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On The Politics of Iran Get Personal

By David N. Rahni
This passage was written yesterday for the Chronicle of Higher Education Journal, where in its Oct 13 issue, Professor Hamid Dabashi of Columbia objectively criticizes with civility, and not necessarily with humility, Professor Azar Nafisi of Johns Hopkins and her book Lolitta in Tehran. His thesis is basically not to appease to the outsiders as elements of the Indian society did to the British in the 19th century..
A prominent professor's attack on a best-selling memoir sparks debate among Iranian scholars in the U.S. -The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1013/06

Dear Chronicle Editor,

Thank you for your recent article on the lively debate between the two American scholars of Iranian heritage. Despite the apparent divergence between the two scholars; namely, Nafisi and Dabashi, there is, nonetheless, a common theme convergent by both sides, I.e., to advocate for Iran and the plights of Iranians with the effective use of “the pen is mightier than the sword.”  Moreover, the meritorious outcome of their discourse has now brought the rhetoric on Iran as in the public media to a more objective platform in the academe.

The dilemma, as encapsulated in the article, has led to an on-going dichotomy in the Iranian American community of nearly one million. As an American of Iranian ancestry, I also continue to empathize dearly with the aspirations of nearly seventy million Iranians for an independent home-grown democracy anchored on freedom, justice and security. Notwithstanding that however, I have a hard time accepting the presumptuous notion of external elements who espouse disability in that sensitive region of the world by covert or overt military means or the so called “smart sanctions” that would only give more pretexts to the hard-liners there to quench dissent. I opine that the above ideals of Iranian people could only come to fruition through sustainable educational enhancement and socio-cultural and economic reforms from within. Let us remind ourselves that Iran, a country in the making for several millennia with her rich cultural history, multi-ethnicity, and multifaceted contributions to world civilization, is currently commemorating the centennial anniversary of its 1906 constitution. Hence, the notion of struggle for freedom in Iran is not a new phenomenon that can now all of sudden be imported from, and imposed on by the outsiders, especially that the outcome of such hegemonic interventions is self-evident on either side of Iran; namely, in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Let us also remember that Iranians in the South(-west) Asia are the only people, who irrespective of political rhetoric by elements within their government, remain pro-western, and have on numerous occasions like their spontaneous mass candle vigil congregation expressed their sympathetic empathy post September 11 with the US people. Finally, so long as the lingering tension between the US administration and the government of Iran is not equitably resolved through direct, face-to-face negotiation and people-to-people cultural and educational exchanges, the aspiration of Iranian-Americans, thousands of whom are currently serving as professors and scholars in the US will remain impeded at best.

David N. Rahni, PH.D.
Professor of Chemistry & Adjunct Professor,
Environmental Law & Dermatology (NYMC)

... Payvand News - 10/20/06 ... --

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