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What's wrong with this picture?
We have spent countless hours debating, arguing and writing about absurd and silly subjects



March 14, 2007

Collectively, we in the Iranian-American and Iranian-Canadian communities [Iranian-North Americans], have once again shown our brothers and sisters in Iran as well as the many other Iranian expatriate communities around the world what we stand for and what really matters to us, or more accurately what doesn't really matter to us. As is far too often the case, we've once again shown that we never miss a chance, to miss a chance to ferociously and forthrightly speak out against the cruel and often barbaric treatment meted out to our friends, family and fellow countrymen by Islamo-faucist thugs employed by the regime in our homeland.

While we like to brag on ourselves as being the most highly educated, privileged and prosperous of the many distinct overseas-Iranians communities, sometimes it seems that we waste our time and talents on relatively meaningless and inconsequential matters, such as all the words which have been wasted on the movie 300 while far too few words were used to condemn those who once again brutalized our sisters in Tehran last week. I don't know why I should be surprised or shocked though. We, in the North American Iranian communities, may be well educated and we may like to slap ourselves on the back for having "made it" in western society, but in my humble estimation, collectively, many of us can't see the forest for the trees.

Surely, Khoda has blessed our people by giving us more than our fair share of fine writers who possess unique powers of perception, persuasion and intellect. Many possess an agility and prowess with the written word that is far sharper than the sharpest and most dangerous of daggers, but instead of putting that talent to work for our homeland and our people we have frequently wasted it. One of God's gifts to us is a wondrous power to wield the pen with lethal precision. Many times, however, instead of writing about the monumental issues which have confronted our people day-after-day, decade-after-long-and-agonizing-decade, what have we done? We have spent countless hours debating, arguing and writing about absurd and silly subjects.  Instead of using our power of the pen to do what we can to relieve our people's suffering by shining the brilliant, blinding and unrelenting light of truth on the Islamo-faucists' evil regime, we have far too often written about mind-numbing drivel. 

Inherent in the power of the written word is the promise it holds for truthfully informing the world of the trials and tribulations our brave nation and brutalized countrymen.  Unfortunately, the only way that the truth can possibly help to set our people free is if we recount to the English speaking world how our countrymen have bravely endured for so long.  A well-informed world just might care enough to raise its thunderous voice to demand justice for the Iranian people. If we utilized our talents wisely to inform humanity of the continual crimes and indignities perpetrated against the Iranian people, perhaps our people's days of nightmarish suffering would end sooner.  If, however, we fail to continually inform the world as to what our people go through, then only a whisper from the world will be heard, every so often, questioning why Iranians don't share in the rights that all other humans around the globe have been granted by God.      

The world needs to know how each and every day, the tyrannical regime of Qomites metes out a non-stop diet of cruelty, humiliation, torture, deprivation and death to our people. The people of the world should never be able to pick up a newspaper or magazine without having to encounter yet another article, editorial, or special report recounting the suffering of our people and the hideousness which circumstances have forced them to call daily life. The people of the world must be told how all our people, but, especially how our women and children, have been made to suffer at the hands of brutal leaders who persecute them only for having the audacity to want the same things which other people in other counties want; to live with freedom, dignity and respect. Names like Saeed Mortazavi and Parvin Hosseini should be seared into the minds of English speaking people beside infamous names like Hitler, Stalin and Sharon.

There is hardly a day that I can open a newspaper without reading about the suffering of the people of Darfur in Sudan.  Similarly, the suffering of the people in Palestine is recounted 24 hours-a-day on radio and television in hundreds of different languages around the world.  The plight of our people, however, is hardly ever mentioned.  Whose fault is this you may wonder? Is it possible that there's some international conspiracy of silence when it comes to reporting the indignities our people face?  Is it possible that all of the media outlets around the world are agents of the Islamo-faucist regime or at the least working in close cahoots with it? It would be easy for us to conclude this because we, after all, are a nation of conspiracy theorists, but that would be just a little too easy, don't you think?   

The sad and shocking truth is that we have no one to blame, but ourselves for the world failing to notice the plight of our people. Some of us, in fact, fail to notice the plight of our people anymore. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our own personal lives and somehow the troubles facing our friends and family in Iran seem so very far away. Instead of telling the horror filled stories of the Iranian people, many of us write about things which are of little or no consequence to anyone or we write nothing at all.  More than a few Iranian-North American writers seem to enjoy frittering their time away writing about one little manufactured tempest in a teapot after another.  Perhaps, that's what having a comfortable expatriate life is all about; having all the free time one needs to create and write about the latest "crisis" in the Iranian-North American community. I doubt that there are many writers in Iran who have the luxury of manufacturing crises to write about when so many of them are targets of the regime.   

While our lives in North America are immeasurably better than tens of millions of our countrymen in Iran, I hope that I never see the day where we get so comfortable that we are unable to hear the cries of our nation, or to feel the pain of our people.  With Nowruz just around the corner, I pray that the West's seductive lifestyle never renders us unable to recognize that the heart of the Iranian nation is that thumping sound we hear in our own chests?  Though distance and time have separated us from our homeland and people, we must never forget who we are. The day must never be allowed to come that our tongues and pens fall silent as long as our people continue to suffer. We must be their voice to the English speaking world and we must make their thirst for freedom and hunger for dignity known to the world.

How have we gotten to the point where the general North American public knows that some of us don't like the movie 300, but they don't know that women are frequently stoned to death and minors are routinely hanged in Iran? Why is it that they know that we'll loudly scream "police brutality" and "racial/ethnic discrimination" when one of our pampered young men refuses to obey a policeman's lawful order to leave the UCLA library and as a result gets tazed, but they don't know how our women are beaten in broad daylight on crowded Tehran streets by club-wielding Islamo-faucist trash?  How is it that they know we'll collectively raise holy hell if National Geographic has the nerve to call the Persian Gulf, the Khaleej al-Arabi, but they don't know of all the newspapers which have been closed in Tehran and of all the reporters, and bloggers who've been arrested, brutalized, raped, imprisoned and, even, murdered by the regime?  Some among like to insult Americans and Canadians with hurtful comments about how little they know of our country.  Why, may I ask, would the average Joe or Josie in North America want or need to know about Iran? The answer is they wouldn't. If they don't know the plight of our people, it isn't their fault, but ours.  Some of us pompously expect our non-Iranian neighbors in America and Canada to know about and care what happens to Iranians halfway around the world without us having to do anything to enlighten them.  People, I ask in all humility, what's wrong with this picture?

We are not powerless. The only way we can rightly consider ourselves powerless is if we think of ourselves as victims. While all of us have met fellow Iranians who've lived their lives in North America as if they had a big scarlet letter "V" tattooed on their forehead, none of us are victims. We may have a few self-absorbed sissies in our ranks, but no victims. Our brothers and sisters who have suffered for so long under the boot and lash of the un-reformable monstrosity call the Islamic Republic of Iran are victims! Much to their credit though, they have never faltered in courageously facing the cruel indignities heaped upon them by their tormentors while we have lived our fat and happy lives abroad, far from their suffering and even further from their anguished cries for help.   While they most certainly deserve our love, our honor and our respect, they, most of all, deserve our help. We are the lucky ones if one can think of life in a Diaspora as being lucky. Our community lives in freedom; our community members are highly educated, and; collectively, our ethnic group is filthy rich compared with other ethnic communities across North America.

While we all share a love for our homeland, we are not all alike.  Each and every one of us is an individual with a distinct personality. Likewise our community is comprised of different kinds of Iranian-Americans and Iranian-Canadians. Many amongst us are North American immigrants who were born, raised and educated in Iran. Then there are others among us- those in the second-generation who were born and raised outside Iran to Iranian-immigrant parents and then there are those like my sister and I, who are of mixed parentage. One thing that the "born-abroaders" and the "mixis" have in common is that we were neither born in Iran nor have we ever lived there. The tie that binds us and our elders who emigrated, before we were born,  to our homeland is not merely one based on blood, but one of love; love for our homeland, its culture, its language, but most of all, its people. All North American Iranians... not just Persians, but the entire tapestry of ethnic groups who look east in the night sky when they think of our Iranian homeland...must use their talents to make the world see, understand and feel the suffering of our nation. The way we do this is by making our voices heard. We ought to make it our mission in life to inform our non-Iranian friends and neighbors of what is and has been happening in Iran for three decades. 

Those among us who are more comfortable writing in Farsi about the injustices our people endure should be writing everyday. If you more comfortable writing in Farsi, get a friend or younger family member to help you translate the passion of your heart's words into English, so you can share those important words with non-Iranians. Those of us who are members of the second-generation have a part to play as well.  We can't shrink from our responsibility to communicate the horrors facing our cousins in Iran just because we weren't born there.  Those of us who were born and raised in English speaking countries are far more comfortable than many of our elders in putting English onto paper. We must do our part in communicating the situation in Iran to the wider English-speaking public, especially to those who are young, successful and highly educated, like us.  Many of our upwardly mobile non-Iranian friends will one day be in positions of power and authority throughout Canada and the United States.  If we can make such people want to befriend our nation and our people, then someday they just might be in positions of power to do just than. 

I hope that the suffering of the people in places like Darfur and Palestine ends soon. However, I feel that our paramount responsibility is to collectively do what we can for our people before we think of trying to help others. How can we possibly hope to make a positive difference in the lives of others if we don't first make a positive difference in the lives of our own countrymen? 

Iran, first, last and forever! Comment

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To: Lance Raheem

Lance Raheem



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