Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What do you mean by "the Iranian regime"?

This post is motivated by a (non-Iranian) friend of mine lecturing me on the significance of a Queer and Feminist protest in front of an Ismaili-funded research institution, with the aim to help liberate some poor woman who is rotting in some Iranian jail on the charges of enabling the anti-sharia feminists. She, who I suspect knows close to nothing about Iran, talked about "the regime" in such a tone as if she knew all that there was to know about "the regime".

Listening to war and destruction, brought about to Syria and Iraq, by these good-willing anti-war war-enabling "regime"-fighting activists, I was compelled to offer some opinion--which I am sure in her righteous academic mind, she did not pay any attention to. But so be it. Here are my thoughts:

On the weekend, I talked to my best friend on the phone and she asked me about Iran (which I recently visited). I told her what I had seen (I will make a separate post about that). She told me that no one who comes back from Iran ever tells her any of what i told her. She said that everyone just talks about the latest like-America-mall; or super-luxury-gyms, and women dressing this or that way--restaurants and more restaurants. 

I do know how much time expats visiting Iran do (not) have; I know the tendency to seek "evidence" for 'oh Iran is becoming just like Europe, it's not all Muslims and mullah's'; I know the _colonized_ mind of many educated Iranians who simultaneously take pride in traditions of 2500 years ago but want to act post-modern; while being wired by a Shiite (slightly ir-rational) culture, and configured by chaos and entropy (which they hate, but also thrive in). I also know the particular 'class' of Iranians that one is likely to meet outside Iran--they are not average Joes. 

I also know that when I go to Iran, I do not seek that which is 'fun' and 'modern'; but that which remains broken, volatile, ancient, and salient, that which dominates the below-surface of "modernity, Iranian style." I go there as my own reporter, my own journalist, and I talk talk talk talk to as many people as I can about as many topics as I can; and because I have the privilege of walking through all levels of social strata, I think my observations are out of the box. I always get to the heart of things which I am passionate about, in order to be able to see them from outside the box. Perhaps this is why this blog was once one of the best Iran-analysis blogs--and I have slowed down because this was becoming a source for those who seek sob-stories out of everything that comes from Iran. Also because of those calls to contribution and interviews about topics which I felt I was unqualified to comment on.

From a rational perspective that branches over the box where my roots are emotionally deep, I like to suggest to non-Iranians to seriously "pause" when they want to talk about the Iranian "regime" as an abstract interpretation of something that is fundamentally different from and diametrically opposed to the people of Iran. I hate to say, "they are not." This is not to say people don't hate the 'regime' and that the 'regime' doesn't screw the people, but the relations are of the kind of a father and child who abuse and hate each other, respectively, and yet share a lot of hereditary features. This mode of separation is too simplistic and if history is a good judge (e.g. from the havoc we see in Iraq and Syria) it often leads to counterproductive acts of benevolence: e.g. bombing Iraq to annihilation in order to free people from the madman Saddam. This "regime" in Iran, is something like the 1% of America--everyone hates them, and no one acknowledges the fact that that 1% is borne out of their own collective cultural desires. 

Can you take the 'potential' to reach the TOP from the American psyche? You can't take it out of the Persian psyche either. This regime, like the previous one, like the one before that, like that of Cyrus the Great aspires to be the ultimate representative of the Divine on earth. In every Rumi poem that you love, beats a desire to become a god. The "regime" in Iran, is the manifestation of the dynamics of power, necessitated by the geopolitical reality of the place where it has come to exist. And trust me, it exists against adversity that is unimaginable to those who have not had to dig 35,000 kilometers worth of Qanats to bring water from mountains to live, to survive for at least 7000 years. This regime is a living, breathing, plastic beast, not a totem to worship or to break. This beast is brutal, and slow, and as adaptive as a seven-headed serpent. You need to tame it with the wisdom of the land and history which have given it birth, not with the wisdom of the human-like gods of the Olympus.

And whatever you do, don't bother "toppling" it. Just go to a coffee shop in the heart of protesting-tehran, and have a cup of coffee with some of those green-revolutionaries, and hear their content to be living in a safe and bomb-free city when all else around them is blasting in random intervals. Yes, some of those are praying for the current leader to never die! And no, when they execute some 'rebels', people look away. Safety before human rights ... A tough bite to swallow, ... I know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Goodbye Kiarostami: The man of LIFE AND NOTHING BUT.

I never wrote about him ...
I wrote about Mehrjui, and about Baizai, but not about him because the world had already discovered him when I learned to write in English.

I discovered him when I was a renegade 18-year old poet and skipped my Electrical Engineering classes, to snuggle in the back of the Cinemas Asre-Jadid (Modern Times), near my university and to discover cinema with Tarkovsky and the opposite of Tarkovsky, Kiarostami, in repeat viewing of  HomeworkWhere Is the Friend's Home? and Close-Up . 

I left Iran around that time, and his films did not leave me alone. Omnipresent in international festivals, Kiarostami and a wave of alike films out of Iran, became the rope of cultural pride to which I clung, as an immigrant from the unwanted country of Iran ...

And Kiarostami, his films, his depth, his peace, his gaze is responsible, single handedly responsible for putting The Iranian New Wave on the map of the world cinema. I never wrote about him, because the world was busy writing about him and about many of his students, such as Jafar Panahi. But if it were not these filmmakers, if their proactive debunking of all the falsehood the world media is capable of feeding innocent minds, I am convinced, Iran will not have been living the peace which was taken from its less culturally-active neighbors.

Kiarostami ,,, the man who refused to acknowledge the violence in world, and in the midst of pain and agony, death and rubble, talked and saw LIFE AND NOTHING ELSE.(*)

Thank you and so long ...

Tears don't stop ...

The Experience 1973
The Traveler 1974
So Can I 1975
Two Solutions for One Problem 1975
Colors, 1976
A Wedding Suit, 1976
Report 1977
First Case, Second Case 1979
Toothache 1980
Orderly or Disorderly 1981
 The Chorus 1982 
The Key 1987
Homework. 1989
Close-Up 1990
The Journey  1995 (for Panahi) 
The White Balloon 1995 (for Panahi) 
ABC Africa 2001
Ten 2002 
Five, 2003
10 on Ten 2004 
Shirin 2008

Monday, January 11, 2016

Iranian News Agencies React: "The LEGENDARY David Bowie passed away"

One wouldn't expect that the official Iranian News Agencies be reacting to the passing of a bisexual British artist. Indeed IRNA and ISNA didn't,  but the most conservative news outlet in Iran, FarsNews, did.

Fars News even sounded revealingly about the timeless artists:  "Davie Bowie, the famous British musician passed away." "According to the music reporter of the Fars News, David Bowie, the famous musician, singer, composer and actor who had a remarkable impact in in Rock music world, dies after a long struggle with Cancer, at the age of 69." It then refers to the 2002 ranking of David Bowie in the chart of the 100 great Brits (29), and Rolling Stone's top 100, 39, and the 100 greatest rock singers (23).

ILNA, the Labour's reporting agency is also covering the news with the title 
"The legendary David Bowie passed away". It talks about Bowie's "peaceful death after a courageous battle with cancer" and introduces the album BlackStar, which was released on his birthday on Friday and was met with critical acclaim. The report then provides a quick biography, refers to the same rankings as Fars News and ends by referring to Bowie's fashion and hairstyle as an important inspiration to the wolrd of music. 

And here, the official news agency Mehr News doesn't assume that someone may not know DAvid Bowie, and titles: "David Bowie Passed away at 69."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Saudis versus ISIS: Better-Dressed Jihadis

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. 

In a recent exclusive for the Consortium News, he writes:

For generations, U.S. officials have averted their eyes from Saudi Arabia’s grotesque monarchy – which oppresses women, spreads jihadism and slaughters dissidents – in a crude trade-off of Saudi oil for American weapons and U.S. security guarantees. It is a deal with the devil that may finally be coming due. 
The increasingly undeniable reality is that the Saudis along with other oil sheikhs are the biggest backers of Al Qaeda and various terrorist groups – helping these killers as long as they spread their mayhem in other countries and not bother the spoiled playboys of the Persian Gulf.

and asks

Will Official Washington’s dominant neocon/liberal-interventionist claque continue to protect the Saudis who have built a regional alliance of convenience with Israel over their shared hatred of Iran?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We cannot deny asylum

We can't deny asylum ... we can't deny asylum ... we have every right and responsibility to quarantine and screen any ship that arrives to our shores, but we cannot deny asylum ...
I remember when I was 8, and when the night went dark, and the radio said that Iraq attacked, and I started into the sky into my favorite stars waiting for a fast shiny object to pierce the night, scared, listening to the red-siren, waiting for the sound barrier to break and for the bomb to fall and wondering how would that shallow pool save us from the bombs ... and wishing our house had a basement (where we were told to hide) ... wanting to poop myself, wanting to cry [but I didn't, thanks to the serenity of those IRON-PARENTS of mine, who never panic and lose hope and fall into hysteria no matter how death and danger knock on their door] ... 

The bombs never fell on us and I didn't hear the sound-barrier break, unless once during a military exercise when I was much older (16 I think), and the war was about to be over--when a relative died in my mother's arms of explosion fright ... After two years of running to lower-ground, of hiding in the country and staring at the sky for a Russian Mig (which is what Saddam had) or a Russian Scud missile, I learned that we were safe in the far east, where we were surrounded by the unpenetrable mountains. 

Then, we had a chance to focus our fear on Afghan refugees, and we were scared of them because every theft and crime was blamed on them--although it was the Iranians who committed them (Although, my parents who were not scared of bombs were not scared of Afghans, because when we went away to see my grandparents in Kerman, they let an Afghan construction worker guard the house) ... We were scared and discriminatory and ungenerous, but to deny asylum was unimaginable. A country in war itself let hundreds of thousands of refugees ... to deny asylum was unimaginable ... just as it was unimaginable to deny asylum to the Kuwaiti and Iraqis running from George Bush 1st shock and awe campaign. 

I know what it is to grow in war-hardship but to not even imagine the possibility of any justification to deny food to the beggar who came to our door at lunch time, at a time that food was rationed, that rice and butter and sugar were rationed ... to deny food and shelter to a hand that extends is UNIMAGINABLE . 
To me, that in Canada, in the US, in the UK, in the Netherlands and France, we oppose asylum is unimaginable ... to imagine a child of 8, staring in the sky and wanting to poop herself out of anxiety of a bomb is unimaginable ... to know that a bomb will fall on the child because the country doesn't have mountains to save it, is unimaginable ... 

we can't be petty ... we just cannot be petty ... cry emoticon

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ramadan & I

I have been thinking of my grandmother lately; perhaps because of Ramadan. We woke up before dawn, to pray and to eat--as is common to do in preparation for fasting. We didn't fast always, but the dawn prayer call would wake us up and it was a pleasant spiritual experience--which I miss despite all my religiouslessness. In my life I have fasted a total of 13 days, 3 of them when I was 11--and no I didn't die, and no I wasn't forced, if anything I was discouraged by my parents. I loved getting up at dawn because that was a good time to ask her for after-prayer stories. What is it with children's love to hear the same story, again, again and again?
My grandmother had an amazing memory for details, and a great narrative style, and infinite patience and love for us. These days, one of her stories has occupied me most--perhaps because I have been reading too many vengeful rants from all sorts of people claiming all sorts of violent justice, from one another.
The story was of her only blood-brother being killed "accidentally" by a half brother who was cleaning his rifle on the eve of another brother's wedding. Her stories of my ancestors were full of romantics: Mountains, guns and horses, intrigues of power, lust for brides enamored in gold, love for grooms of legendary bravery, broken hearts and broken promises, even poison and murder. And this accidental shooting too was a suspected murder; for the brother who was killed was a beautiful one, a brave one, one of great stars to one day lead the clan--or so thought the grieving great grandmother. But the morale of the story was this: that when they brought the handcuffed 'killer' to her mother, she asked him to be released, not seeking vengeance; and leaving it for "God" to decide on the Judgement Day.
The story of "leaving justice to god, until the judgement day" is a prevalent one in my culture, one in whose root there is a deep recognition that earthy REVENGE cannot undo the wrong; that it can only make more wrong. Islam, for sure, allows retribution: An Eye for an Eye; but the version of Islam that is practiced in Iran also provisions for forgiveness. Many think it is a flaw in the judiciary system to burden the family of the victim with the verdict to carry the punishment or not. But the silver lining is that the culture flexes the laws to allow (and in fact it applaudes) the individual "choice" for forgiveness.
Many years ago, a group of criminals had kidnapped a child of a distant cousin (she was the great granddaughter of my great grandmother). The kidnappers were arrested before collecting ransom. Their punishment by the law would have been death. But the great cousin let them live: "Let leave their punishment for god's decision on the judgement day.", I recall her telling my mother.
At the end of Ramadan, it is customary for the king to hand in pardons. This year, 930 Iranian prisoners have received either a pardon or a reduction of the sentence.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Let's negotiate!

If I was a cartoonist, I would draw a Greek oracle and a Persian poet, towering over Merkel holding a stash of cash and Kerry hugging Israel as a crying baby holding a nuclear missile as a toy, and saying "ok kids, let's negotiate."

But I am not!

So I have this to say:

First, I agree with Zarif that this was an unnecessary crisis over nothing. 

Second, I don't understand who decides that a fatwa against Salman Rushdi is a 'serious' deal, but a fatwa against nuclear weapons is not!

Third, I believe the sanctions on Iran have been unjustified; and the blockade of Iranian assets has been illegal; all attempts to bring a growing regional power to its knees. And I think the deal we are getting today is a testament to the failure of those who have tried to isolate Iran; this is a deal to share the pie from which China and Russia and India have been nibbling. All the talks about nuclear 'crisis' are nonsense. 

That said, Iranians have displayed yet again that theirs is a nation of PEACE; and they stand in stark contrast to their war mongering counterparts, Saudi Arabia (who is bombing men and women in Yemen) and Israel (who was bombing men and women in Gaza last year).

It is now up to Americans to hold their congress accountable to PEACE AND REASON and to rescue their political system from a corrupt system that allows Yehuda Ben-Meir, head of the National Security and Public Opinion Project at Tel-Aviv say:  "The biggest challenge will be mustering enough Democratic votes to override any Obama veto".

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Racism is on my mind:

Illegal migrants in Europe; Confederate flag; White supremacist massacres; ISIS massacres; The friend who thinks my Hijab as a muslim woman is repulsive. My being repulsed by the oppression I assume the Hassidic girls in my neighborhood suffer. The proto-fascist new-rich "French" neighbors who have moved into the 'recently hip' areas and feel entitled to stop us "foreigners" when we drive to our home to inquire: "do you live in this neighborhood? because the alley belongs to the residents."

With globalization, with communication, we have been forced to stare into the inners of other tribes.

Often, our values clash, but we are not able or patient enough to understand, to articulate why. We oppress the visceral reaction to this cultural clash, pretend that we are blind to race and to cultural differences, and act indifferently when they do not hit us personally.

While this may be not true for people who are born to and are raised in truly multicultural societies, it is likely for those of us who come to contact with the "other" as grownups.

In some ways, most of us are closeted racists: those of us who are white and hold the current power in this world and know how to speak in politically correct terms; those of us who are brown and yellow and boast about fully regaining the power by the next two or three generations; those of us who are black and red, and see ourselves as the generous hosts-turned-victims of the the white greed also feel a need to rebel against this exploitative order of things, as the world stands today. All of us are racists, in as far as our primate ancestors are.

But the White world is particularly confused about it.

First, it doesn't seem to really comprehend the deep rooted grudges that the rest of the world holds against it. Second, it is in denial about its racism. And Third, it is so assured of its own superiority that it is unable to admit it doesn't have a clue what it should and shouldn't do about it.

This delusion is partly because the post-war generation has been cushioned in comfortable consumerism and "democracy", which it has been proudly importing by the help from financial beneficiaries of the capitalist order, in order to create a global village where even in the farthest of a polynesian volcanic Islands in Hawaii, one can feel as in Barcelona. With this simulated "inclusion", the White has begun absolving itself of the savagery it exhibited during the first and second world wars, not to mention the other carnages it left in Africa and Asia, upon which its current industrial revolution and wealth have flourished.

 The delusion is also because the children of the WWII parents are somewhat self-satisfied with their legacy of global performance to bring peace and prosperity to all! For example, the post-war 'right' still congratulates itself on behalf of Reagan, for collapsing the Wall. The post-war 'left' also congratulates itself on behalf of the civil-right movement in America and de-colonization of the European colonies.

The irony is that one generation later, self-righteousness of those who absolved their racist White cultures by trying to open the doors of their countries to "immigrants and refugees" from their ex-colonies is manifesting in the behavior of those who think they have already paid their dues to those they had robbed in the past centuries. "Get over it", they say, for they got over the Nazi atrocities, for example.

The newer generations, who have been raised in the post-modern culture of 'all goes' and 'forgive and forget all' and 'relax and be happy' because after the God, "the author is dead" too, no longer feel responsible for the sins of their fathers. They are those who are pushing to close those doors to others, and practice highly discriminatory and exclusionary cultures. The Israeli children of the victims of Holocaust kill, segregate and steal other's land with impunity. The European racism has been handed justification, thanks to the Fatwas on Salman Rushdi's life, the killing of the Dutch filmmakers, and the massacre of the French cartoonists--which ironically have been literary manifestations of the White's visceral hatred for the culture of the other who has been fueling its economies. This self-righteousness begets the hatred of those who did suffer, and are again suffering this new versions of supremacist manifestations--despite the fact of growing up within this self-congratulating and yet othering cultures. Paris riots & ISIS recruitments are cases in point.

 The post-war White in America is somewhat different. After all America is a melting pot with open arms for anyone who wishes its dreams.

Inclusive, and culturally open to all, unless socialism, America is still the proud exporter of war and democracy, and still unapologetic. Thanks to "death to USA" chants from the Islamic Revolution hostage-takers, Vietnam and Korea are long forgotten. The Japanese, the victims of America's most atrocious assault in the history of humanity, are the happy tourist of the Pearl harbour. Majority of the leftish White feels righteous about reading the Huffington post while huffing about Bush and Blair. It protests against wars, but from an armchair and over beer, because war is what in effect finances the enlightened lifestyle to which America (of any colour) feels entitled--now and through investment/pension schemes. Comfortably Geek, ex-hippies of America have turned hip-greens on the pastures of the Silicon Valley. Their dirty jobs are done by the Yellow slaves. Their industrial dumps are handled by the Black ones who also supply the raw materials--while Bill Gates and Bill Clinton "educate" their pupils into the capitalist doctrine. Their post-modern causes are less racism, and more gay rights and environment. (As soon as the Supreme court recognized equal rights for the Gay, America draped itself in the rainbow colors of the facebook and forgot about the Charleston massacre.)

Yet, despite the fact that being a black boy increases your chances of getting killed in America, America does have a Black president, who keeps the debate about race open and live. However, not all colours have a similar representation on the world-protest stage, and this is why I suggest the White world is confused about what to do about racism.

Take the White students who "occupy" this and that, for example. They are either "fringe", hobo-looking, gruffy, tattooed, ringed, bearded, hipster, and often virtual; or well suited up and in the service of this or that right-wing lobby. There are also the more radical and violent ones, whom the White America insists on keeping armed, to defend them from the possible revolt of the black or the Red--such as the confederate Charleston killer. If very well disciplined, or very poor, they will join a "respectable" army to save the mankind, with the world being their simulacrum where they are rewarded by their rate of perishing the bad-guys, just as in video games. But the coloured kids do not dare to protest. When American police shoots black kids and leaves them dead in cold blood, the black parents urge the protesters to peace and calm.

When the white supremacist massacres in the black church, the black community asks for forgiveness. The colour kid who wants to protest joins ISIS. This is the crux of the problem. This is why the world holds a grudge against the white, who by all accounts have been the most destructive, greedy and bloodthirsty humans on earth, and yet least apologetic ones.

Even the "Good White", the most open-minded and benevolent of them all is not fully color-blind and feels 'white-privileged' by the merits of having had access (excess: better food, better nutrition, better education, better brain, bigger brain and more IQ!), and by its sense of charitableness towards the world. For this, it assumes its duty to dictate a solution to this world. Today, the "Good White" is confused and the "Bad White" is in a state of terror. And, because the White is profoundly self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, and self-righteous, it is incapable of comprehending the hatred that his deaf arrogance shall beget.

This confusion about their goodness (by the Good White), and this badassness triggered by terror (felt by the Bad White, the openly racist gun toting one), shall make the White terribly vulnerable. It is nature after all. Under- and over-activated immune systems are dangerous to living organisms. 

As it stands, we are in a vicious circle; and the media, ubiquitous and omnipresent is only speeding up the speed at which we spiral down the whirl of self-destruction. Imagine, if the White disambiguated itself from the illusion of superiority, and began to develop a deeper understanding and true respect for the ways of the rest of the world, things would have had better prospects of improvement.

The White do owe a profound apology to the world for having been such intrusive, exploitative, destructive force in the past 500 years. Human nature is not devoid of inherent violence to dominate, but the technological speed with which the white man has destroyed the world, even for its own race, is what makes them particularly atrocious.

If I were White, I would just shut up for a bit, and sit in a corner and begin to educate myself silently and genuinely about the "lesser" cultures that I have worked so hard to annihilate (instead of insisting that I have a superior solution due to my superior culture). I would also have a deep reflection about my 'superiority' and make calculations about what I have laid to waste in the name of development and progress. Only then, may the rest of the world begin to forgive, and forget.

 A few months ago, I saw a youTube video of a group of Talibans smashing television sets, while filming the event on a cell phone and broadcasting it. We need to listen carefully: our media, their message.

Post Script:

Sharing these thoughts on my personal facebook begot a number of defensive reactions from friends who thought I was attacking their "whiteness". While defending their skin colour, they also proposed a few solutions to solve the problems of the world, which were independent of the topic of "racism" to which I wanted to pay focused attention. I have since offered the following clarifications, which I like to document here for posterity:

What I wrote is so much less about the colour of skin, than about a particular culture that a skin embodies. The generalization is not about the colour of skin, but the colour of a culture. 

In my "rash generalizations about the 'white' philosophy and views", I started my piece by saying that we are all racists, not in the least because it "encapsulates our way of life; our luxuries, our rituals, our communities, our prejudices, and all the rest of the things we use to identify ourselves and to make sense of our worlds.", and therefore we suppress a visceral discomfort when we come to contact with the 'other'. I then said that the 'white are particularly confused about their racist reality because although "Westerners in particular probably tend to harbour a sense of superiority", "that is well masked by rationalizations to the contrary", and yet it "unveils itself when put to the test by exposure to "the other", in the form of immigration or tourism." 

The "shut up and listen more" is a recommendation for the white culture, which has dominated the world by the merit of being loud and coming through megaphones of industrialized military, and materialist hegemony. 

The loud white has drowned every voice in this globe through the cacophony of intra-cultural debating of the flavors of a) its own philosophies and b)misappropriation of the philosophies of others. You see, in your response to me, you have felt compelled to come strong to assert your views about let's "condemn violence in all its forms, and continue both to speak and to listen. And to learn that if we continue to preach generalizations about race, we'll simply continue to live out those generalizations, and to form our actions on their basis, instead of banish those concepts from our global mindset and move on to matters of more pressing urgency: controlling our population growth, respecting our environments, normalizing our relationships, eradicating our arms stockpiles, and so on." ... it is to this kind of self-righteous statement that I say "shut up" [not literally] and LISTEN to what I am trying to say, instead of prescribing MEDICINE/CURE from a particular mindset. To this statement, I would say, let's, before offering our solutions WHILE justifying ourselves on the "natural" right to domination and territorialize, just REFLECT on the responsibility we, all the benefactors of the WHITE SUPREMACY, bear. My piece is not about RACISM, it is about the confusion of the "white".

This was not sufficient, as another friend joined the discussion to further attack me for ad hominem, for discarding the content of the previous comment because it was coming from a "self righteous whity". Luckily for me, another "whitey" came to my rescue to underline how that very comment was a proof of how this particular "enlightened European" mind does not LISTEN, proving my point! But I had to offer extra contextualization:

 I think we have to contextualize "self-righteous". It is not addressed at X [and I am sure he didn't think that], it is brought up to point to a particular "mode of communication" which I critique as "white" [aka, any of us, including myself, who are indoctrinated by the European _REASON_]. (This is what I think Y hinted at as well, about your reaction to my reaction--before discussion of my post)

My post is about the "confusion" of the "white" about its self-righteousness; and I do explain what that looks like: "OFFERING SOLUTIONS ACCORDING TO ONE'S OWN WORLD VIEW". The Self-Righteous is referencing what I said in the main post: "The irony is that one generation later, self-righteousness of those who absolved their racist White cultures by trying to open the doors of their countries to "immigrants and refugees" from their ex-colonies is manifesting in the behavior of those who think they have already paid their dues to those they had robbed in the past centuries. "Get over it", they say, for they got over the Nazi atrocities, for example." ... 

This post is my conclusion that "WE" cannot offer solutions, we cannot appease, we cannot bring 'reason' to a situation that is tragic and a situation that has become so tragic BECAUSE of our "reasonable" philosophies in the past 2-3 centuries. I say "we" because I am the student of a "white" way of researching, exploring, exploiting and navigating the world myself.

Racism is a topic that I am trying to grapple with as an immigrant, who is about to become unwanted (because of my assumes religion); as a settler on a land occupied and tensions unresolved (like on HWY 15 walls of the big red factory painted with "STOLEN INDIAN LAND"); as an Iranian whose entire history is marked by resistance to colonization (with some success, although at times at hefty price of war and repression). I am trying to understand racism as a 'scientist' of human development, emotions, pain, stress, 'epigenetics'. And I am trying to grapple with "racism", as a human who breaks down when sighting a confederate flag blowing on the beaches of a modern democracy-exporter. 

And as I am grappling with the issue of race, as I come to contact with cultures new and foreign and weird or fascinating to me, I acknowledge, as I did at the beginning of my post, that I REACT as a human to the novelty and the foreignness of the 'other'. 

And I am more and more convinced that we cannot offer solution, not even condolences to the black men of America who are the likely targets of police brutality; we cannot sit at the same table and ask the First nation of Canada to "let's move on from the tragedy of your cultures burning either in the ethanol of our CIVILIZATION, or frack-tured by our imported notions of development and progress. The racism experienced by the black and the indians is incomparable to anything that anyone else may have suffered. The brutality of their history numbs my tongue. All I can do is to be silent (even when I shoudl with them, for them), and to bow my head and to LISTEN to what solution THEY offer, To what THEY say will reduce their pain. 

So no, I am not asking the "whities to shut up" in order to stifle discussions. I am asking that we stop believing that we KNOW the solution because we are convinced of our own supremacy. 

This weekend, I read a great book "Undercommons" (I have one chapter to go). I share excerpts, which resonates with King's, with Fanon's ... whose statements, I think resonate with what I wrote in the original post.

P.S. I totally understand your irritation with "skin colour", and this is why I was happy that Andrew called me on it, so I could clarify. This is really not about the colour of skin, it's about the colour of cultures.

This was still "not acceptable"!

So I leave a few excerpts from

Martin Luther King:
Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. 
We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its Indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it." (Why We Can't Wait, 1963) 

From Franz Fanon:
"When I search for Man in the technique and the style of Europe, I see only a succession of negations of man, and an avalanche of murders. The human condition, plans for mankind and collaboration between men in those tasks which increase the sum total of humanity are new problems, which demand true inventions. Let us decide not to imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction. Let us try to create the whole man, whom Europe has been incapable of bringing to triumphant birth.

Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions.

Comrades, have we not other work to do than to create a third Europe? The West saw itself as a spiritual adventure. It is in the name of the spirit, in the name of the spirit of Europe, that Europe has made her encroachments, that she has justified her crimes and legitimized the slavery in which she holds four-fifths of humanity. Yes, the European spirit has strange roots. All European thought has unfolded in places which were increasingly more deserted and more encircled by precipices; and thus it was that the custom grew up in those places of very seldom meeting man." (The Wretched of the Earth, 1961)

From an introduction to a contemporary book about racism:
If you want to know what the undercommons wants, what Moten and Harney want, what black people, indigenous peoples, queers and poor people want, what we (the “we” who cohabit in the space of the undercommons) want, it is this – we cannot be satisfied with the recognition and acknowledgement generated by the very system that denies a) that anything was ever broken and b) that we deserved to be the broken part; so we refuse to ask for recognition and instead we want to take apart, dismantle, tear down the structure that, right now, limits our ability to find each other, to see beyond it and to access the places that we know lie outside its walls. We cannot say what new structures will replace the ones we live with yet, because once we have torn shit down, we will inevitably see more and see differently and feel a new sense of wanting and being and becoming. What we want after “the break” will be different from what we think we want before the break and both are necessarily different from the desire that issues from being in the break." (Introduction to Undercommons, by Jack Halberstam)

From John Metta
"White people are in a position of power in this country because of racism. The question is: Are they brave enough to use that power to speak against the system that gave it to them?
So I’m asking you to help me. Notice this. Speak up. Don’t let it slide. Don’t stand watching in silence. Help build a world where it never gets to the point where the Samaritan has to see someone bloodied and broken.

As for me, I will no longer be silent. I’m going to try to speak kindly, and softly, but that’s gonna be hard. Because it’s getting harder and harder for me to think about the protection of White people’s feelings when White people don’t seem to care at all about the loss of so many Black lives."

And finally, Elie Wiesel:

An immoral society betrays humanity because it betrays the basis for humanity, which is memory. An immoral society deals with memory as some politicians deal with politics. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

# 175 Martyred Divers

By Hassan Gholamali Fard #175 ﺷﻬﻴﺪﻏﻮﺍﺹ
Translation: Naj of Neoresistance

I could hold my breath the longest.

Mohammad who was the funniest of us used to say: "The oxygen in your capsule is untapped." Sometimes we competed in holding our breath. I was the last to let go. This is why I was the permanent member of any operations depending on silence and camouflage.

"Death in water is martyrdome", Ali had said once, "so martyrdom in water is a double blessing." In fact, this is why Ali had become a diver. Mohammad used to say, "Ali is like a fish, he can't stand the earth. If he had your lungs, we could not pull him out of water."

Ali was from Tigris, a child of Shatt. He used to say that Al-Faw and Majnoon were not islands, but a mass of haunted humans who have turned into the shape of an island. He used to say if someone dies in these Southern waters, he will become part of Majnoon [1].

Now we are all lying next to one another. We were supposed to be at the bottom of the waters.  We were supposed to see the rays of sun dancing through the waves when we looked up. We were supposed to collect colourful stones and sea shells for Mohammad's 3 year old daughter. Instead, smell of dust is filling my nostrils. They have laid us straight next to eachother. Handcuffed. I turn to look at Ali. He is restless, like a fish out of water. It breaks my heart.  I

 turn from Ali to Mohammad. His face is on the ground. In his weakened face, there is still a sparkle of humor. He says: "it wasn't our destiny to become water martyrs".

I hear bulldozers. Now they are dumping earth on us. I hold my breath. Mohammad shouts: "Don't be foolish, this way you will suffer more." I don't hear him any more. Earth has filled his nose and throat.

Ali and Mohammad are both next to me. I can feel them moving under earth. My chest is heavy. Layers of earth become thicker and thicker. My body begins itching. The heaviness of the earth is crushing my ribs. Ali and Mohammad are not moving anymore. *We were supposed to die in the water,  I mean this is what we thought, but not by drowning or suffocating.* Ali used to say: "water doesn't suffocate us, but earth kills us."  Now were are dying under earth, tons of earth.

I don't know if my eyes are open or closed. But they burn. I cannot remember the taste of water. I think of Mohammad and Ali. Ali must have become a part of Majnoon now; and Mohammad a piece of colourful stone in his daughter's hands.

The fish who dies last suffers the most, for he sees the death of the other fish. But I ... am still holding my breath.

[1] Majnoon in Arabic means "crazy". The etymology is apparently related to the massive amount of oil reserves in a single land mass. Iraqis used chemical weapons on Iranian troops to take the Island back. It is recently discovered, upon the return of the bodies of the missing Iranian soldiers, that Iraqis had buried them alive. If these atrocity reminds of you ISIS practices, don't be surprised. The ISIS is led by the disenfranchised Saddam military men.

These kinds of Nazi-like operations can only stem from the sick minds of the likes of Rumsfeld.
Saddam Hossein & Rumsfeld in 1983

Thursday, March 12, 2015

With Enemies Like These, Who Needs Friends?

I can't have enough fun with this.

I highlight the parts that make me laugh my heart out!


"in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.  It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.  This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.

Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
Foreign Minister Zarif added that "I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.
 The Iranian Foreign Minister added that "Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran`s peaceful nuclear program." He continued "I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.
He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.
Zarif expressed the hope that his comments "may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement at any time as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.
The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as "mere executive agreements" and not treaties ratified by the Senate.
He reminded them that "their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.
Zarif concluded by stating that "the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How to fear Islam without Islamophobia!

Yesterday, a friend asked: how can you fight Islamophobia while at the same time maintaining your position against the atrocities that are committed by the Islamic States? 

It is really hard! It is particularly hard for people like me who have no religion; who find ALL religions a source of mayhem and misery; who have no god, no angels. Nor any hell or heaven, other than history and hope, respectively. 

But I feel compelled to defend Islam these days; Islam in the way it was taught to me in the Islamic Republic of Iran, first by my grandmother, and next by the state. 

From my grandmother, I learned how to pray, I learned how to have faith in a greater power who sees over me and who protects me if I stay within the path laid out before me by that greater power! As a kid, I read a lot of biblical stories. They are good stories, just as good as the greek myths are, but maybe a bit better for they have moral clarity and happy endings for the good guys--which the greek ones don't often--and in my view therein lies the crux of the occidental.oriental misunderstandings. 

The schools became Islamic when I turned 8! The first two years were virtually indifferent, we just tore out the picture of the Shah and his wife and son from the three pages of our book. Iran was a Muslim country during the Shah too, so nothing really needed to change--other than the bars and dance clubs shutting down.

In those early post-revolution months, I watched my mother and my aunt let go from work. On the surface, it was because they were deemed "unislamic", because they did not dress in an Islamic way or behave in an Islamic way. But the truth was that they were powerful and independent-thinking women and had made enemies of the previously lower-ranked men (and also women) who had bubbled up with the revolution to grow beards and veil their earlier prostitution under thick black chadors, in order to take the higher positions--just the regular revolution stuff that happens everywhere). Both of these role-model women in my life said that they would "suffocate" with a scarf; both of them chose home rather than the Islamic uniform. Not that they were given a choice, but that they refused to conform so they chose the consequences of non-conformism. 

There were many women who chose a different path, who chose to stay. They put on a tight scarf and continued working just as before. In the hindsight, I think they are the ones who reformed the system and kept it from falling apart (the likes of Shirin Ebadi, for instance). 

When I turned 10, we moved to a more conservative place, where the school made us wear a scarf. My mother, scarf-unfriendly and Hijab-naive, ordered us two "fashiony" but funny scarves that I now see commonly worn by the Moroccans in Holland. They covered the forehead fully and then had two wings that you would cross over your chest. Later on, this was the fashion worn by the flight attendants. On the first day to school in Kerman, I was introduced to a Bahai girl to take care of me! She was frightened by the scarf and how COMPLETE my 'hijab' was; "why have they given the Muslim girl to me to babysit?", she reminisced many years later. 

Soon, my pink and hair covering scarf changed to a more normal one, a blue square scarf which I fold into a triangle and tie it up under my neck. In those days, I had soft long hair so the scarf would fall often. I also had long hair, so the scarf could never really cover my hair fully and I got warnings about that in school from the principal, often. 

Then we were forced to pray once a week in school. We did, reluctantly; but we also created fun events around that, like staying in school for lunch and picnicking under the tree! The ISlamic indoctrination also included a few hours of religious lessons every week, they included reading and reciting and memorizing some verses of Quoran, as well as lessons about the history of Islam, the early converts, the wars and why they began. 

In the version of Islam that we were presented in school, the running theme was that ISlam is a religion of justice, of egalite and equality of men and women, irrespective of race or wealth. We learned that the only thing that distinguished humans was their degree of faith. No where in any of those lessons were we told that women are 'inferior' to men; au contraire, we heard often that women were more special, that the heaven was under the feet of mothers, that Mohammad's wife and daughter were an example of HOW IMPORTANT women were in Islam. 

There were teachings about Hijab, and how it is to protect women from the random gaze of the lusting men; and I really cannot recall anything more sticking that that. None of these stories were to impress us Islamically! 

The circle in which I lived despised the Islamic and the Republic together; for this reason my family and most of my relatives were outcasts from the state order. But no one really bothered us; we did what we wanted at home, and there was peace and safety and food and fun even at the time of the war. The biggest Islamic burden we had to deal with was the Hijab. I remember that we often got 'stopped' for it when we went to the mall; and my mother would take the "arresters" aside and lecture them by reciting to them segments of Koran that protected us from their vigilantism; and who could argue with Qoran? 

Other than this, there were virtually no other limits for us as women in the society--if they were, they were imposed by tradition and by chauvinism; and often by other women. 

We did have a funny religious leader then, by the name of Imam Khomeini, whose religious 'superiority' was questioned by many religious people, but by curious events in the history he was flown to Iran, from Paris, to hijack a revolution that had three elements in it, nationalism and communism as well as Islamism. His Islamism posed a less threat to the material interests of the West than did nationalism or communism and so before you know it, he declared the republic as Islamic. A referendum was held, "Islamic Republic? Yes (greed)/No (red) /Abstain (white)). There were gun men, angry gun men, who meddled with those elections, and the vote came out as yes and then mayhem and misery ensued. First there was the hostage crisis (which landed Reagan his victory). 

Next was the war (and the Iran gate). Then, there was the mass execution of political prisoners on Khomeini's decree. Followed by the Salman Rushdi Fatwa. And with all this, every day, Iranians grew less and less Islamic. 

I grew more Islamic though! I went to university right after Khomeini died. Being in Tehran, and in a highly politicized university, and hanging out with the 'writers and artists' in the university, I was drawn to reading about Islam in a philosophical way. And then, I left the country and stopped paying attention to Iran (until I Started this blog 8 years ago), for I had to deal with life as an immigrant plucked from the comfort and protection offered to me in my patriarchic country, and planted in a country where I, as a slim girl had to push my broken car in the snow into a gas station, because there were no "chauvinist muslim man" to lend me a hand! We give one, we gain one. 

At the time that I was not paying attention to Iran, the country was becoming less Islamic, but there were also more acute/radical forms of Islamism emerging. This was because new political factions were emerging in Iran, all Islamic but distinguishing themselves in interpretation of it, depending on what economic interest was espoused by which group; and then there were killings and assassination of dissident political activist, writers, and artists (by the decree of unknown or obscure mullahs with harsh interpretations of Islam). (So this Paris event is like a deja vu for many of us Iranians.) 

But in ALL this, the real Muslims of Iran have no share. They see all these factional fights as politics; and as geopolitics. Islam is a name that is protecting the economic interests of a few, and we are still experimenting with the best way to circumvent this 'plague'. 

And I really think the world needs to pay attention to Iran and to Egypt and to Syria and Iraq, to understand the delicate interplay between rationalism and political Islam as it unfolds today. (This is why I say knee jerk reactions are useless). 

When countries and cultures are under siege, one needs motivation to DEFEND them. Religions provide that. No wars are ever fought by rationalism. Wars need emotional stimuli; and the more the assault on a culture, the stronger the emotions become. 

The western folks will not just go to fight muslims without emotional stimuli. This was provided by the 911 attacks and by the Paris attack. 

Today, I am finding myself emotionally engaged in defending a religion that I don't care for, but I feel obliged to defend because I can see how it is being mispackaged into a certain consumable that leads to nothing but war. Islam Is a political religion; but all religions are political. I am sorry to say this, but the adversaries of Islam, today, have no moral ground to stand on. If I were the king of the world, I would recommend to people to, instead of fighting Islam by defending the "western values" (which judging from the history of the past 400 years, are pretty unjust and violent!), launch a campaign for FAIRNESS and JUSTICE FOR ALL ... This "clash of cultures" is the precise war-scenario in which the lords of the ring have invested.