Just a t-shirt

We better be prepared to examine our own past, too


 Just a t-shirt
by PedramMoallemian

Every Martin Luther King Day over the last few years, plus as many days as possible during February (Black History Month,) I have been wearing the shirt above and this year was no exception. Mine is actually black, in some ways more fitting, but I wish I had seen the version above in wine-red first.

I bought it from the wonderful people at UrbanProfile.com, who also offer a wide range of other African-American themed t-shirts. For the inauguration this year, you could have worn a shirt with the map of U.S.A. stamped “Under New Management” for example.

This particular shirt gets some of the strangest looks, not to mention some interesting reactions. This morning while lying down on my chiropractor’s adjustment bed, I noticed him reading the back out loud. He later insisted on reading the front before discussing my ever ongoing need for additional treatment.

Last year, while having breakfast out, a woman behind me couldn’t even wait that long and tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I could turn around for her to see the front!

What is on the back is a 1966 quote from writer James Baldwin. It reads;

"America has created a state of mood, which is dangerous for the world. In order to buy and sell men like cattle one had to pretend they were cattle. Being Christian knowing it was wrong; they had to pretend it was not done to men but to animals. What has happened is that America, which use to buy and sell black men, still isn’t sure if they are animals or not."

But the most interesting reactions are usually drawn to the front, be it a supermarket cashier trying to read while avoiding my eyes, an African-American mother with kids being shocked first, then slowly realizing the point and looking up at me proudly and finally a young white dude that wanted to fight me, as he found it offensive.

Front of the shirt has a copy of an advertisement from Charlestown, carrying a date of July 24th, 1769. The text reads:


I don’t wear the shirt to shock people. I wear it as a reminder. And it’s not just a reminder of look what YOU have done; it’s something we need to remember that many of us have also. For it, still goes on today, in many parts of the world, in many different forms.

Yes, as a nation, the United States needs to be held responsible for many atrocities, including its near annihilation of the first-nations, organized and sanctioned slavery of millions, multiple wars and military campaigns around the globe causing lives, economic catastrophe, famine, disease, and theft of other nation’ resources by force or deceit.

But if we start to hold such high standards, we better be prepared to look in the mirror to examine our own past, review our current conduct and keep an eye on the future.


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Mutiny 1979

by Damon Jaan (not verified) on

Although, Colonel Haghzadeh wasn't born to a noble family he had earned his rank through his performance in Viet Nam, Oman, and Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraq. And although, he had a full battalion of Takavaran(a commando corps, which he himself had been) under his command Haghzadeh was a modest man.

Politically Haghzadeh was okay with foreign troops present on Iranian soil, stating that if Iran had aligned itself with a stronger military power during the 'Great Game' that things would've turned out more for Iran's favor, and that these military advisors were essential given the current situation with the Soviet Union and its support of communist expansion. More so being a good Officer, he was always supportive of the Shah ( the commander ) and was a Hafez of the Iranian Constitution.

Religiously, Haghzadeh was of the Shia sect of Islam, and observed and respected the Holy days as well as paying his respect to Mullahs (Shia clergy).

In July Haghzadeh was asigned by the Command to infiltrate several vallies in Iranian Kurdistan to suppress a communist uprising by the locals. Haghzadeh had drawn up a plan and sent it to Tehran. He stated that an overall objective could be reached within 6 months. The Commanding Officers in Tehran cursed Haghzadeh and stated that he wasn't to stay and support "peace operations" and "educating the locals" and that he was to return to his Hamadan base immediately following the destruction (killing) of the "communist rebels and their immediate supporters", and await further orders. Although, Haghzadeh was upset he followed his orders precisely.

After returning to Hamadan Air/Ground base in December, Haghzadeh reported the actions in Iranian Kurdistan to the detail. Politically, aware Haghzadeh knew that his response was not recieved because of the turmoil in the current Iranian Governmet. Unsure he to turn to, he turned to his immediate Commanding Officer, to no avail he had already left the country.

Haghzadeh's troops were enormously loyal to his command, and Haghzadeh knew that in any circumstance that he could call upon them in order to enforce the Iranian Constitution. With this in mind he left his base at Hamadan (AWOL) for Teheran, with a very diplomatic approach in mind.

Upon arriving in the capital he quickly realized that it was in utter anarchy. Communists, Religious, Iranian (Shahi) forces were in continuous battle. He booked a room at the Teheran Hyatt and began to re-think his engagement.

Upon awaking the next day and hearing the news via radio Haghzadeh was aware of the Ayatollah Khomeini( high ranking Shia mullah) had returned to Teheran. Within minutes a knock came on the door, and as he opened it a G-3 assault rifle was placed next to his face and he was told to exit.

Haghzadeh was immediately taken to a basement in a local Mosque. There the young vigilantes read him his crimes. Included were support of a dictator, support of Imperialists,and killing Iranians. Haghzadeh, stood up and yelled at the vigilantes for even claiming such nonsense. He, was beaten and humiliated by various means untill he complied with their orders. (Being a Takavar this took extremely severe measures)

For some reason Haghzadeh still believed in Iran, and that once he argued against his 'illegal' arrest and for the Constitution of Iran he would be released and returned to his unit.(even given the present circumstance).

Since Sharia law and a (revolutionary) Islamic Constitution had not yet been in placed. The captors decided to kill the Colonel rather than restrain (jail) him.

The history of Colonel Haghzadeh's unit is great, they preformed meticaluously. However, upon his death it is believed that this unit, ceased to exsist.


More fitting messages for you

by Zion on

I'd say you had better wear T-shirts with this kind of messages instead on back and front:






Much more relevant to you and your background. You know, as a reminder and all that.


to Payam

by Damon Jaan (not verified) on

so your using the U.S. population stance against policies as a tool against the U.S.??? Yes, you are correct in the US alot of blood has been spilled however, this was not because of Washington rather than the lack of Washington overseeing what was going on. How many Iranian,Chinese can you reference that died and their government changed policies?

Unfortunately, few countries can claim a better human rights record than that of the US so while I support your right to stand out and above the crowd while the mob rules, even you who seem so anti-Americana and capitalism, must understand that in most countries you'd be hanged for going against the power.

Even the most backward redneck knows about the Native American atrocity and the slave trade. So what are you suggesting???? Please do tell...
Furthermore, NO he is not reminding us of what WE THE PEOPLE did wrong but he is reminding us of what we people did wrong. Even though this practice was not promininent to my ancient ancestors it was to my more recent ancestors. But other than remind Blacks of their inherited dehumanization it doesnt do much more. So if your gonna wear such a shirt which this topic was about to begin with, you might as well be a facist.


I actually liked it!

by Payam S (not verified) on

Every one claims that Pedram should be thankful of the liberty he has been provided by the United States and that he should acknowledge that instead of picking at the imperfections of this 'great' country. I'm sorry but this argument is in fact ignorant. It conviniently disregards the history of this country, the sacrifices of the people, the shedding of worker's bloods, the lynchings of run-away slaves, the suppression of women, the genocides carried out inside and outside this country.

How do you think Pedram got the right to wear this shirt in the first place. Cause your 'dear leaders' decided upon it. NO. Six workers were hanged in public in Haymarket in Chicago, I believe in 1884. What were they fighting for? 8 hours a day. This is only one example of how people win their rights.

I fact, US has a very bloody history. Those people who lost their lives to the fascistic capitalist system of the US government are the ones who provided us with these rights. Pedram is in reality thanking them for their sacrifices and reminding us about the sacrifices they made. If we disregard the history of this country and ignore the fact that the people sacrificed and lost their lives in great numbers for the rights that we have today, we can never progress. If we forget where our rights came from we will always be looking upto the master to break our shackles. This is in reality backwardness.

There is still slavery going on in all parts of the world. Take a look at the global 'labor market' and how human beings have become commodities in the capitalist markets just to be bought and sold.

Take a look at this country, where racism still exists and religious fanaticism has become a dominant force in politics. This is fascism, only with a milder taste.



Pedram: You better examine

by ... (not verified) on

Pedram: You better examine your ungratefulness. You seem to be motivated by revenge not caring much about Blacks.

Hate is a coward's reaction to humiliation!--Martin Luther King

Kaveh Nouraee


by Kaveh Nouraee on

The choice of wardrobe is unusual and unorthodox, given today's climate of social and political correctness, and even though I abhor "PC", I probably wouldn't wear a shirt like that.

I also wouldn't use what were clearly wrong, yet accepted practices of another period of time to make a point concerning the present day, however valid it may be.

You and I and every other foreigner are here because we have it better here than we would back home, be it in Iran, or anywhere else. No country is perfect. Show me one that is, I'll prove to you that it's a Utopian fantasy that will never be realized.

Even those very slaves advertised on your t-shirt knew that. When they were freed, the majority of them stayed right here in the U.S.

And do you know why?

Because they were sold into slavery by their very own countrymen!

I'm sure you've heard the expression "Freedom Isn't Free". Rather than trying to find fault with how the U.S. conducts itself policy-wise, try showing gratitude for the fact that you're here, living free and protected because of those policies.

Our inalienable rights are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", not "taking without giving back and then complaining about what we have taken".


Blatant disregard...

by Damon Jaan (not verified) on

Although, thanks to the Constitution you are able to say what you want, many would argue that you have the right to wear the shirt under the same law. But what exactly gives you the right to wear a shirt describing the inhumane treatment of Africans in the early developement of the United States? Yes, slavery was practiced throughout the world, (although not in Persia prior to the Islamization of the Parsis.) The term slave actually comes from Slav, which were captured and taken to Anatolia as slaves.

Can't you obviously see that it could hurt people's feelings to be out shopping and suddenly boom the foreigners got a shirt on reminding them of that injustice? The whole idea that you would wear such an ugly and bad example of Black history around MLK day is just ignorant. How about wearing a shirt that promotes Black people's accomplishments instead? Did you ever wonder how,why,or wow that the Northern and even SOUTHERN United States abolished slavery over a hundred years before the Saudis, Eritereans, etc... I am hoping your rather young, (12) or under because if this is your idea of attention getting activism than...


Anti-Americanism Is Itself a Bias!

by ganselmi on

"Yes, as a nation, the United States needs to be held responsible for many atrocities, including its near annihilation of the first-nations, organized and sanctioned slavery of millions, multiple wars and military campaigns around the globe causing lives, economic catastrophe, famine, disease, and theft of other nation’ resources by force or deceit."

Pedram, the United States is certainly neither flawless nor faultless, but as a fellow Iranian-American, it saddens me that you only highlight America's alleged or real flaws and crimes. Whether we like it or not, the US has historically been a force for good in the world. Otherwise, its values and way of life would not continue to inspire millions to seek the US as their new home.

Moreover, some of the very aspects of the US's global presence that many around the world condemn actually serve to make most of the planet relatively stable and secure. For example, it is precisely the US's massive military, its vigilant carriers, and even its ICBMs - all those elements of the US's superpower status - that allow many other nations to develop their economies, educate their children, and expand culture/arts/etc. without having to worry about their fundamental safety.

Again, none of this is to say that the US is or has been perfect, but it's profoundly unjust of you to apply a moral judgement to its entire history from the standpoint of today's values. This form of cheap moralism is, in fact, at the heart of most anti-Americanisms.