"...I, too, was born and raised in Iran. My coming-of-age years coincided with the Iranian revolution of 1979. I, too, was on the streets, watching and rooting for the demonstrators. Nothing seemed more natural, more compelling than being on the streets, calling for freedom, breathing the intoxicating, the dangerously euphoric Tehran air.I've had the pleasure of knowing and being acquainted with Iranians, and hearing colloquial Persian spoken. Having an Iranian roommate helped. I've studied history, so I am aware of the debt that civilization owes to Persian rulers like Darius the Great.
"I was 12 in 1978, yet I was as undaunted as any adult. Nothing, least of all my pleading parents, could keep me away from the rooftops at 9 p.m...."
"... I soon learned that the images of a fist-throwing mob of angry men and darkly veiled women burning the Uncle Sam effigies were the only images that most Americans had of Iran. Those images had little in common with the Iran I knew -- greater in numbers and in the grip of the same fist-throwing crowds.
"With Neda's death, the Iran I know finally has a face. The sequence of her death is the sequence of our nation's struggle in the past 30 years: The democratic future that 1979 was to deliver collapsing, then trails of blood -- that of so many executed or assassinated -- streaming across its bright promise. The film of Neda's death is the abbreviated history of contemporary Iran...."
And, I very emphatically do not agree with John Deady, Giuliani's one-time co-chairman, who said: "I don't subscribe to the principle that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. They're all Muslims." And, that "We need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people until we defeat or chase them back to their caves or, in other words, get rid of them." (December 29, 2007)
I don't know how long it will take Iran to recover from the ayatollahs. My guess is that it will be generations before the damage is undone: my fear is that it will be centuries. But, given its history, Persia - Iran - will recover and will, in time, prosper.
Iranians are Not the EnemyI think an exercise in imagination might help Americans, at least, see the Iran that Roya Hakakian knows.
Imagine that, toward the end of the Carter administration, the KKK, several militia's of the sort that encouraged Timothy McVeigh, and like-minded people took over the United States. They appointed a President-for-life, replaced the existing Constitution with a more 'American' one (by their standards), and for thirty years have been holding mandatory-attendance cross-burnings on a quite regular basis.
That didn't happen, of course, and it probably won't. One of the advantages of being a nation with an increasingly large assortment of ethnic groups and sub-cultures is that, in my opinion, it's getting harder to get enough people hating 'those people over there.'
But, in my opinion, it can be done. I think we're perilously close to defining Muslims and/or (potential) terrorists like Ron Paul supporters and American veterans as being 'un-American.'
Not all Americans are alike, and we don't necessarily follow the lead of the dominant culture. And, in my opinion, that's okay.
- "Moussavi Told to Keep Quiet Like a Loser Should"
(June 26, 2009)
- "CIA Shot Neda: Old Story, New Names"
(June 26, 2009)
- "Journalism in the Information Age, Or Nothing Says 'No' Like a Brightly Burning Motorcycle"
(June 24, 2009)
- "Neda Agha Soltan, Iran, Cell Phone Cameras, and the Information Age"
(June 23, 2009)
- "Pentagon Equates (Violent) Protest to Terrorism: Leaves Out Critical Explanation"
(June 18, 2009)
- "Homeland Security Report: American Veterans are Potential Terrorists - I am Not Making This Up"
(April 15, 2009)
- " 'America Sucks' - Binghamton, New York, Bullies, and 'Little Eichmanns' "
(April 4, 2009)
- "Sounds of Silence: 2009"
(March 31, 2009)
- "Pro-Life? You May be a Dangerous Domestic Terrorist! MIAC Says So"
A Catholic Citizen in America (March 23, 2009)
- " 'They're all Muslims' - This Does Not Help"
(December 29, 2007)
- "Commentary: Pray for Neda"
CNN (June 26, 2009)