One interesting phenomenon about the current “cold-war” with Iran, is that unlike the cold-war with the Soviet Union, Americans not only have animosity towards Iran and its government, but also against Iranians. Russians in the U.S. were never vilified the way Iranian-Americans are being vilified.
There is widespread Anti-Iranian sentiment in the U.S. This also sometimes known as Anti-Persian sentiment, Persophobia, or Iranophobia refers to feelings and expression of hostility, hatred, discrimination, or prejudice towards Iran (Persia) and its culture, and towards persons based on their association with Iran and Iranian culture.
According to the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian-Americans (PAAIA), nearly half of Iranian Americans surveyed in 2008 by Zogby International have themselves experienced or personally know another Iranian American who has experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity or country of origin. The most common types of discrimination reported are airport security, social discrimination, employment or business discrimination, racial profiling and discrimination at the hands of immigration officials.
Most recently, Donald Trump leveraged wide-spread anti-Iranian and anti-Muslim hatred to gain votes in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Once in power, he instituted a travel ban against Iranians, no not just Iran’s government officials, but ordinary Iranians. I know of several Iranians who work in the U.S. who are separated from close family members – like for example their wives – because of this travel ban.
This animosity has taken strange complexions with for example Paypal denying any domestic payments with any reference to Iran or Persia! Billed as a ‘compliance’ measure, it simply smells like another expression of anti-Iranianism.
To drive the point home, I’ve observed almost comic scenes where Iranians introduce themselves with Americanized names (Mohamed becomes Mo or Saman becomes Sam, and Kambiz becomes Kam), or… wait for it … officially changing their last names to more western sounding surnames! And I have stood next to Iranians introducing themselves as Italians! Totally embarrassed to show any associations with Iran. Why is that?
There has been a barrage of anti-Iranian (not just anti-Mullah) depictions in big budget Hollywood movies since the 1980’s. Films like 300, Not Without My Daughter, Argo…! Television programs such as 24, John Doe, On Wings of Eagles, Escape from Iran to name a few. The movie industry persistently misrepresents Iranians and the collective identity of Iranians.
I read a recent excerpt from a book called Limits of Whiteness. Where Roya, an Iranian American high school student, is asked to identify her race, and she felt anxiety and doubt. The US federal government officially classifies Iranian-Americans as “White”. Iranians too to be the “original” white race (since the term Iran is actually a derivative of the term “Aryan” i.e. Iranians are the original Aryans). But based on the treatment Roya and her family have received in American schools, airports, workplaces, and neighborhoods—interactions characterized by intolerance or hate—Roya is increasingly certain that she is not white – and quips – Iranian-Americans have a shifting racial status and have now transformed to being “Black” i.e. African-Americans in the eyes of white “European-Americans”! This would be comic – if it wasn’t true.
In a Kansas bar shooting recently, the life of one man of Indian descent was taken and two others were seriously injured by an assailant who allegedly declared his intention to shoot “Iranians.” He had reportedly told the two Indian men he was targeting, who he thought were Iranian, “Get out of my country,” before he opened fire.
In another incident, an Iranian American woman reported vandalism outside her San Francisco apartment in the form of spray-painted swastikas and reference to the infamous Nazi doctor, Mengele, known as the “Angel of death.”
These and other incidents are part of a larger pattern of recent hate crimes against actual or perceived Muslims in the U.S., such as “obscene and hateful graffiti” on the outside walls of an Islamic Center (the Tarbiya Institute) in Roseville, California; or a fire set to a mosque in Victoria, Texas.
Several polls confirm wide-spread disdain against Iranians. Here is one recent poll from BBC’s world service.
|Results of 2017 BBC World Service poll.Views of Iran’s influence by country|
And there is a poll taken by the Pew Research center showing less than 15 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Iran (dropping 10 points in the past 10 years).
Some of this can be explained by confusion post 9/11. But mainstream American media is playing along with all this, and has created the following critical associations:
Islam = the promotion of violence.
Muslims = violent people with dusty faces always running around the desert.
The Middle East = a place full of violent people with dusty faces always running around the desert, plus women shrouded in what appear to be blankets.
Everywhere you look, it’s very clear that “The Iranian hostage crisis of the US embassy in Tehran in November 1979” that marks the beginning of this wave of anti-Iranian sentiment in the United States, against the new Islamic regime – but also against Iranian nationals and immigrants. But what is interesting is that this sentiment has not declined.
There is a barrage of not just Anti-Iranian Government ‘propaganda’ but also anti-Iranian and anti-Iranian-American propaganda in force. This is systematic and it is getting worse.
There are other clues about what is happening when you read official literature spewed out by very important and influential lobbying groups like AIPAC (American-Israel Political Action Committee). A graphic on AIPAC’s website says it all – it references the ‘regime in Tehran’, but then conflates the regime with broader anti-Iranian sentiment.
I have also noted that the Christian right movement, and Trump especially, keep lying about Iran … saying Obama funded Iran’s military by giving Iran $150 Billion dollars as part of a bad Nuclear Agreement… Both Israeli Americans and Trumptards are also conflating everything and the outcome is Iranians can’t get visas to the United States!
Historically, prejudice against Iranians (more specifically ethnic Persians) was prominent in the Arab World, particularly on the part of some Arabs following the Arab invasion of Iran. Arabs hate Iranians (I am not sure why).
Iran-phobia is now widespread in the West, especially the U.S.
The irony of the situation is that if you take every ‘reason’ why Americans hate Iran and Iranians (even Iranian-Americans) one-by-one, I could debunk almost every reason. I intend to write about each of these reasons separately, in new blogs, but it’s very clear that Americans are being manipulated politically against their best interests and instincts.
The net outcome of all this will be enduring hatred, polarization and ultimately a complete re-alignment of global power with Iran as the pivot point. There simply can be no rapprochement. This is not good. And it is not right. And not in the long-term interests of the U.S. nor Iran nor (by the way) Israel nor Iran’s neighbors! Everyone is limiting Iranian immigration and spending billions on an arms race to fend off “Iran” whose total defense budget is less than the cost of an aircraft carrier. This is all strangely comic … but true!