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Sit and have a shot of vodka
You present yourself as a proud Iranian, yet you parrot the same kind of hateful and racist rhetoric that comes from the likes of Pat Robertson and Daniel Pipes


January 17, 2007

In response to Amil Imani's "Mistaken insanity":

Amil Imani,

You actually have the nerve to identify yourself as someone who has “been writing and speaking out for the struggling people... of Iran”, and in the same breath, you recommend the “effective inculcation of a religious software” for the majority of Iranians and the rest of the Muslim world.  I find it funny (and frightening) that you say that, because this ‘solution’ that you are endorsing isn’t all that different from the efforts of the mullahs you denounce, or the fascists and Nazis of Europe, or the assholes currently in power in the US, for that matter. 

The Islamic Republic has been attempting to create model Muslim citizens for the past few decades with the educational system, and unless kilid parties and the hymen reconstruction industry are signs of progress, then the children of the Revolution haven’t quite had all components of that religious software installed yet.

The unashamed lack of subtlety in your hypocrisy genuinely impresses me.  You present yourself as a proud Iranian, yet you parrot the same kind of hateful and racist rhetoric that comes from the likes of Pat Robertson and Daniel Pipes.  In fact, as an Iranian speaking hatefully of other Iranians, you do the job far more effectively than they could ever do.  Just to illustrate this idea more clearly, I wanted to juxtapose a quote of yours next to one from Pipes:

Imani: Muslims are among the world's apt fence-sitters. They flock to the source of power, as flies to honey. The minute they sense the defeat of Islamism, they will likely abandon it en mass.

Pipes: Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene...All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.

The content is different, but the contemptuous tones of each quote harmonize with one another.  In Imani’s view, if someone is a Muslim, then he has no sense of loyalty to political ideas and principles; a Muslim is insect-like in terms of his attraction to authority, which he craves in the same way that he craves physical sustenance.  Amil feels comfortable generalizing about the character and tendencies of all Muslims, who constitute over one billion -- I repeat, ONE BILLION -- members of the human population.  Yet he has no problem criticizing totalitarian ideologies.

And while it is true that Pipes’s statement is patently racist and xenophobic, I would argue that your comment, Imani, is even worse.  At least Pipes confines his attack here to the hygiene, customs, and cuisine of over ninety percent of Iran’s population; you go even further and depict the majority of the nation that you are supposedly speaking out for as a bunch of easily ruled, disloyal, and parasitical fools.

The worst part: you, as an Iranian, write this piece for the public sphere, in English.  In this day and age, literature like this very much operates in the service of racism and the imperialist neoconservative agenda, notwithstanding the feeble afterthought of a disclaimer at the end of your article: derrr, invasion is crazy, man.  It’s only insane that people would take the things that you are saying seriously.  How can you claim to be advocating for the people of Iran, when you insult the religious identity of the great majority?  You sound like a neocon.

I have been read enough of Imani’s articles to not be surprised by his writing a piece so full of contempt, self-hatred, and shame with respect to the main religious identity of his own people.  Imani tries to sugarcoat a message which essentially encourages self-loathing for most Iranians, using armchair philosophy and simplistic, circular arguments, which do not take the myriad factors beyond Islam proper (other reasons do exist) into account when addressing the problems that the Iranian people face.  I make this criticism, not as a Muslim, nor as a Muslim apologist, but as someone who has a minimal degree of respect for history and enough of an open mind to see past a single factor as the cause of all evils confronting and hindering the Iranian people.

My suggestion to you, Amil, is to sit down with a shot of vodka and stop stressing out about Islam for five minutes.  Then, read a book.  Perhaps begin with a textbook of the history of Iran, and acquaint yourself with some of the greatest figures of our culture, some of the giants of Iranian secular identity, who were also Muslims: Mossadegh, Ibn Sina, Hafez, Amir Kabir, Karim Khan Zand, to name a few, as well as other secular politicians, scientists, poets, physicians, kings, civil rights activists... and the list goes on, including our innumerable contemporaries in Iran who would be probably be annoyed by your silly, one-dimensional diatribes.  Let no one -- including Amil Imani and the rest of the Iranicons -- forget that the majority of people in Iran, who, at the risk of defamation, imprisonment, and worse, advocate a separation of church and state, are also at least nominally Muslim.  That’s reality, no software included. Comment

Maziar Shirazi is a graduate from Rutgers University and holds a B.A. in Spanish. He is currently a medical student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, New Jersey. Features in

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