Iranian-Americans are once again the Scapegoat; why?
by Pirouz Azadi
Sun 27th Dec 2015
Dear Mr. President Obama and my American Patriates,
We reaffirm our commitment to the principled American ideals of equal opportunity, due process, and the transparent application of the rule of law and blind justice afforded to all citizens irrespective of one’s national origin, presumed religion, creed, ethnicity, or gender. I submit this note specifically to YOU to take appropriate action to ameliorate the adverse ramifications of certain aspects of HR158:
Against the backdrop of some of the most tumultuous time in our short U.S. history, I also write to express not only my humble words of gratitude to visionaries as Fareed Zakaria and Bernie Sanders and alike but also to reflect on the same collective sentiments for their consciousness expressions of concerns. As heartily felt by the millions of patriotic Americans for the strong ethical-moral based article by Fareed Zakaraia in 12 December’s Washington Post, as well as the interview segments on CNN’s GPS on the plight of refugees, Donald Trump’s megalomaniac demagoguery, the HR 158 and the adverse ramifications it yields, will certainly impact the safety, security, and equal opportunities of millions of Americans with ‘Middle Eastern’ ancestry.
Like Fareed, my family are staunch believers and supporters of an expedited refugee-review policies and temporary visas (tourism, business, fiancé, etc.), which are anchored on ensuring the safety and security of the nation, and not based on a blanket rejection policy. What we, unequivocally, object to, and in fact, deplore, is the absurd notion of granting moral authority to those Eurocentric immigrants (Trump et al in point) who have arrived in the United States a mere couple of generations earlier than us, or an over-arching and zealot blanket profiling against those suspected to be ‘Muslim.’ Such politically divisive rhetoric by the ultra-rights, be it in the U.S. today, Germany against the Germans whose religion was Judaism in the 30’ and 40’s, or the slavery era and the criminally inhumane KKK, is to be condemned vehemently; otherwise, this will only lead to hastily enacted legislations as HR 158 that is anathema to the very principles on which this great nation has been founded.
The most inspiring quote from Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty encapsulates our nation’s vision:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
The overwhelming majority of immigrants and refugees from the so-called ‘Middle East’-as typified by the nearly one million affluent, law abiding and immensely contributing Iranian-Americans-not only bring with them their “tired” but also advanced education, which is triple the U.S. national average, and each with hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital from their country of birth. What is most excruciatingly ironic is that the nationals of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who have been committing the highest number, and most recent in San Bernardino, of heinous terrorist acts including those of September 11, 2001, have not been the recipients of blanket visa restrictions on their nationals, as it is now hastily called for uninvolved Iranians and three terrorism imbroglioed nationals. Instead, the politicians paid by the lobbyists who serve foreign countries with ulterior motives (read Saudi Arabia and Israel), go after the ordinary citizens of Iran-already between a repressive rock from inside and a hard place in the form of restrictive sanctions form outside-to use them as scapegoats like the “Orphans slapped by any bully on the block.” Ironically, after the humiliating defeat of the Israeli and Saudi Arabia allied lobby machinery in the U.S.m which failed sabotaging the November nuclear breakthrough between Iran and P5+1; their last desperate effort to muddy the water to catch fish, i.e., to retroactively undermine the fruition of the nuclear deal.
Our family’s life story, which I share herein, is not unique but rather a typical representative of hundreds of thousands of Americans of Iranian heritage in this country. When such politically charged and divisive rhetoric, played up by the two branches of Government, is perpetrated, its adverse ramifications on the security, safety, academic and professional opportunities and career advancement of our community is seriously undermined. Consequently, every member of our community in particular, but also those of south, southwest Asian ancestry, irrespective of their ‘assumed’ religion or not and national origin, is presumed guilty without proof. In this trumpeting orchestration with no causation, presumption of innocence, enshrined in our great Constitution, does not apply to Iranian-Americans and others from the aforementioned region.
My wife and I arrived in the U.S. from Iran to pursue postgraduate doctoral education in 1979, and have since proudly become naturalized American citizens in the late 1980’s. In my family with three adult children including a sophomore premed still in college, we have collectively earned 16 college degrees including three doctorates already! As university professors we have educated thousands of American and international students. As scholars, my family members have hundreds of published articles advancing concepts in sciences, education, medicine and healthcare. As a Fulbright Scholar or visiting professors, we have represented our great nation in universities in Denmark, Oxford, Rome and Florence. We each have spent 10-20 weekly voluntary hours on community and civic altruism, philanthropy and humane causes for the past nearly 40 years. Like Fareed Zakaria et al, and as universal humanists, none of us have attended an Islamic sermon for most, if not all, of our sixty years of life, especially in the past 40 years. In fact, we come from a ‘mutt’ Persian pedigree, both in terms of ethnicity and labeled ancestral religions that is comprised of Shia and Sunni Muslims as well as Zoroastrian, Armenian Christian, Mizrahi Jewry, and even Baha’i. Notwithstanding, we believe in the golden rule anchored on universal spiritual humanism to advocate for equality, justice and peace. And now we have, once again, become apprehensive in our daily lives, for guilt assumed for presumptuous associations.
Let me close by a most famous 13th century by the Persian Poet Sa’adi, our motto in life, and as inscribed over the entrance arch of the UN Headquarter in Geneva, Switzerland:
Humans are all members of one frame,
Since all, at first, from the same essence came;
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their desired rest;
If thou feel'st not for others' misery,
A human being is no name for thee!