Press Release by Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), Washington, D.C.
October, 2015, Washington, D.C. - During last night’s Democratic Presidential debate in Las Vegas, Secretary Hillary Clinton made what many view as highly offensive and incendiary comments by equating Iranians as her enemy.
During the final comments of the debate, the moderator asked the Democratic candidates, “Which enemy are you most proud of?” The former U.S. secretary of state and ex-U.S. senator replied, “Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies... the Iranians... probably the Republicans.”
While her intentions may have been different, many ordinary Iranians have taken offence. “As the former Secretary of State and one who is seeking the highest office in the nation, Secretary Clinton should make clear that her remarks do not reflect her attitude toward the Iranian people,” said Dr. Leila Austin, Executive Director of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA). “Such insensitive and incendiary remarks have a potential to damage long-term U.S. interests.”
Iran is quite unique in the Middle East, in that it maintains a sizable young, urban and highly educated population that holds favorable views towards America. Out of context rhetoric and careless remarks only serve to alienate Iranians who want their government to reform and engage the international community in a positive way and embolden those who seek the exact opposite.
Moreover, such comments are offensive to Americans of Iranian heritage, and have the potential to encourage stereotyping, ill will and hatred against a particular group of Americans. Whatever differences may exist with the government of Iran, presidential candidates must make a distinction between the government and the people of Iran.
Recognizing Iran and the recent nuclear agreement will be a central foreign policy issue of the 2016 presidential campaign, PAAIA organized an open letter to the 2016 Presidential Candidates in June of 2015. The letter was signed by thirty-seven prominent Iranian Americans, consisting of current and former government officials, foreign policy experts, scientists, business leaders, authors and media personalities. It urges the presidential candidates to refrain from making broad generalizations about the Iranian people on the campaign trail. Whatever differences may exist with the government of Iran, presidential candidates must make a distinction between the government and the people of Iran.
PAAIA will contact Secretary Clinton’s campaign to express our concerns about the ramifications of her comments.
Click here to view the video of Secretary Clinton’s remarks.
Clinton Should Retire Hostile Iran Rhetoric
Press Release by NIAC Action, Washington, D.C.
Washington, DC - NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement following the first Democratic Presidential debate in Las Vegas:
“It was disappointing to hear Secretary Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, say that "the Iranians" are among the enemies she is most proud of having. At a time when the U.S. and Iran managed to break through decades of enmity to negotiate a historic nuclear agreement, such rhetoric is an embrace of the dangerous past rather than a more promising future.
"Over thirty-five years of tensions between the U.S. and Iran, fueled in part by hostile rhetoric and domestic political pressure, nearly brought us to the brink of war. It took true leadership for President Obama to extend a hand in negotiations and break that vicious cycle. The process started, in part, with the President putting an end to the hostile rhetoric that only empowers hardliners in both countries. In fact, it was on a Democratic primary debate stage in 2007 that then-Senator Obama, flanked by Clinton, announced his willingness to negotiate directly with Iran and break decisively with the Bush Administration's approach. The success of the Iran negotiations, compared to the catastrophic failure of war with Iraq, demonstrate why diplomacy - not saber rattling and the rush to military action - is the best way to resolve our national security challenges.
"We urge Secretary Clinton and the other candidates to similarly articulate how they will continue the positive momentum of diplomacy and retire the counterproductive rhetoric of hostility. The American people - and Democratic primary voters more than anyone - do not want more war. We applauded Secretary Clinton for publicly supporting the Iran nuclear agreement in July at a critical moment when Congressional hawks and powerful lobbies were working to kill it. Now, she should be running on that successful diplomatic initiative and on how the U.S. can utilize engagement to resolve our biggest challenges and potentially turn old enemies into future friends."
NIAC Action 1411 K St NW, Ste 250 Washington, DC 20005 USA
Helping to advance peace and the Iranian-American community.
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