Talking Turkey

Americans invented the atom bomb and overthrew Mossadegh, then they recorded Elvis and went to the Moon


Talking Turkey
by Ari Siletz

Every year on Thanksgiving Day I give thanks that Iran’s problems with the West are gravy compared to what the Indian chief Massasoit faced when English settlers landed at Plymouth Rock in1620. As the story goes, the newcomers were starving that first winter in America and the Indians helped them survive. The outcome was pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, leftover turkey sandwiches, and the United States of America. Also, the Native American way of life was demolished.

Massasoit was a great and wise chief. Undoubtedly he saw the threat these foreigners posed. One of his aides, a man named Squanto, had been to London and knew all about siaasat e Eengleesaa. Maybe that’s why Massasoit waited until spring to reach out to the settlers. By then only 53 of the original 102 had survived. Their ship, The Mayflower, had landed too late in the year for planting, and the English hadn’t brought enough supplies. The settlers weren’t fooling anyone trying to hide their dead as the winter took them one by one. Chief Massasoit’s spies kept good track of how many they would have to fight if hostilities broke out. In fact a clash of civilizations had happened before the official first contact. The starving newcomers tried to raid Indian corn stashes guarded by dead ancestors.

Chief Massasoit didn’t really need the land the pilgrims had settled on, because no one lived there anymore. Diseases carried by earlier European ships had wiped out most of the natives in the area. Here’s another reason for Iranians to give thanks: biological immunity. Eengleesa and Iranians live on the same Eurasian landmass and have immunities to the same diseases. When the Shirley brothers first came to the court of Shah Abbas to talk shop, 9 out of 10 Iranians didn’t drop dead. Khodaa raa shokr.

Ironically, a depleted population was the reason Massasoit needed the English. His people, the Wampanaug Indians, were sitting ducks for the less depleted enemy tribe, the Narraganssets. Massasoit figured if he made friends with the “pilgrims,” the enemy would back off. He was right. The Wampanaug tribe flourished during the fifty years of off-and-on cooperation that followed the peace treaty. War respectfully waited for the great chief to die of old age. War was also waiting for the natives to run out of trade goods the English would want. Soon after the settlers learned how to take care of themselves on the new continent, a native who needed a frying pan would have to trade land for it.

Now Massasoit could have gone to the Narragansset chief and tried to persuade him that the natives should gang up on the English, nipping these dangerous settlements in the bud. But he may as well have tried to sell the Narragansset a home insurance policy. The idea of “Native American” as a unifying identity wasn’t invented yet. The logic behind this gives another reason for Iranians to supersize their sofreh nazri on Thanksgiving. Though the two tribes lived in the same few-mile area, the Wampanaug and the Naragansset languages were only somewhat intelligible to each other. No common language means no common identity. Yet, thanks to Farsi, an Ahangar in Balkh could say “marg bar Sultan,” and a thousand miles away, a mesgar in shushtar would lose his head for it. Farsi is not just shekar; it is also glue.

Without a shared identity, it would be hard for the natives to sound a general alarm across their North American homeland. Viewing each other as separate peoples, the tribes took opposite sides in European rivalries and were ground underfoot in the dance of Western politics. This is why Native Americans now have a common expression for Thanksgiving Day. In English, they call it “The National Day of Mourning”. Finally, American natives have a national identity, their bond of unity a history of pain, their common language: English!

This is in itself a reason for giving thanks. Beautiful cultures on the verge of extinction found a way to survive, just like the pilgrims. And of course there is the side of Thanksgiving that has always been upbeat. The settlers, zealous refugees of Europe’s faith wars, turned their devotion towards building a powerful country. They had a revolution and wrote the Declaration of Independence, becoming the only country founded on the self-evidence of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One is Iranian by virtue of geography, parentage or culture. One is American by believing in the principles laid out by its founders. Americans invented the atom bomb and overthrew Mossadegh, then they recorded Elvis and went to the Moon. Also there is household electricity, modern air travel, Monopoly (the game), and Not Without My Daughter (the farce).

Last and least is television commercials. In between them we can glimpse reruns of Star Trek and wonder if intelligent life on other planets is also thankful on this day that these English-speaking explorers are just actors.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Recently by Ari SiletzCommentsDate
چرا مصدق آسوده نمی خوابد.
Aug 17, 2012
This blog makes me a plagarist
Aug 16, 2012
Double standards outside the boxing ring
Aug 12, 2012
more from Ari Siletz


by timothyfloyd on


Ari Siletz


by Ari Siletz on

1. To draw a parallel between Iranian-Americans and the pilgrims, a case has to be made that US existence is threatened by Iranian-Americans and that the US has no other options in dealing with Iran.


2. Every year during The Big Thankgiving Feast In The Sky Mossadegh raises a plaintive finger at his friend Massasoit. And every year the great chief reminds the prime minister that despite the advantage of having a sophisticated political tradition in dealing with the West Mossadegh fared no better against the storms of History.



RonPaul Iranian Fan

Iranian = Pilgrim

by RonPaul Iranian Fan on


Do you think there is merit in the notion that Iranians are akin to the Engeleesa and the United States is akin to the Wampanuag? 1.2% of Iran lives in the United States and represents roughly .35% of US. yet Iran occupies it seems 90% of US diplomatic efforts, is cause for 95% of US security anxieties, 99% of all bad US media coverage, and is mentioned together with the dreaded "T" word 100% of the time. Are Iranians really such bad colonialists?

Also, do you think chief Massasoit might have just chosen to finish off the Plymouth colony if he knew that in the centuries to come billions upon billions of turkeys would be slaughtered every year due to his kind gesture toward the pilgrims, not to mention all the coups, wars, and invasions? This is not a rant about Turkey or Human Rights. I am just wondering, do we really have Massasoit to thank for Mossadegh's overthrow?      

Ari Siletz

And a special thanks for good friends

by Ari Siletz on

Delighted to see my friends like the article.  It seems Abarmard sums it up for all of us using the word "favorite." Thanksgiving Day is also Thoughtgiving Day. 

Eraadat to all.


Very nicely observed and written.

by Princess on

Thank you! 

bajenaghe naghi

Ari jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

As usual a great piece, both entertaining and educational.

I always feel very bad about the Natives who lost everything, including their land and lives. It seems to me the the greedy English have their dirty little fingers in every pie.  No matter where or whose the pie is.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Great story

by Abarmard on

Thanks for the piece. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving. 


Happy Thanksgiving Ari

by IRANdokht on

This is by far the best Thanksgiving story I have read! The added Iranian aspect of it was brilliant.

This insightful, fluent and compassionate account of the history of the natives' "National Day of Mourning" is humorous and yet you don't feel guilty for smiling while reading about such disaster. How do you do it!



Red Wine


by Red Wine on

Intresting,lovely and very good one.

Thank you Ari jan .


Nice little slice of truth!

by sima on

Perhaps every people on earth has conflicted feelings about US. That's a glue of sorts!

BTW great little succinct observation: Farsi is not just shekar...


Dear Ari

by Esther on

I always enjoy your arts reviews, and I like this one, too!  Setareh (QoDs) is grateful for the shades (perhaps from the long shadow?) of Dr. Hamid.  Stars in her eyes is grateful for the reminder that we North Americans should be worrying about our domestic human rights issues just as much as international ones.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Darius Kadivar

Ari Jaan Yes ... But Who Invented Elvis ? ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

I mean the King ... ;0)

pictory: Elvis Presley's Pahlavi Ring


Loved your interesting and original Article !

Happy Thanksgiving !

Warm Regards,


Multiple Personality Disorder

This is brilliant

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

Thank you

Ali9 Akbar

it is rumored that when the United States Landed...

by Ali9 Akbar on

Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969 they were observed by extraterrestrials

who were waiting there on the moon and told the explorers that they needed to fix the earth first before any other earthlings will be allowed to explore any further into the solar system....


go here for any details   //