Zereshk & Visa Entry Reform Act 

by: Farrokh Ashtiani

With many thanks to Mr. Ashtiani


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We are told that there are two sides to every story. Just a few days ago the Senate passed the Resolution on Visa Entry Reform and the solid votes of 97-0 and that is only because the other 3 Senators were gone to bathroom when the votes were taken otherwise it would have been a landslide of 100-0. This vote prohibits visitors from certain countries to enter to the US for possible importation of “terrorism.” Iran, N. Korea, Syria, and Libya are the bad apples named as the rouge countries.

If you ask me, the only case of terrorism any Iranian has committed in this country since the day pioneers arrived has had to do with scaring people on Halloween nights by wearing scary masks of those like Margaret Thatcher, Richard Nixon and the Ayatollah. Beyond that, everyone more or less agrees that Iranians are the most amiable, friendly, gregarious, hospitable and educated among all ethnic groups in this country and we love them all.

We know that Iraq hasn’t had any tourist to the US for the past 10 years. Nor did North Korea or Libya. How in the world can anyone in those countries afford to travel to this country? Oh sorry unless they are sent by Al Quayda! Ok, I sometimes forget to think the way CNN wants me to think.

We do have our shortcomings too. We as a nation must look at all issues from at least 4 different dimension, all of them cynical and loaded with conspiracy theories or else we will not be satisfied. At least this is a lesson we were taught throughout our history and I’ll be damned it works every time! We don’t trust anyone unless proven he is a saint.

One dimension could be a conspiracy of the Islamic Republic itself, begging the US politicians not to allow Iranians to travel to the US. By such ban Iran will save tons and tons of  “Zereshk” , “aloo Bokhara” , “Lavashak” , “vajebee” and of course “noghle yaas” and other food items. Iran will be able to prevent flow of its major products out of the country and have it available for domestic consumption. In fact there is such scarcity or lack of affordability that in a recent political suicide a man consumed half gallon of Vajebee in his prison cell to relieve his soul from his injured conscience. If he had access to better condiments I am sure he would have chosen other alternatives over “Vajebee.”

As for the Senate Visa Resolution, we all should feel responsible to some degree and in one way or another. For example, we keep asking everyone who comes from Iran or travels to Iran:

          “toro khoda Zafaroon yadetoon nareh beearin”
          “Zereshkeh bee-dom yeadetoon nareh”  
          “Sohaneh ghom beearin, maleh inja hamash ashghaleh” 
          “sareh jaddet yek-khoordeh kateera ham beeareen, tamameh mooham      reekht” 

And they do keep bringing them no matter if Iran is in the midst of a British-staged Revolution, or Anglo-American-made war with Iraq or domestic unrest, the flow of Zereshk to the West must continue uninterrupted or fellow Iranian compatriots will be terminally homesick or they will end up paying high local prices at the ethnic grocery stores.

What we don’t realize is that with all the amenities and abundance of food that we have in this country we are still trying to rip the poor people of Iran and deprive them from what they grow for their own consumption. That country sells cheap oil and gas, and even cheaper hand-made rugs to feed 65 millions. So the ban on issuing entry visa to at least Iranians has perhaps nothing to do with terror. This is a reality that Bush knows it, Queen knows it and so does the Ayatollah that we are not a nation of terrorists. We are one of the most intelligent nations in the world and our intelligence and advance culture has been an envy of the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, British (more than all others combined), and now the US perhaps.

Please excuse the juxtaposition, but simply because someone calls you an SOB it doesn’t mean that you should become defensive or feel guilty about it. Our problem is not that we are a terrorist nation; it’s rather a much larger problem:

Many of us as Iranians are so focused on trivial and non-issues such as a ban of a visa for our aunts or father-in-laws, but we ignore the fact that our much important problem in hand is lack of a VOICE and a tribune. And every time someone attempts to establish a tribune to unite us, our fantastic cynical radar triangulates and we label them as Ex-Savakee, Taghootee, Mojahed, Monafegh, Islamic, Dollareh-haft-toamnee, and any other adjective that would convince us to stay away from participation and instead just go to a chelokababee, which is a much safer tribune and the safest way to meet a compatriot in an arm length transaction.

These are the days that Iranians as culture are once again being tested for the next round of interferences in their motherland:

  • How do we react if they don’t give our parents a visa?
  • What if they ban importation of Zereshk to the US?

How will we react if:

  • They close or monitor Persian Gulf oil traffic and curtail exportation of oil by certain “evil states” while the angel-faced Russians may go as low as $6.50 a barrel and practically make OPEC obsolete and all Arabs end up moving to London.
  • Instigate the bordering countries with Iran to interfere with our domestic affairs in the presence of a weak government.
  • Increase domestic usage of opium in Iran by 50% to further curb any diversion from Sufism and to assure the focus on Shams Tabrizee instead of following the footsteps of Amir Kabir. You can always be a great Sufi even if you are lying down parallel to the ground, but if you want to follow Amir Kabir you need to get up and be heard and that is too much to ask, especially under the influence of opium.

All such tests can be a precursor for what are being calculated and analyzed in the political laboratories of industrial nations. Unlike the governments such as Iran’s and Saudi’s that have absolutely no plan for the next 5 years beyond their belly buttons, the industrial nations like the US and the British are setting up plans for the next 100 years and 200 years. The small tests that go on now are little experimentation in ongoing politics, and we are all being subjected involuntarily one way or another to participate as guinea pigs.

If we as a largely-educated population of hardworking Iranians who have earned US citizenship by being creative, productive and great contributors to the progress of this nation do not stand for our heritage rights and righteousness of our motherland just like any Irish would do for his or her country, then how can we blame if a quarter of century from now Iran indeed becomes what Shah warned us to fear “an Iranestan?”  The excuse then will be “to break apart a terrorist nation to smaller parts to better bring them under control.”

And in the absence of any Voice and Tribune, we the Iranians will have to continue yelling Zendeh Baad Mossadegh and mourn our heroes, for decades and decades. We still have not resolved the issue of Imam Hossein after 1400 years and have to open that chapter again and again every year. These are the domestic entertainments for a nation that is made to believe that it is incapable of assembling a VOICE even in the freest nation on earth.

Before worse things happen let’s forget about Zereshk and start establishing a united voice to represent a nation of righteous people. The United States Constitution has given us the rights to stand up for our native land and to defend the truth. The voice of the judge still resonates in my ears when I recall the day that I took the oath, years ago. He told all of us:

“Never forget where you came from and never deny or disrespect your motherland. You can never change your heritage. You can become great citizens”

God bless pioneers of the American Constitution to enable and endow to all of us the freedom to stand for all of our Rights including defending our heritage, free from libels and slanders including being called a Terrorist Nation. We know there is a despotic government in Iran but we are not a “terrorist Nation!” And that terrorist government was imposed upon us. You know it, I know it and they know it.