollute the air and the water, our science and medicine although curing infectious diseases have actually propagated the spread of genetic defects which otherwise might have been selected out by death. The curing of infectious diseases has created an overpopulation of this planet taxing its very ability to survive, its ecosystems and human infrastructures to the point of collapse. The spread of this population has led to loss of habitat and the extinction of thousands of species of plants and animals. A few capitalists live well in the West and everyone else is reduced to being a blind consumer. The quality of the products is not good.

The USA was created by people who valued self sufficiency, the pioneers, now no one knows how to make their own clothes, or shoes or grow their own food, or how to cook or make their own musical instruments, or furniture or roofs or masonry. People do not have any attachment to geography or place like a village where one's ancestors had lived for the past 2000 years, no folk songs from your own village, you get my point, the quality of modern life sucks, it is impersonal, irreverent and transitory.

It is no surprise to me that there was a reactionary movement in Iran as horrible as it has been. Traditional societies try to maintain their own identity with Xenophobia and isolationism which is bad but by the same token so is global economy and cultural imperialism. Why should every culture in the world trade its own traditions, for products made in factories by foreigners, even indigenous music is traded for rock, why should everyone be drinking Coca Cola for example when Dugh is better for you?

As in biology the loss of genetic diversity leads to extinction so with Homo Sapiens, the thinking creature, the loss of diversity of thought leads to extinction...our very Democracy is in peril in this nation right now because public and congressional debate is not being allowed on burning issues such as decisions to make war.

And another thing the gulf is wide between the third world and the West by no accident, it by design, by intention, by imperialism and capitalism and no accident. The advanced industrial nations may not be as blatant as they were as colonial powers during the mercantilism of the 18 and 19th centuries but it is just as effective at keeping the third world in a vassal state.

So the question becomes, why would you want to "catch up" to the West when they are running on a one way street to hell. Yes Iran is in a mess, much of which is not of its own making but much about Iranian culture and values are of great merit and worth preserving. People who live only for scientific and technological advancement and change perhaps having nothing worth keeping...or worse still can't even recognize the worth of historic buildings, institutions or traditions...

Brian Appleton
aka Rasool Aryadust


* Social reality was religous

I read your article on mossadegh [We need a break, for good] and I enjoyed it, but I have to disagree with the notion that religion had no place at that time and secularism reigned supreme.

Any look back at the history will show you that as long as ayatollah kashani supported mossadeq the foreign powers had no chance of overthrowing him and as you can recall the first coup failed for this very reason, but notice when kashani withdrew his support, the green light was open.

I am not advocating the ulama either way, but we have to realize the power and influence they yieled at that time, at the time of tobacco revolt, at time of revolution, etc. maybe now things are a different story, but back then actually i would argue the social reality was no doubt religous and that is what the revolution was, a manifestation of that social reality.

Lawrence Reza Ershaghi


* Islamic opposition drowed secular democracy

Mr. Javid's article [We need a break, for good] "We need a break, for good" starts by asserting that "less than three decades ago, religion had no meaningful part in Iran's political life. Nor was religion perceived as a serious political force in any other country with a Muslim population".

I beg to differ, since in 1973 and beyond, political Islam was very strong and growing dominant among the opposition of muslim countries' governments.

Whether it was the Mojaheds in Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, and beyond, unfortunately the Islamic opposition was drowning out secular democracy as an alternative among the opposition in most of the middle east.

If Mr. Javid means that *governments* in muslim countries were mostly secular, that holds true even today. But they are certainly not democracies.

An Iranian


* Terrorism will be treated as such

It is not the Islamic Republic of Iran that will be vanquished. The only people in Iran we intend to defeat  are the terrorists and those unelected officials who are holding the people of Iran at gun point .

The policy of sponsoring terrorist is not a new foriegn policy on the part of the "Foolish hard liners in Iran". They have advocated slaughtering innocent people for years.

It is not only a foriegn policy, it's also a domestic one. In order to keep the people under their thumb they have murdered and pillaged all who dare utter a whisper against them.
What's different is our policy on the subject. Our all new "one strike your out policy "  states that any one who harbors or sponsors a terrorist is a terrorist and will be treated as such.

US American


* Nationalism (can be) as dangerous as religion

Regarding Ms. Dosar-Gohi's article "Pure as a mutt",

Nationalism can be just as dangerous as religion in its power to drive people to hate "others." Furthermore, in my opinion, nationalism and religion are both largely based on myth.

A. Zamani


* Congrats to our Indian cousins

Today is India Independence Day; 56 years ago on this day, the British colonial rulers were kicked out through a massive display of non-violent resistance.

Today, India has become an economic and military powerhouse. India has been a successful experiment in Democracy. While ethnic and religious strifes abound, and despite a population of over 1 billion, and no Saudi or Iranian style Oil income, the country has gained a foothold in the global economy, producing everything from needles to airplanes on its own. As a small example, Indian software exports top US $1 billion annually.

This is to congratulate our Indian cousins (ever heard of Indo-Iranian family of languages?) on such a fine day and for us Persians to learn a lesson or two from them >>> See

Aref Erfani


* Perfect (English) rozeh

The perfomance [Rozeh khooni -- in English] is unbelievable, the voice is perfect for rozeh. I enjoyed it a lot.

Kazem J

More letters (August 22, 2003)
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All past letters

By subject
August 22, 2003

* So easy to blame others
* Terrorism treated as such

US foreign policy
* US policies hypocritical
* Reminders

* 20th century: worst
* Joke? America god's gift
* Religous social reality
* Secular democracy drowned
* Hooligan coup
* Still remembered

Hedayat, Hoveyda & The Bomb
* Improved humanity? How
* Why "catch up" to West?
* Too simplistic
* Mullahs very intelligent
Abbas Abdi
* Recognizing past failures
* Collaborators distract nation
* Arrogant ignorance
* Abdi not a gov employee

Azeri, ethnic
* Separatism? No way
* Undermining integrity
* So easy to blame others
* Be proud of ourselves
* Died in prison called Iran
* At least another generation
* No wrong to "put right"
* Pity not knowing language
* Not a Persian problem
* I'm Greek!
* Be a bit more adventurous
* Exceptionally nostalgic
Hadi Khorsandi
* You are an American trader!
* Mysterious eyes
* Congrats to Indian cousins
Iranian-American PAC
* Search for interns
* Perfect (English) rozeh

* Short and not so sweet


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