In any democracy, media outlets assume an awesome responsibility of accurately and honestly investigating, collecting, synthesizing, and reporting the news and even giving voice to opinions while adhering to high standards of journalistic ethics and responsibility. Both historical experience and current events teach us that dishonest and reckless reporting brings with it only unfortunate and disturbing consequences.
Regrettably, in the wake of recent events in Iran, certain Iranian media outlets have substituted personal attacks for honest reporting. The statements made or posted by these media not only defy common sense but more seriously constitute reckless abandonment of any sense of objectivity, decency, responsibility, or accountability. Those who assert the privilege of making public statements also must accept a heightened duty of integrity and responsibility. We must avoid making statements without first checking the facts and ensuring that our sources are reliable. Checking the facts does not mean engaging in flights of the imagination or reference to another source that has made a baseless accusatory statement.
The targets of the attacks perpetrated by these media outlets have included prominent members of our community as well as the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) and some of its members. For example, accusations in the last few weeks -- by some TV personalities and “anonymous” authors on some internet sites -- have labeled PAAIA as an agent of the Iranian government but also simultaneously pro-monarchist and on the payroll of the Israeli lobby! While such contradictory and utterly ludicrous statements are on their face completely false, they are symptomatic of a deep flaw that has plagued our public discourse for years: hurling accusations at individuals and institutions without any factual basis whatsoever, while hiding behind pen-names to avoid responsibility.
Anyone who bothers to check their facts will find that PAAIA:
1. Is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization
2. Is not in any way affiliated with, or receiving funding from, any government or political party
3. Adheres to the core principle that people everywhere, and most certainly in Iran, have the right to choose their government through free and honest elections
4. Condemns violence perpetrated against the Iranian people by security forces
5. Focuses on the welfare of Iranian Americans living in the United States
6. Aspires to be representative of all Iranian Americans, although this is a privilege and a trust that must be earned
7. Celebrates the success of Iranian Americans in all walks of life and draws attention to their achievements
8. Assists Iranian Americans in their campaigns to seek public office
9. Has established, and continues to expand, a significant network to connect together members of our community to the benefit of all
If anyone has evidence – not speculation – that PAAIA is anything but what we have described above, we invite them to step out of the shadows and make their case responsibly.
If we have political differences within our community – and we should, and doubtless will, have honest differences – we must discuss them reasonably and responsibly, and in a respectful tone. There should be no place or tolerance for petty mud-slinging and yellow journalism. If we do not act responsibly, we will continue to tear apart our community and to sow the seeds of mistrust. And where there is mistrust, a community will be powerless because it cannot collectively advance its common interests. PAAIA was created precisely to take our community in the direction of unity, dialogue and mutual respect. We invite all to join us in this endeavor.
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