What Trump’s Muslim Ban Means for the Future of the Iranian-American Community

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Is Donald Trump’s Muslim ban an existential threat to the Iranian-American community, at least in terms of its long term cultural identity? I fear it could be. And I fear we haven’t fully come to terms with its true meaning and impact - particularly if it is the mere first step in a larger plan to end immigration from a select group of Middle Eastern countries.

Let’s first recognize the immediate realities of this ban. This ban will be permanent if it is allowed to stand by the courts and Congress. There is nothing the Iranian government can or will do to meet the Trump administration’s demands in terms of providing information about Iranian visa applicants. Secretary John Kelly admitted as much in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security. As a result, there will be no more Iranian students coming to study at US universities. Zero. Forget about the victory from 2011, when President Obama okayed multiple entry visas for Iranian students. There will be zero-entry visas now.

Iranian student groups at major US universities - as well as the community in general - will lose a pivotal lifeline: The steady stream of Iranian students that reinvigorate not just Iranian student organizations, but the community as a whole. Indeed, much of the Iranian-American elite today were students on F1 visas only a few decades ago. With the loss of students universities will also lose the best ambassadors of Persian culture and Iranian goodwill. The void the absence of future waves of students will create cannot be fully imagined today.

Moreover, there will be no more uncles and aunts, grandmothers and fathers, or cousins coming to visit. There is no substitute for those much-needed injections of Iranian culture that their visits brought - particularly for our children.

Other communities, with arguably fewer challenges than ours, worry about this endlessly. How to maintain Jewish culture, values and heritage is a constant struggle for the Jewish community in the United States. As Peter Beinart once bemoaned at a NIAC event in New York: How do you maintain your ancient culture in a country that tends to reduce everything to McDonalds?

Yet, the Jewish community has a plethora of Jewish Community Centers, preschools, synagogues, Jewish studies centers at US Universities, and cultural and political organizations. And of course, they can freely travel to and receive visitors from Israel.

Iranian Americans do not have a plethora of religious institutions, cultural centers, preschools, or organizations. Many Iranian Americans can’t travel to Iran, and now the visits of blood relatives here in the US will be cut off.

But it gets worse. We do not have the luxury to assume that the Muslim ban is the Trump administration’s first and only step targeting our community. If there are other measures they are planning, what might those be? Already in 2008, we heard rumors that some Republican lawmakers were toying with the idea of a travel ban to Iran. As part of the effort to sanction Iran, a Cuba-style travel ban on Iran was being considered in order to dry out the flow of Iranian-Americans traveling to and spending American dollars in Iran. For unknown reasons, the idea never took off.  

Could the Trump administration revive this idea? It is not inconceivable. The President has without a doubt surrounded himself with a circle of advisors who hate Iran with a passion.

Such a scenario - in which Iranians cannot travel to the US and Iranian-Americans cannot travel to Iran - is in my view an existential threat to our community. Not in the sense that our lives will be at stake, but that our ability to remain bearers of our ancient culture will be at risk. Our Iranian-Americanness, in other words.

The historic track record of Iranians does not give us much hope. Iranians have rarely managed to retain an Iranian identity for more than three generations outside of Iran itself. To begin with, there have been very few instances of mass-exodus from the Iranian plateau in the past three thousand years. And there are no surviving ancient pockets of Iranians outside of Iran's historic boundaries, other than the Zoroastrian communities of India and Pakistan.

Unlike Eastern European Jews and Armenians, who have an impressive track record of retaining their identities in Diaspora despite significant bigotry and discrimination, Iranians are not only bad at it, we had very little experience of Diaspora life until the 1979 revolution. And the only significant example we can point to - the Parsis of India - survived not because of their cultural strength, but because the Indian caste system prevented them from intermarrying. The condition for their permission to settle in Gujarat as they fled the Islamization of Iran was that they would enter the Indian society as a separate people - and keep it that way. Had they settled elsewhere, chances are there would be no traces today of their original cultural and religious identity.

For a rookie Diaspora community such as ours, maintaining a lifeline to Iran is arguably essential for our survival as Iranian-Americans. And even for the small minority within our community that feel indifferent about retaining their Iranian cultural heritage, they still have to answer whether they accept seeing their children grow up as second-class citizens in the United States – always treated as inherent threats to other Americans because of the skin color and birthplace of their parents. There are some in our community who may feel their secular or non-Muslim identities may shield them from these effects. But we must remember that hate does not distinguish. 

We even have examples of Indian non-Muslim immigrants being murdered because the perpetrator thought they were Iranian.

So what can and should be done about this threat – existential or not? Trump’s Muslim ban must be challenged on three fronts: In the courts, in Congress and within US public opinion. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the ban, and the first iteration was essentially stopped in its tracks through these legal challenges. Four major Iranian-American organizations, IABA, Pars Equality Center, PAAIA and NIAC, also filed a lawsuit through the leadership of Iranian American top lawyer Cyrus Mehri.

The second iteration of the Muslim ban has made these legal challenges a bit trickier, however. This version was deliberately designed to avoid inhumane scenes at the airports and to be less vulnerable to legal challenges. Much now rests on our ability to prove in court that despite the changes to the ban, its unconstitutional intent remains intact.

As the legal path grows more challenging, the Congressional path becomes all the more important. Congress can both rescind and prevent funding for implementation. But due to the hyper partisan atmosphere in Congress, almost all Democrats oppose the ban but no Republican has yet formally opposed it. And since the GOP controls both chambers in Congress, there will be no movement on this issue until either GOP lawmakers are pressured into opposing the ban, or by the Democrats taking over leadership in Congress through the 2018 mid-term elections.

There are currently about two dozen Republican lawmakers whose districts voted for Hillary Clinton. These Republicans are the most likely ones to jump ship and oppose the ban.

Both pressuring GOP leaders to shift sides or shifting Congress to the Democrats are monumental tasks. There is no quick fix or shortcut. These goals can only be achieved through long-term, rigorous, disciplined organizing in our community. A solution may be found within a year, but it can also take eight years.

All major Congressional battles – whether healthcare, educational or immigration reform – have been decades long battles. None of them were predicated on a quick fix or a short cut. In all cases, Americans of all stripes organized for years to advance their cause. And often times, it was the most tenacious side that won.

For Iranian Americans, there is no shortcut in staving off this threat. For our community to defend and retain its cultural identity, we have no choice but to dig in, organize, mobilize, and invest in the organizations fighting this battle with the same commitment we invest in our children’s education.

Anything less will ensure failure.



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17 comments

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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) Pinned comment
Let’s hope the U.S. courts and Congress will resist the ban, as we know majority of Americans think Trump’s visa ban is against American values.

Wishing all the best for the Iranian community in the U.S. and their fight against the injustices of Trump’s administration.

The Parsees in India are shackled by their own beliefs and archaic practices enforced by the fanatical priests. They also settled in Hong Kong and could have multiplied there but there are only 200 of them left. They are very good in two things, business enterprising and working diligently toward their own extinction.

The Parsees settled in different parts of India. This is the story of their first settlement:

“There they sought permission to settle from the local ruler, Jadi Rana. He asked for an account of their religion and laid down four pre-conditions before agreeing to grant them sanctuary: They should use only the local language, the women should adopt the local dress, they must put down their weapons and vow never to use them and, finally, their marriage ceremonies should be conducted only in the evening; the dastur agreed. In his account of their religion he emphasized the features that accorded with Hinduism, for instance, reverence for the sun and the moon, fire and water, and the cow. He also stressed that their women observed strict purity laws. In short, the settlement in India was written in the stars, their safe arrival was due to divine aid, and they were not asked to forsake any significant aspects of their religion; indeed Zoroastrianism shared much in common with that of the Hindus. Oral tradition relates that Jadi Rana felt apprehensive about granting sanctuary to people of such warrior-like appearance, but the priests convinced the king that they would be 'like sugar in a full cup of milk, adding sweetness but not causing it to overflow’ (a variant relates the placing of a gold ring in the cup of milk; see Axelrod). Tradition states that the Parsi affirmations of their religion were delivered in sixteen statements (Skt. ṡlokas; though the oldest manuscripts date from the 17th century; Qeṣṣa, tr., pp. 60-80). They emphasized the points where their religion was consistent with Hindu tradition, but some details do not reflect Hindu practice; for example, there was no reason why weddings should be held at night. It has, therefore, been plausibly argued (Eduljee, 1995, pp. 60-70) that these traditions seek to explain why certain Parsi practices have evolved by imbuing them with an aura of historical legitimacy and authority, harking back to the covenant reached with the Hindu ruler when they first settled in India.”

Let’s not blame the Indians cast system. Many Parsees have tried to intermarry outside their community, not just to Indians but to whoever they are attracted to. It is a common knowledge that they are not allowed to, unless they leave the community.

Many enlightened Parsees have realised they are on the endangered list unless they do something
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iraj iraj (@iraj) Pinned comment
Suffice to say they don't want any Iranian babies. White European stock of human race has found itself in deep shit as a result of his greedy actions in Africa and Middle East, people who happen to be mostly Muslim.
They took all they could and not much is left but dustruction, war and a flood of refugees.
How do you like it now?
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Siavash Siavash (@Siavash) replied to iraj (@iraj) Pinned comment
No Iraj Khan,
The problem started when bunch of Islamic thieves and thugs took over Iran in 1979.
Before that we were well respected around the world. Even in the most racist society such as South Africa during Apartheid, we were enjoying all privileges equal to European counterparts. Indians, pakistani.... etc couldn't go to downtown area after 6 p.m in South Africa during Apartheid, but anyone with Shahanshahi passport could travel anywhere in those days.
Similar to Iranians was the case for Japanese. Any Asian with Japanese passport could travel anywhere after 6 pm in South Africa in those days. Japanese also received full privilege of white European counterpart because of smart leadership of emperor Hirohito. He and shah of Iran modernized their countries.
The problem is NOT Iranians or Iranians race, which is offshoot of Aryan. The problem is thieve and Islamic thugs who is running the country at present time. Get smart Iraj khan and see the reality.

GOAL : RESTORING MONARCHY
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iraj iraj (@iraj) replied to Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
In order to restore and bring monarchy back to life one would need The Jesus Christ to do it, but he himself has been dead too.
I hope you learned a few things by Parsi's analysis of this moment of our existance in the Unted States.
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Siavash Siavash (@Siavash) replied to iraj (@iraj) Pinned comment
I learned Iraj Khan that this guy is backstabbing not only Iranians, he is backstabbing his own Parsi people.
As we see from his name Parsi is Zoroastrian name. He selling out Iran to criminal mullahs In exchange for some $$$$. He works deligently to keep thieves and Islamic thugs on power by make them to get close to America. Everything goes to normal but Mullahs stay on power.
Needless to say these Mullahs are the same Mullahs who kicked his ancestors out of Persia. Poor people forced to run to India and settle there for many centuries. The remaining Zoroastrian suffered a lot under tyranny of mullahs for many centuries. They had been labeled Manhoos or Najees , means dirty by Mullahs. The Zoroastrian who remained in Persia have had to pay high taxes (jazeyeh) to new muslim rulers. Parsi's people suffered from criminal mullahs more than any average Persian. In Farsi terminology, we call such a person treason or KHAEN. He backstabbed his own people.
Now, as far as our dear Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi taking the office, I have to say that is right path to follow. If anyone wants Iran progress. If anyone wants to see Iran as a modern society similar to Europe and America, Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi is an answer. No communists or Islamists can bring dignity and pride we used to have during shah days except Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi. Now, you're saying it is NOT possible. That might be the case. In another word, you're saying that Iranians should suffer more and more and there is no hope for them to be happy again. You may be right. who knows.
The is a right way and there is a wrong way. If people want the right way , it is Reza Pahlavi. If they want wrong way, it is MEK or communism or any other alternative that might be. But the bottomline is the Mullahs have got to go.
You may wonder why they have to go
. It may appear everything okay in your eyes because you're living in U.S and doesn't know anything about pain and suffering of Iranians inside Iran.
Iraj Khan, I don't know your religion background, but I was born and raised in religious Shia family. I know exactly the feeling and Idea of the Islamic scholars toward life, death and politic. I used to dispense cube sugar and tea in our local mosque during my childhood, so I am well familiar to what they're saying and viewing the life. Their idea is doom to fail because It doesn't match to norm of modern world.
Islamic monsters are issue for modern world. They're trouble makers with a lots of inferiority complex toward modernization and progress. That inferiority complex exploded in 1979. As a result, they reached power and they're NOT going to give it up easily. We all know it. They have totally different prospective about politic and life in general. They have got to go. Sooner is better because it ends suffering of Iranians sooner. If they stay longer, only people suffer more.
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iraj iraj (@iraj) replied to Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
2 points, second one first:
when Trita Parsi speaks I listen.
Two: Did you read and understood what he said? He's speaking on your behalf, he is defending your rights as an immigrant, your rights as it's written in the US constitution. I'm also defending my rights as a member of human race to be able to travel freely.
How hard is it to understand?
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Siavash Siavash (@Siavash) replied to iraj (@iraj) Pinned comment
Yes, I did.
Now , did you understand what I said.?
I talked about "cause" and "effect".
In simple language A cause B, not the other way around.
Ruling criminal mullahs in Iran created this situation for Iranians during last 38 years, NOT Americans government. How hard is it to understand. ?
it is like a person who is dying of cancerous tumor. As a result of cancer tumor the patient's face is getting pale and pale on daily basis. Then someone like Trita Parsi wants to put powder on the patient's face to heal the illness. By putting powder, he think he can heal the illness because patient's face look healthy by powder.
That doesn't work my dear.
We have to cure the root of the illness, NOT appearance.
Putting power is NOT remedy. Putting power cover the pale on the face, but it doesn't cure the illness. The remedy is to remove the cancerous tumor completely. Now you tell me how hard is it to understand. ?

MULLAHS HAVE GOT TO GO. Then we can travel freely even to Iran. Many people are not able to see their motherland because of criminal mullahs. Once Mullahs get toppled, many Iranians can travel freely to their mother land.
I am also defending my right as a citizen of Iran. I am NOT American, I am Iranian. Iran is my country, NOT America. Americans should defend their rights, NOT me. Iranians should defend their rights in their own home country.
My right had been violated since a bunch of thieves and Islamic murderers took power in Iran. What about my right.? Who supposed to defend my right, if I don't do it ? My right as a Iranians citizen. Iranians' woman right were violated then they were beaten up by Khameni's armed forces during June of 2009. Who defend their rights ? How about the right of Neda Agha Sultan. Who is defending her rights ? How about thousands of Iranians who were brutally tortured, killed and were buried in the middle of nights under Unmarked mass graves ? who is defending their rights ? How about virgin girls who were raped the night before execution. Who defend their rights ?
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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) replied to Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
Monarchist Terrorist cult has a long history of unleashing violence on Iranian people, from burning alive politcal prisoners in their cells (Karimpour Shirazi,..) to execution of opponent and torturing of dissenters.
Fortunately treacherous monarchist can't burn people alive anymore, execute or torture Iranian people.
So what's the next best thing for them: pushing for sanctions and wars on Iran and dancing like little wild, deranged monkeys (which they are) in favor of the ban (which has been challenged in every possible form) but these little monkeys are still dancing for their masters.
Is it a wonder why donkeys and dogs in Iran are paid more attention to and have more respect and utility than criminal monarchist cult.
BTW looks like the welfare check collecting leeches of London have also forgotten how to read Persian, they just can't read the link below:
سلطنت طلبان شاهزاده رضا پهلوی را با بیانیه ای خلع ید کردند
nitv.news/featured/%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A7-%D9%BE%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%A7/

And for good measure take this one too
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) Pinned comment
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Siavash Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
TO PEOPLE OF IRAN
AS LONG AS THIEVES AND ISLAMIC THUGS ARE ON POWER IN IRAN, IRANIANS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF IRAN WILL SUFFER.
THE SOLUTION IS TO TOPPLE RULING CRIMINAL MULLAHS AND FREE IRAN FROM THE BLOODY HANDS OF CRIMINAL MULLAHS.
THE UNITY OF ALL OF THE DEMOCRATIC AND NATIONALIST FORCES ARE NECESSARY TO OVERTHROWN ISLAMIC CRIMINAL GANG WHO OCCUPIED IRAN'S GOVERNMENT AND PARLIAMENT.
WE DID NOT HAVE ANY PROBLEM IN TERMS OF VISA... ETC DURING SHAH DAYS, NOR ARE WE GOING TO HAVE ANY PROBLEM WHEN SHAHZADEH REZA PAHLAVI TAKES THE OFFICE. HAPPINESS WILL COME BACK TO OUR COUNTRY AND WE GAIN OUR RESPECT BACK. AS FAR AS MULLAHS AND THEIR PAID AGENTS SUCH AS CYBER BASEEJI AND MULLAHS' LOBBY IN WASHINGTON D.C THE INTERNATIONAL CRIME COURT (I.C.C) IS WAITING FOR THEM.

GOAL : RESTORING MOANRCHY
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iraj iraj (@iraj) replied to Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
Frozen in time,
The only growth that could be detected is the size of his belly and nose.
Even he doesn't believe what he's saying about his 'royal come back to Iran', talking about Reza Pahlavi.
Turn off the sound and look at his facial expression while he's elaborating on his plan to lead 'the movement'
How could others believe him?
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Siavash Siavash (@Siavash) replied to iraj (@iraj) Pinned comment
Are you enemy of Iranians ?
" Frozen in time " Which time ? you mean time of happiness.?
Don't you want to see Iranians are happy again to celebrate, dance, drink and live like normal human being without being lashed, stone and all those Islamic nonsense ?
Iraj khan, I am NOT sure about your nationality. I am not even sure that you're Shia, but we Iranians have had a great time when our shahanshah was on power. That is our right to be happy again.
Is Iranian's suffering, inside and outside Iran, makes you happy. ?
As long as these Islamic criminal occupied Iran's government and parliament, Iranians will suffer. Don't even think the other way around. If you saw Cuba turned around toward U.S, it is another story. Cuba have had scholar who were educated in Moscow university. They were NOT religious. Cuba ending won't apply to Iran and Mullahs. Iranians experience pain and agony day by day. Just take a look at past 38 years. Everyday there is something against Iran as a nation. We want to end that agony. Enough is enough.
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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) replied to Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
Monarchist terrorists pushing for a restoration of SAVAK torture chambers, dancing like little wild, demented monkeys for their masters pushing for more repression and fascism, have made it very obvious which side they're on.
But we all know they're actually nothing but rabid dogs.
Also a matter of public knowledge is the fact they're (Palizy) all nothing but welfare queens, receiving their monthly welfare check installment for years now.
Besides traits of rabid dogs and wild monkeys these monarchist terrorists often act and behave like stupid jack asses they really are.
Yet in Iran dogs, monkeys and donkeys are paid more attention to, are more respected and have more utility than these douche bags.
Deep down these monarchist terrorists are a bit demented, depraved and degenerated, so much so they've even forgotten how to read Persian, they can't even read this short piece!
سلطنت طلبان شاهزاده رضا پهلوی را با بیانیه ای خلع ید کردند
nitv.news/featured/%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A7-%D9%BE%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%A7/

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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) replied to Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
It's not too hard to keep repeating like a broken record a desire to revive SAVAK torture centers in Iran, but reality is another story.
Does the article below look familiar?
سلطنت طلبان شاهزاده رضا پهلوی را با بیانیه ای خلع ید کردند
nitv.news/featured/%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A7-%D9%BE%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%A7/
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Siavash Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
"Is Donald Trump’s Muslim ban an existential threat to the Iranian-American community,"
Trita parsi

No, it is threat to ruling criminal mullahs in Iran. That is the fist step toward that goal. Islam is a political ideology like a communism, fascism.....etc. Iranians were NOT aware of that political ideology and didn't know how to deal with it when it came to picture back in 1970's. They perceived Islam as a religion and the good one. That led the country to destruction, misery and poverty
Now, the westerners are involved in that political wave.
I am sure they will take care of the issue.
The next step is Hassan Dai is coming after you.

MULLAH HAVE GOT TO GO
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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) replied to Siavash (@Siavash) Pinned comment
Actually your clown 'king' which in fact was the biggest terrorist in Iran from 1953 to 1979, was directly responsible for rise of most reactionary type of Islam in Iran.
That clown was intimately and centrally involved and responsible for promotion and augmentation of the most conservative, backward, really awful (douche-bag, scum) types of Islam.
SAVAK initiated and sponsored Hojatieh Society, unleashing conservative Islamic monsters on our society.
The only issue Westerners have taken care of so far is making sure London residing monarchist rabid dog (Palizy) receive monthly welfare check.
BTW take a look at how the clown is kissing Kashani's upper cheeks.
There are also pictures of shah kissing Kashani's 'lower cheeks.'


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