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I, Zarathushtra
For better or for worse, one of the living reminders of our sense of pride and nationalism comes from the Zoroastrians

Aryadoost Ahanshir
November 11, 2004

In response to your article, "Peace", I would like to say that the reason I think so many people were upset with Persia Lover's article [Bad Thoughts, Bad Words, Bad Deeds] was because of its inaccuracies.

Perhaps many people feel that a criticism of Zoroastrianism in a very narrowly defined spotlight of its corrupt period is somehow a support of Islam and the Islamic Conquest of Iran (and by extension, the Islamic Revolution). Whatever an individual's conjecture may be, it is of the utmost importance to be accurate in the information used to reach such a strong opinion.

I take issue with the fact that Persia Lover did not discuss the overwhelming majority of Zoroastrianism's positive influence of Iran, world religions, philosophy, science and a slew of other disciplines that have created the ancient basis of the modern world.

This point of scholarly accuracy is also something that irked me in your article when you wrote:

"We're angry because fourteen centuries ago we lost half of our identity to the Arab invasion. But, what about Alexander the not-so-great? How it is that Iranians do not hate the Greek the way they despise Arabs? Aha! He didn't hang around."

Actually Alexander was Macedonian and did hang around. In fact, he died in the Persian Empire.

"He didn't make us study Greek. He didn't change our alphabet, our language, or our appearance."

Of course he didn't make us study Greek. He could speak Persian fluently. Of course he didn't change our appearance. He became Persianized. He adopted Persian customs, laws, culture, dress, he took Persian wives, and maintained the structure of the Persian Empire.

"He did not force us to become Christians, and he didn't change our culture. But do we know why?"

Because Christianity didn't exist during that period of time.

"He simply didn't consider us his equal!"

You are right. He considered us his superiors.  When he came to the Persian Empire he saw things that amazed him in terms of the level of sophistication of the Persians. This sophistication was not only relegated to our advanced engineering and sciences but also our culture and rich literary and artistic heritage. Out of respect for the noble achievments of the Persians he conceded to the superiority of Persian culture. If you don't believe me, just try to name one city in Iran named Alexandria.

These are the reasons why we still name our children "Eskander", because many see him as a Persian. He was good to us. And the reason the Greeks have every right to be proud of defeating the Persians is the same reason the Vietnamese have a right to be proud of defeating the United States. Iran was the superpower of the era and a small backwater (comparatively) defended their homeland from an invasion of a superior force. We would be a spiteful and malicious lot if we were still angry with the Greeks for defending their homeland from invasion. This was not the case with Arabs. Arabs came to destroy and plunder the Persian Empire.

The Vietnamese are in their rights to still denounce Americans. Jews are in their rights to still denounce Nazis. And Zoroastrians are in their rights to still denounce Muslims. To not denounce them is the issue. It is an expression of civility and greatness on the part of the harmed.  However, if someone makes any criticism of a largely cherished religion (by Zoroastrians and Nationalists alike) then people will get upset, because it seems that there is a mark of disrespect being made on all those that suffered 'neath the heels of cruel Arab tyrants and savage Arab laws. The same dire straits that Iranians endure today.

For better or for worse, one of the living reminders of our sense of pride and nationalism comes from the Zoroastrians that still live in Iran and the faith they have so courageously preserved. It makes us feel that there are still those among us that are uncompromised - that there are those among us that are unconquered.

If we wish to preserve a living memory and a collection of powerful symbols to draw upon nationalist sentiment that we should not long endure to make ourselves obstacles of that purpose. It ultimately doesn't matter if there was a corrupt period or periods of the Zoroastrian history of Iran. That is not what it means to us anymore. The present meaning brings us a nostalgic taste of imperial glory. If people want that, give it to them. At this point in the history of Iranians worldwide, we should hold on to anything that nourishes our stength and protects our honor.

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