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A critique of unreason

By Kam Zarrabi, San Diego

In my most recent article appearing in payvand, "Regime Change.....", I inadvertently poked my finger in a nasty beehive by using the word "Farsi" somewhere in the text.

I usually do get a considerable number of responses to my articles, and look forward to receiving all the feedback, positive as well as negative. But this time the feedback was mostly criticizing me for the using "Farsi" in place of the usual "Persian." I was frankly quite impressed, yet dismayed at the same time.

I was impressed that several Iranian academics, from Iran to the United States and as far as Australia, had bothered to respond in such well-orchestrated and coordinated manner to what they had considered to be an egregious literary error in my part. They were all members of a certain organization dedicated to the preservation of our "Persian" heritage.

Whether or not this group's rejection of the word Farsi has any merit is immaterial here; what I found remarkable was the group's dedication and devotion to the agenda at hand. What dismayed me, however, was the group's cutesy or cozy focus on the trivia. I had just hammered out to the best of my ability what I considered to be a careful analysis of events that bear on the destiny of our troubled homeland, and all that these scholars had found worth commenting on from my writing was a single use of the word Farsi!

Another correspondence that deflected my attention was a long e-letter from Germany, written in a very eloquent and dramatic Farsi prose. There was indeed a lot of wisdom in that article, but mostly buried underneath tons of slogans and hyperbolae about the evils of capitalist imperialism. It reminded me of my high school years when our more enlightened "Roshanfekr" friends used to confuse and impress us with the same pseudo-Marxist gibberish: Again, a case of mismanaged good intentions.

But, by far the most interesting e-mail I have recently received from the friends of payvand was the copy of a letter written right after 9/11 by Erica Sobhani, wife of Mr. Sohrab (Rob) Sobhani, stating their pride in being real Americans, and taking issue with the Iranian critics of her husband's attitude and activities.

I have seen Mr. Sobhani in many, actually too many, television interviews where, cashing in on his Iranianness, he portrayed himself as a savvy observer of the Iranian affairs.

Mrs. Sobhani and her husband have every right, of course, to consider themselves Americans; after all, they pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States and broke any allegiances to any other loyalties or ties when they were sworn in as naturalized citizens. That is actually as it should be, although it is not always the case.

The Sobhanis' political views and their preference for their chosen pursuits are also their rights guaranteed to them under the constitution of their adopted country.

Like so many other immigrants, Mr. Sobhani may still carry some sympathy for his former homeland in his heart, and may even have some ideas about improving the situation in Iran, based on his personal ambitions and motives.

Here, what may legitimately be subject to criticism are Mr. Sobhani's motives, sincerity and knowledge, when he expresses his views about Iran and America's relationship with Iran.

In my personal opinion, Rob Sobhani is an ambitious, self-serving, want-to-be entrepreneur, who would do or say anything that might promote his very personal agendas (The Caspian Energy Consulting firm Mr. Sobhani has founded speaks volumes about his ulterior motives!). His Arab counterpart in the same general academic area, Fuad Ajami, is another "turncoat" who now has a secure position as a former Arab with very fashionable anti-Arab sentiments.

Ajami's anti-Arab, and Sobhani's equally fashionable and timely anti-Iranian positions have resulted in their great popularity as guests on television talk shows, particularly FOX network with its strong pro-Administration, neoconservative tilt. Their appeal to the American audiences is the result of the presumptuous association of their Arab or Iranian heritage with their genuine interest or knowledge of affairs in their respective countries of origin.

This association has unfortunately provided these gentlemen with a podium to promote their personally motivated agendas, parading as informed, educated, and most of all, objective opinions and analyses of the situations on the ground. The Sobhanis or the Ajamis may insist that, as true Americans, their only real allegiance is to their adopted country, the United States, even if America's interests might best be served at the expense of their former homelands.

There actually are quite a few immigrants who feel exactly like that; they are able to turn off the button that regulates passion, emotion, or nostalgia for anything left behind. Most human beings, however, are not capable of such feline pragmatism or opportunism.

But, then again, the Sobhanis and Ajamis might claim that they still do carry a little flame for their former countries. It is just that they believe the best interests of their former home countries will be in their complete surrender or capitulation to the will of the United States' neocon command and control structure. They might even be quite honest about this view, although they couldn't convince most of us of their sincerity.

Mrs. Sobhani must understand that, just as is her husband entitled to form whatever opinion he chooses to express, so are his critics who believe that he is a self-serving charlatan who is selling Iran's best interests for his personal fame and gain.

As they say, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

... Payvand News - 12/8/03 ... --

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