American Iranians should all vote for Mitt Romney. Most of them live as avid capitalists anyway, and naturally express conservative values in their lives. So why are most of them Democrats?
Perhaps is has to do with Persian history. It is an imperial people, the Iranians. The average Iranian in America has a scope of vision beyond what most Americans ever consider. It is as if the inspiration of their ancient Persian soul is unleashed in the freedom of Western society. To the Iranian of the diaspora (i.e., those living outside Iran in free countries), the word “democracy” is the one word that says it all. Freedom, responsibility, and love of life.
Unfortunately, in America the word democracy is also associated naturally with the Democrat Party. The average Iranian does not acknowledge a difference between the liberalism of the Democrat Party and the real meaning of democracy. Liberalism and the Democrat Party are the opposite of freedom. They present only the theory of coerced equality, and a materialistic equality at that. The Democrat Party represents Communism, pure and simple. But for most Iranians, “Democrat” is only how they think, but not how they live.
Communism is the link between many Iranians in the modern, Western world. If they don’t see Communism as a bad thing, it is, again, because of their cultural history. In this case, it is more modern history which provides the answer.
Dr. Hossein Sadeghi, renowned (retired) heart surgeon.
Like many countries in Central Asia and in the Middle East, monarchy was the only form of government Iranians ever knew. Certainly in recent centuries, monarchies of the East devolved into tyrannies, and often overtly cruel tyrannies. Unfortunately, the first alternative these countries ever knew was Communism. Communism, as it always does, promises a healthy deliverance from oppression and a sparkling equality of material wealth. Communism’s delusive theories sound messianic to those who are oppressed, abused, and without hope. Russia and China aggressively overthrew and usurped governments which did not have the power to resist, and thus, in the name of self-preservation (presumably), the United States was brought into world conflicts, lest the Communists turn the entire world against America.
To this day, many people in the Middle East and Central Asia associate the word “democracy” with Communism. It is like a cultural “first love,” and unforgettable first girl friend. The “democracy” was usurped from the day Communism entered the east.
When I was in Iran (Masshad) in November of 1999, I remember having dinner with a large group of dignitaries in a beautiful hotel. Among the guests was world famous heart surgeon Hossein Sadeghi¹ (who flew in from his home in Switzerland). He was quite the literary luminary, as well. After dinner, we talked a bit. I remember a remark he made, wistfully: “Isn’t is a shame that a country cannot excel without depriving another country. Success is always at the expense of another.”
I didn’t respond directly, but, inside, I thought, “Pure Marxism.” Profit is unpaid labor. The pith of Communist theory. At the time, I could not account for this thinking in the mind of a fabulously successful surgeon, literary authority, and obviously loving, caring human being.
Since that time, I have met so many other Iranians who are so very brilliant, successful, and Democrat, that I have had to seek an understanding. I can only speculate that it is an abiding contradiction, some lingering, haunting ghost of Communism which they have inherited from the late 19th and early 20th century, when Russian-based communism rose up against the last shahs of the Qajar Dynasty. From old monarchy, to Communism, to Islam. Tyranny is Tehran, as it were.
Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah Qajar, Shah of Persia 1896-1907.
In the free West, however, something like Persian Heritage Magazine can flourish. This magazine, the largest, most widely circulated in the America, was created also by another doctor and literary intelligentsia, as well as a brilliant social commentator, Dr. Shahrohk Ahkami. Dr. Ahkami is very careful in how he addresses American political issues, as well as issues that concern Iranians everywhere in the world. Yet, I don’t know that we can call Persian Heritage liberal, or Democrat, or even always politically correct. It’s the Persian Gulf, not the Arabian Gulf! So say many articles in the magazine.
Dr. Shahrohk Ahkami, in a monthly Persian Heritage YouTube post.
Dr. Ahkami in fact interviewed Dr. Sadeghi in 2000 (Persian Heritage (No. 19, Fall). But, Persian Heritage also interviewed America’s First Lady Laura Bush in 2002 (Vol. 7, No. 28, Winter), and the President of the United States, George W. Bush in 2008 (Vol. 13, No.50, Summer). We can’t call that a plug for the Democrat Party now, can we? To my knowledge (which isn’t complete by any means) Persian Heritage has never interviewed the Obamas, or any major Democrat political figure.
Maybe Iranian doctors, like all doctors, realize that Obamacare is bad news. Maybe they understand that democracy is based on free enterprise, and not Communist materialistic equality.
Although I am on the editorial board of Persian Heritage Magazine, I do not speak for the magazine, nor certainly for Dr. Ahkami (whom I admire immensely, as I do so many Iranians). I can only observe what I have observed. I have not discussed the matter of Communism, true democracy, or the Republican Party with Dr. Ahkami. I know that he has been astute and adroit in his management of political issues. He has to be, certainly. Yet, the popularity of the magazine, regardless of any political issues discussed therein, only demonstrates the objective rationality of the editor, Dr. Ahkami.
I have to say, I interviewed the notable Cyrus Nowrasteh, the screen writer and director who made “The Path to 9-11,” a very controversial film about the events that led to the Muslim attack on the United States. Nowrasteh is quite talented, and it was a privilege to provide such an interview for Persian Heritage Magazine (Spring 2007 Vol. 12 No. 45, pp. 56-58). That certainly wasn’t a plug for Democrats, either.
I encourage American Iranians to reconsider their political orientations. The Democrat Party doesn’t really stand for the values most Iranians live for. Iranians are intensely independent, self-sustaining, and madly industrious. There is not another immigrant group like them in modern American history. They are elite, brilliant, productive contributors to American society at generally very high levels. They needn’t participate in the “white guilt” complex generated by anti-American liberal Democrats. They needn’t participate in some obligatory blame of the West. They have earned every nickle of their success here, and they are under no obligation to give it away to those who are not successful. There is no virtue in such an approach to society.
At best, “equality” refers only to opportunity, not economic outcome. And the objective, rational fact is, there is no such thing as equal opportunity. That is a political theory, with a trumped up moral imperative designed to counter the liberal Democrat aggressions for economic tyranny. The Republicans error in making political slogans (like “equal opportunity”) out of reactionary exigencies.
Charity is meaningful and most effective only when private, not coerced by the government. And, I might add, Jesus himself said (quoting Moses, Deuteronomy 15:11), “Ye have the poor always with you” (Matthew 26:11). In other words, the world cannot be rid of poverty. To act on such a purpose is worse than Christian feminism which seeks to restore some fantasy gender equality in the fallen state of sin (Genesis 3:16).
I will say, Iranians are good at revamping things, and improving them. It is an ancient Persian trade mark. So let the American Iranians ‘touch up and detail’ the Republican Party!
¹Dr. Hossein Sadeghi is retired at CHUV, University of Lausanne, as stated by a relative, Javad Sadeghi.
Iranian Society of Cardiac Surgeons
Scientific Information Database
First Robotic Heart Surgery in Iran.
Dr. Shahrohk Ahkami, monthly YouTube posts for Persian Heritage Magaine.
Persian Heritage FaceBook
Persian Heritage Magazine.