Not funny

McCain’s insensitive Iran remark


Not funny
by Babak Talebi

Washington, DC (NIAC) - Presidential candidate Senator John McCain, in response to a question about a survey showing increased U.S. exports to Iran -- mostly of cigarettes -- replied by saying, "Maybe that's a way of killing them." Despite his initial backpedaling by saying "I meant that as a joke," Senator McCain's comment is unacceptable and very troubling for the Iranian-American community.

As one of the most well-educated and affluent immigrant populations in the United States, the Iranian-American community is proud of its contributions to American culture. Unfortunately, Senator McCain overlooked this attribute when he made this statement, and NIAC has expressed its concerns through a letter sent to the McCain campaign Wednesday.

This is Senator McCain's second inflammatory and insensitive comment about Iran during the campaign (his last comment used the theme of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann" to sing "Bomb, Bomb Iran"). Many people feel his comments undermine the need for fresh thinking to resolve the current conflict with Iran, and risk alienating his Iranian-American supporters within the Republican Party.

"With rising tensions and talk of war between the U.S. and Iran, what we need is constructive, not destructive, dialogue from the candidates -- dialogue that differentiates between the people and the policies of the Iranian government," said Reza Firouzbakht, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Iranian American Council.

Despite Senator McCain's long and distinguished career in public service and the support he currently has within our community, his comment yesterday is being viewed as careless and insensitive, with the potential to strongly jeopardize the support from those who wish to vote for him in November.

"We hope, through an apology for these unfortunate remarks, the Senator can clearly demonstrate his respect for Americans of Iranian descent and repair the damage done in the eyes of our community," said Trita Parsi, NIAC President.

Below is a copy of a letter NIAC sent to Senator McCain's campaign headquarters expressing concerns about his comment and requesting an apology on behalf of all Iranian Americans.


Dear Senator McCain,

The Iranian-American community is disappointed and disturbed by your comment yesterday about US exports of cigarettes to Iran as "a way of killing" Iranians.

This statement was insensitive, callous, and counterproductive. We are proud Americans, and grateful for the blessings of liberty and democracy not available in our country of origin. Our community is also proud of its Iranian heritage, and deeply protective of our family, culture, and traditions; we hope that you hold us in higher regard than your comments seem to indicate.

Your remark yesterday recalls a previous campaign event in 2007 in which you sang "Bomb, Bomb Iran." For the second time during this Presidential election, you made the unfortunate choice to disparage people of Iranian descent, which is a fact that one million Iranian Americans find unacceptable.

Members of our community have historically been strong supporters of the Republican Party. Your statements have had the unintended effect of alienating the Iranian-American community from your party and putting in jeopardy Iranian-American support for your campaign.

While our community overwhelmingly opposes the government in Iran, we strongly oppose a military confrontation between the two countries and believe the current state of US-Iran relations requires an intelligent and constructive dialogue, which your comment directly undermined.

We know that as a decorated military hero, you would not unnecessarily bring our service men and women in harm's way. We hope you will reconsider making light of the current tensions with Iran and instead take the lead to secure a peaceful resolution to the US-Iran standoff.

Finally, we ask you to apologize for your unfortunate remarks, and to acknowledge the valuable contribution the Iranian-American community makes to American society. As you know, Iranians tend to be the most pro-American population in the Middle East. Our policy cannot be to alienate the people of Iran, with whom America has no and should have no enmity.

We hope, through this gesture, you can clearly demonstrate your respect for Americans of Iranian descent and repair the damage done in the eyes of Iranian Americans by your recent comment.

Thank you.


Dr. Trita Parsi, President

National Iranian American Council


Babak Talebi is Director of Community Relations at NIAC.


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McCain Joke

by Armine (not verified) on

Stupid McCain, we make our own ciggerettes.


I concede to many points. 

by American Wife (not verified) on

I concede to many points.  I just hope the younger generation does a better job than we did.  Many of the 60's and 70's became disillusioned... as will this generation too, I'm sure.  We became addicted to the opiate of money... hey, an idea!  Let's all go back to smoking  It was a heck of a lot better for you and definitely more fun...LOL.

Oh, for the days when we could discuss diversive political issues without the anger and name-calling.  It was a time of rejoicing in cultural differences instead of being afraid of them.  What happened to us... Americans?  We survived so many obstacles and made so much progress (and don't think for a second I'm forgetting or dismissing our own internal evils of racism and bigotry) and had so many opportunites to truly be a world power.  The opportunity to actually help people has been overshadowed by our arrogance and ignorance.  I'm proud to be American and wouldn't live anywhere else but sometimes I feel like we've abused that priviledge... to ourselves more than anyone else.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".

programmer craig

American Wife

by programmer craig on

I must have regressed to my bong-hitting, tie-dyed college days cause I
sure don't remember saying a damn thing about Marxism.  My point was...
and IS...that college kids today are far more aware of political and
social issues than you give them credit for. 

Just like they were in the 1960s. And in the 1970s. I guess teh word "aware" is pretty subjective, right?

I don't think we are disagreeing. At least, i can't see where we are. It's just that you think this "hyper-awareness" is a good thing, and I do not. But I do think this overrl dramatic and fervently idealistic approcah young adults (whther in college or not) take towards issues is in fact based on very shallow perceptions. Most young adults (in the US at least) are primarily interested in seeming cool, meeting girls (or guys), making money, etc. A few are different, but most just go along with the herd mentality and the group think. Even when they are utterly convinced they are doing the exact opposite, as you know doubt weer in your bong-hitting days. I remember those days too :)

For every true-believing hippy, there were 10 who just wanted to have a good time and get laid, and drop out of school while pretending they were being noble, instead of lazy. Right?

My son is in school now
too after serving in the Marine Corp.  Big whoo.  His views were
disgustingly distorted while in the Corp and I'm glad as hell he's
out.  It served a purpose, I guess. He was force-fed propagandist
bullshit... and yes, I say it again, PROPAGANDIST BULLSHIT. 

Of course he was. It's called "indoctrination". The Marine Corps couldn't function if it just handed out rifles to random guys off the street and sent them into battle. They need fanatics.

Did your son not know this, before he joined? He did volunteer, didn't he? Speaking personally, I was well aware of the reputation the USMC had before I joined. And it is the main reason why I did so. I would be surprised if your son was different.

Don't worry, by the wya. It wears off. Most of it :)

My point is simply that I believe you are being too dismissive of the current college-age generation. 

That's not my intent. I have several family members in college right now, and I don't think any less of them than I do of any other generation of young adults. I'm just objecting to this tendency we (Americans) have always had of proclaiming each generation to be the best and the brightest, while dmaning those who came before them. What's the point of all that? Are they really so great? Were we raelly so bad? And what about when this generation has kids in college... the whole cycle repeats again? lol.

No, I don't mean to run young people down. But I don't mean to run old people down either, eh? Everyone's views should be treated with respect - if worthy of respect.




by American Wife (not verified) on

a smiling Sen. McCain says, "My
friends, in these trying times in which we live, there's one thing all
Americans can agree on: killing Iranians is hilarious."

Are you referring to the website in Andy Horowitz's article?  This is the second time I've seen you make reference to it.  Are you not aware this was a satiral piece?  There is no website listing 10 ways to hate Iranians... or whatever it's called.  If I am mistaken, please send me the link.




by American Wife (not verified) on

Say what? 

I must have regressed to my bong-hitting, tie-dyed college days cause I sure don't remember saying a damn thing about Marxism.  My point was... and IS...that college kids today are far more aware of political and social issues than you give them credit for.  My son is in school now too after serving in the Marine Corp.  Big whoo.  His views were disgustingly distorted while in the Corp and I'm glad as hell he's out.  It served a purpose, I guess. He was force-fed propagandist bullshit... and yes, I say it again, PROPAGANDIST BULLSHIT.  Don't get me wrong... I fully support the military in general.  It's a necessary evil.  But, and this is NOT a party-specific criticism, government has never supported it's men and women in the military... before, during or after.  Now, I'm not getting into a long-ass discussion about this and am sorry I've gone on about it as much as I have.

My point is simply that I believe you are being too dismissive of the current college-age generation. 

That's all.

programmer craig

American Wife

by programmer craig on

Zac.... don't listen to PC.  He must be talking about HIS college days.

I was in the Marines during my "college days" lol.

I didn't start college until after I got out, when I was about 26. Maybe it takes an "outsider" to see what's really going on with college students? But, I don't think so. I just think you aren't being realistic. Do you really think that the only place in the US one can find support for Marxism and other fringe causes is on college campus's is because college students have thought things through better than older Americans? Well, those older Americans were yesterday's marxists... so what happened?




Zac.... don't listen to

by American Wife (not verified) on

Zac.... don't listen to PC.  He must be talking about HIS college days.  I've got a couple nieces and nephews in college right now and I can assure everyone that they are FAR more astute, knowledgeable AND aware of current political and economic issues.  As in the 60's and 70's it will be the younger generation who makes real changes instead of sitting on their ass doing nothing but argue online.  He's right about one thing... you're facing difficult times.  I wouldn't call it pain and misery.  I'd consider it satisfaction that you're making a difference. 

Good luck to you

programmer craig


by programmer craig on

I'm a student at Washington State University and like the majority of college students in America...

You should have stopped right there! What the majority of college students "think" is nothing more than a mish-mash of where their teenage angst, their resentemnets against their parents, and the political opinions of their professors take them. There's nothing WRONG with that. Except in the rare case where college age students find themselves at the center of a social upheaval. Like what happened in the US in the late 1960s. or in Iran in the late 1970s. And when that happens, stand the hell by because there's a lot of pain and misery coming your way. The rest of the time, it's in everyone's interests to indulge college students until their opinions mature. That's part of the reason college exists in the first place. It isn't all about education, you know.

As for McCain... he bothers me a lot. And not just because of his "loose cannon" tongue. But I'm still going to vote for him, because Obama bothers me more. I'm not happy at all about the candidates in this year's election.

K Nassery

If you don't vote...don't complain...

by K Nassery on

I think McCain was wrong to make this joke and the bomb, bomb, bomb Iran joke.  This kind of thing is not helpful. 

I would like the Iranian mobs to stop yelling, "Death to America."  I find it offensive too.

Everyone needs to be respectful of others.  Even others..that we can't stand.  That's might not make sense...but that's what came to my mind.


Abarmard: What you can't

by my2cents1 (not verified) on

Abarmard: What you can't wrap your head around is very simple. Not all Iranians ex-pats view NIAC as a non-partisan entity as you do.

NIAC and you support reform from within and you want to impose your values on others. However, if you took a poll of all Iranians abroad (US and Europe), most of them will not agree with you. Most Iranians think that this regime is not reformable. Also, most Iranians abroad believe that a war against Iran by the US or Israel will only benefit the Islamic Republic. So, please stop calling those who don't subscribe to your solution, warmongers or pro-war.

You only alienate more people by calling them names.


American government does not represent the people

by Zac (not verified) on

My first response to this article is for the Iranian people not to worry, there is no way the American public will vote John McCain into office. I'm a student at Washington State University and like the majority of college students in America... know the government no longer represents the people. We know corporations run our country and elect our presidents, not its citizens.

My hope is that we all look at the propaganda our governments show us to try to make us hate each other with skepticism. I feel like our governments try to make us hate each other, so we will support all of their stupid policies. Me and my friends believe if our youth had more social interaction with each other, we would both realize that we are the same... searching for peace and better way of life for our children. We don't want war or hate, thats only what our regimes want.

To all of the Iranian citizens who read this I extend my apologizes for the ignorant statement by John McCain. He does not represent the views of the American public. Lets get past the lies our countries tell about each other and make the world a better place. Can we be friends?


Az dast e azizan che beguyam geleyee nist...

by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

I write this because I love the song. Not because of creatures as that barking individual, who is not listed with my other azizans. I see in him a lost creature and the apolitician americans have not earned a better President. However they seem to have learned a bit during the last 30 years. In that time was the Islamic republic of Iran founded and is getting day by day even stronger, even mightie and Iranians living in Iran happier. Greeting



by Abarmard on

Really sad!

Az dast e azizan che beguyam geleyee nist...

Most Iranians are black and white. Surprisingly I realized that many people inside Iran are somehow similar also. i wish for us to learn civility!

many Iranians are so proud of an Iran that they never have been part of or know much about, the Cyrus the Great era. They don't realize what Iran is today or even thousands years back. Any ways, I guess it doesn't matter.


the Tehrangelesi mind

by Q on


One of the problems we have in this community is that a particular set of vocal Iranians who matured in the Iranian "politics" (if it can be called that) of that late 70's, have a mind that is set on binary terms and there's no way around it.

It's all good/evil, black/white for them. So when now, after 30 years, they are just beginning to scratch the surface of American politics, they have naturally adopted the left/right, democrat/republican polarities they now think they understand American politics.

For example many of them are surprised to know that AIPAC actually has more influence in the Democratic party. And that both Democrats and Republican administrations supported the disasterous Vietnam war. Zionists merely sound binary as a matter of rhetorical strategy at a given time. But Tehrangelesi's actually think in binary terms.

Now, they think they "understand" NIAC as a "left" force fighting against "right" and Republicans. That is really short-sighted. Not only has NIAC not taken a political side, they have supported many Republican candidates in the past. Trita Parsi himself used to work for a Republican and his own PhD advisor was a right wing free marketeer.

Unfortunately the Tehrangelesi mind has not learned the concept of nuance yet. If you bring up any uncomfortable details challenging a binary world view, it's either "deceit" or "you are defending IRI". They don't know how to deal with it.

This is perceisely why you and I and NIAC are "IRI terrorists" for being antiwar. Don't try to explain it. They are not ready.


The only way to stop

by my2cents1 (not verified) on

The only way to stop aggression against Iranian people is to be unified together

Please elaborate. Do you mean we should write bellicose letters to Republicans everyday and demand their respect??? You sound like another bully. Americans don't like bullies. You want McCain to apologize to you by disrespecting him??? What planet do you live in??? Is that your way getting things done??? I have news for you, Americans don't like bullies; especially Republicans.

How are we going to prevent a war against Iran? By disrespecting their war hero?? McCain is not my war hero either, however, he is a war hero and a prisoner of war for most Americans (democrats and rebpublicans)

Making more enemies is not the way to help Iranians or prevent a war against Iran.



by Abarmard on

It won't happen. Regardless of the "NIAC" action, the issues are much deeper than you think. We need to stand strong and unified, simple as that. Rest is a dream. There are a systematic ways to make Iran and Iranians demonized. Don't think for one second that the reports from Fox or similar channels are just innocent reporting. It's not. How long have you lived in this country? How many Coups have you witness by the CIA? How many wars have you seen started and supported by the USA? How many people have become evil and bombed to nothing in the last century?

You should know better. There is internet available these days.

This doesn't mean that Iran is right and US is bad. All it means is that the politics are more complicated and plans don't change because NIAC says one thing or another... truth is out there!

NIAC has done nothing wrong and McCain, war hero or not, is wrong in this issue and needs to bend his head and apologize to all of us. He is your war hero not mine.

The only way to stop aggression against Iranian people is to be unified together. Nothing could be simpler than this, yet it seems unreachable at times! 


my2centsone: I don't watch

by my2cents1 (not verified) on

my2centsone: I don't watch Iranian TV and Have no idea what you're talking about...I'm sure there are Iranians who are much wiser and can handle things through tact and winning their hearts rather than disrespecting a War Hero like McCain. Disrespecting and name calling Republicans will not solve any of our problems. NIAC could have written a much more respectful letter and they also could have invited him to discuss their sides. We want the Republicans to feel empathy and sympathy toward the Iranian people not animosity and more hatred...We don't need to demonize ourselves more than we already are.


Mr. Farhad Kashani

by Abarmard on

You and Zion both. Good for you.

Farhad Kashani

NIAC is in no way, shape or

by Farhad Kashani on

NIAC is in no way, shape or form, a spokesman for the Iranian-American community. NIAC has lost its way. We condemn the pro IRI stance the NIAC takes.



by Abarmard on

I condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran for crimes against the Iranian people. Happy? what does that do for you or I?

Dear friend, if you are not aware or understand the position and the work of NIAC the information is vastly available and the many of the hard working people are also willing to answer any questions that you have.

You like to blame and put label for the purpose of?

Maybe when we realize something works, instead of breaking it, help it, we wouldn't be here.

We have done your style of strategy for the past 30 years and got what we have today. What is it that holds you back so much for something new and different, such as unity!

You want to say that NIAC is IR base? Prove it.

Are you a member of any Human Rights Organizations? If yes, send this kind of news through those channels to NIAC. Let's make this an issue. What's holding you back? Don't yawn freedom and only complain. Give the NIAC a chance to prove to you that they are on your side. Are you afraid?

By the way, many Iranians are not involved in any Human Rights and Woman Rights organizations. We must get in to them. Changing our normal historical behavior is the only way we will get results. We have to do it not the US and not Israel.

Maybe one day we can tell our children proudly what we had done to help Iran or to free Iran, rather than tell them that we waited for the United States to bomb Iran so the regime could become weak and Mullahs run and we all along with Googoosh go back to a democratic Iran!

Wake up.


The Day 600,000 Would line up behind NIAC!!

by Anonymous500 (not verified) on

Dearm on buddy, dearm on!! The day when 600,000 Iranians would line up behind your NIAC is the day when the Hell has forzen over several times. You guys can't bring 50 people together at a time that the PMOI is capable of bringing together close to 70,000 Iranians in Paris, France, in spite of the fact that it is still under theat criminally attributed "Terrorist" designation and you are dreaming of 600,000 honorable men and women coming behind your NIAC? Can you explain the differences between the two?

You guys have never, ever, condmned any of the nuerous crimes of the IRI against our people. If you got the balls, Mr. Abarmad (Superman!!), condmn the lates of the IRI crimes against our people as the following nes items attest to:

رژیم آخوندی شماری از دانشجویان را در تهران، مشهد و زنجان دستگیر كرده است.
خبرنامه دانشجویی امیركبیر نوشت: با بازداشت 4دانشجو در مشهد، ۳ دانشجو در تهران و ۳ دانشجو در زنجان تعداد دانشجویان بازداشت شده طی روزهای گذشته به ۲۰ نفر رسیده است. بازداشت های گسترده دانشجویان طی هفته جاری در شهرهای مختلف کشور در حالی ادامه دارد که از وضعیت و محل نگهداری این دانشجویان اطلاعی در دسترس نیست و خانواده های این دانشجویان در نگرانی به سر می برند.
این منبع افزود: نیروهای امنیتی پس از بازداشت این دانشجویان، منازل آنها را تفتیش کرده و برخی از وسایل مربوط به این دانشجویان را ضبط کرد.


Lastly: RE: NIAC, however,...my2cents1

by Abarmard on

The Iranians you are looking for are in Channel one, Apadana, IranTV, AzadTV, Tapesh, PEN, PEN Plus....Should I name more?

Go write to them and good luck in your path to free Iran! (Unless you were joking)

PS. I wonder why Reza (Shah-son) has not make an appearance to stand for something in these rough times. Where is he when one needs a hand. Kind of gives you the truth about him. Too bad, he could have been...he could have.



by Abarmard on

Regardless of what Iran does or has done, when you as a super power of the modern world joke about KILLING IRANIANS, one should be aware and become worried. Hitler "joked" about Jews. Jokes that have KILLING in them are not funny.

One can put in to prespective that it was not Iranian nation who has hurt the American population and the system of government, but the other way around. Unless you can clearly declare that the Americans in regard to the Iranians, today and historically have been the victoms!!

Think about it and don't just try to justify a wrong with...well anything. It's wrong.



by Abarmard on

I disagree. If Iranians are lined behind NIAC, that's a power of over 600,000 Iranians. Quiet nice size for any candidate to want them on their side. This is what politics is all about, not the other way around.


NIAC, however,

by my2cents1 (not verified) on

NIAC, however, well-intentioned is run by a group of smart, young and sometimes overzealous individuals who sometimes act on their testosterone rather than wisdom and long-term visions.

Where are the adults (+50) in the Iranian-American community?


Regrettably, Here is how

by my2cents1 (not verified) on

Regrettably, Here is how American/Republicans/Independents view the Isalmic Republic; hence, Iranians:

Now... lets put this Khomeinist propaganda into perspective.

1) This regime broke all international laws, raided our embassy - an act of war - and held American hostages 444 days.

2) They're enriching uranium, developing a nuclear bomb.

3) They've lied repeatedly to Europe and the UN, the world.

4) They supported terrorist Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria murdering innocent Lebanese and Israeli citizens for decades.

5) They supported asassinations around the world, including bombings of Jews, Americans, their own people from Europe to Israel, Argentina and Lebanon.

6) They committed an act of war against the UK kidnapping their soldiers

7) They've committed an act of war against American troops and Iraqi troops and sponsored the murder of more innocent civilians in Iraq.

This is how they view the Islamic Republic and hence the Iranian people.

If you want this view to change in the US, you should try to educate the Repbulicans; especially the rightwing of the GOP who are the most influential to distinguiseh between Iranians and the Islamic Republic. And you can only do that by educating them and becoming their friends not their enemies.

Our strategy should be different than the American democrats who view the Republicans as their enemy. The worst that can happen to American democrats is that they will lose the election and have to wait for more 4 years. However, the Iranian and the Iranian-Americans don't have the same luxry. Making Republicans your enemy will result in the death of your nation. Think about that...please

We don't need more anti-Iranian sentiments in this country. We have to live here for the rest of our lives...Let us be instrument of peace among all parties and all people.

Educate your republican friends and make peace with them instead of calling them names. They make up more than half of this country. Republicans are not monsters that you have made them out to be.


So NIAC has self-appointed

by Anonymousanonymouse (not verified) on

So NIAC has self-appointed itself to take on the Republican party on our behalf. Here is McCain's response to you NIAC. NIAC has become an instrument of division instead of unity in the larger American nation.

Iranian-Americans will not benefit from making the GOP their enemy. We simply can't afford to have the Republicans in this country against Iranian-Americans.

With friends like NIAC who needs enemies. Stop issuing dergatory fatwas against a US Senator on our behalf. You disrespected the Senator and you expect to get result???NIAC does not understand real America or Americans...NIAC is adding more fuel to the fire of anti-Iranian sentiments in the US. Please stop. Educate McCain/Republicans instead of bullying a war hero.

McCain Issues Top Ten Funniest Ways to Kill Iranians


The list ends with what Sen. McCain dubs the number one funniest way to kill Iranians: "Vote for me." You think he is joking??? I don't think so.

Does NIAC ever think about the consequences of its reckless actions on behalf of all of us???


Shame shame shame

by Anonymous on

Can anyone call themselves Iranian-American, even consider voting for this guy? What a moron. Any other group in U.S would have already taken this to court not for the pure racist message it conveys but for the hatered it preaches. But not us I guess.

If you draw a swastika on a wall in U.S you can go to jail, yet a presidentail nominee is singing "bomb bomb bomb Iran" song and now this.

Shame on McCain
Shame on the media for not zeroing in on McCain for the racist pig he is
Shame on us, for remaining quiet.


It WAS funny!

by Tugger on

Iran is supplying and training Iraqi militants to kill US soldiers. Iran is in a real standoff with the west regarding their nuclear program. The threat is of real military conflict.

The idea that the US would be exporting cigarettes as a military tactic is ridiculous and funny.

It was never meant to insult Iranian or Persian people. He said it was a joke and that is all it was.



Kudos to NIAC!!!!!!

by Elika (not verified) on

Kudos to NIAC for showing leadership and daring to take on these people!! Where are all other Iranian-American organizations? We are all the neo-con Iranian Shahis and Mujaheds? You should explain why your war hero is joking about killing Iranians and why you oppose NIAC's protests!