Hyphen Lynks: Iranian American Edition

November 22, 2009

When do you know that an ethnic minority has "made it?" No, it's not when they start turning out doctors or successful businessmen. It's not when they put someone in space. All ethnic minorities have done that by now. It's also not when they know the name of the American national anthem, or all the words. No, there are two markers of successful assimilation -- or at least, successful attainment of mainstream relevance. Ready for 'em?

  1. The right wing establishment starts attacking your orgs in public
  2. You get recognized by the NBA

Yep, that's right, this week's Lynks all focus on Iranian Americans, who have dominated the news this week, and are likely to do so for the foreseeable future, for obvious reasons.

87% of respondents do not believe the Iranian presidential elections were free and fair, with 50% supporting the Obama administration's decision not to interfere in the election or with the election protestors. Further, 50% support diplomatic negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. 35% suggested the Obama administration should have been more actively engaged and provided stronger support to the election protestors.

NIAC issued the press release quoted above, underscoring Iranian Americans' emphasis on human rights in Iran.

  • So if that's the case, what the heck IS going on with The National Iranian American Council (NIAC)? Reverend Moon's conservative Washington Times has reported accusations that NIAC head Trita Parsi has been acting as a lobbyist. That is, he's allegedly been lobbying against the US policy of economic sanctions against Iran. The official problem isn't that NIAC is against sanctions against Tehran: that's a position that NIAC openly espouses. The official problem is that NIAC is not allowed to lobby for anything as long as it is a nonprofit under the tax code. The point of these accusations appears to be slinging mud at NIAC, to make the org appear pro-Ahmedinejad. In fact, NIAC's position on sanctions has long been clear: sanctions don't work, and impact the ordinary people more than the government. Here's NIAC's response, which makes the counter-claim that these allegations have been leaked following a defamation suit NIAC is likely to win.
  • Now why is all of the above so ironic? Well, because the CIA is advertising to recruit Arabic-speaking Arab Americans and Farsi-speaking Iranian Americans of first and second generations, who still have a clue about their families' home cultures. (They're especially looking in Dearborn, MI.) Apparently, only a third of their analysts and 40 percent of overseas operatives (!!!) speak a foreign language. (So there you go, 9/11 conspiracists: it WAS an inside job. Inside incompetence, that is.) It's ironic because it seems the Bush years purged domestic and foreign service of advisors who actually know what they're talking about, necessitating this new CIA recruiting push. But the hottest hotbed of Iran-aware Iranian Americans -- who's that? Oh yeah, NIAC -- is currently thoroughly under attack. How's the freakin' CIA supposed to recruit Iranian American analysts at a time when right-wing extremists are making sure that they're not being heard?
  • Yes, as hinted above, the NBA celebrated its first Iranian Heritage Night last week in Oakland, CA. It "was put together for Hamed Haddadi, the first Iranian-American basketball player in the NBA, playing against the Warriors at Oracle Arena." The vid above has the whole story.
  • And no sooner was it done, than Fox Sports had to suspend two sportscasters (for one night) for an obnoxious exchange about Haddadi at a Memphis game. You can read the exchange here. NIAC (who else?) is demanding more: an apology.