A Suggestion to U.S. Politicians, INS Officials, and People
Before I state the issue which I would like to discuss, for those who have not read my articles, to avoid any misunderstanding, let me first state in no uncertain terms, that I oppose Islamic Republic of Iran, and it is my earnest belief that the IRI religious apartheid should be replaced with a new secular democratic system in Iran, and I do not believe in any so-called Islamic Democracy patchwork of Mr. Khatami and the like.
Also I have no illusion about the so-called government reformists of Islamic Republic of Iran, and I fully know that these Islamist groups and parties have never stood up for the democratic rights of non-Islamic individuals, groups, and parties, to participate in the political process in Iran, whether at the time of presidential elections, or during the parliamentary elections, and that they have colluded with the mollahs in enforcing a religious apartheid system in Iran for 23 years, and I have no doubt that Iranian regime needs to be completely replaced, just like the Soviet and South African regimes.
Moreover, over the years, I have always opposed *unconditional* removal of sanctions against Islamic Republic of Iran, and have called for human rights *condition* tied to any lifting of sanctions against IRI. So it is obvious that why I am writing this note is not because of any sympathy for the Islamic Republic of Iran, or for Islamism, which I resent:
Secondly although the new security methods that I am addressing, have been used in Israel before, again my rejecting these methods, is not because of any anti-Israel position, as I am not someone who is in the habit of always attacking Israel. In fact, because of my article below, which I wrote some time ago, I was constantly attacked as being an Israel sympathizer:
So my critic of Israeli and U.S. immigration practices on the particular issue noted below is not because of being anti-U.S. or anti-Israel. On the contrary, I believe exactly these kinds of mistakes have made Israeli politicians hated, although as I have noted in my article above, I consider Israeli government as more democratic than all Arab countries of the Middle East, and I think if they become more considerate in their way of treating people of Middle Eastern origin, they can neutralize a lot of this resentment.
Nonetheless, I am the last to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and I think already Iranians of various political leanings are too involved on that issue, which hardly has anything to do with Iranians, and I hope that the Israeli and Palestinians find the way to peace and prosperity. The only reason I mentioned Israel here, is to note that such security measures of singling out people of certain origin, is done in Israel, and I believe this is a mistake of theirs that the U.S. should have learned to avoid, rather than to repeat, and cause resentment among the people with Iranian and Middle Eastern background.
So my suggestions below have nothing to do with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which I condemn for its violations of human rights of Iranians and non-Iranians, and I condemn for its terrorist activities all over the world, and as I have noted below, the terrorist activities of Islamists should be stopped:
Also my note has nothing to do with categorically opposing all fingerprinting. In fact, the U.S. has a regulation that fingerprints anybody who wants to get a Green Card or Citizenship, and nobody complains about it, because it is for *all* applicants for Green Card and Citizenship, and not just for those with a Middle Eastern origin. So if the U.S. went and decided that *all* visitors should have fingerprinting, as part of the process to apply for visitor's visa (or for any other type of visa for that matter), I would have no problem with it, and would fully support it, because it can help the safety of all who live in the U.S., *and* it would not be a discriminatory measure.
And those who say it would be very costly to do the process for all visitors are wrong, because in this day and age, a general rule like that, would be like the requirement of photos for passports, and it can all be easily automated as routine, whereas making decisions as to who has Middle Eastern or other origin, actually causes more red tape and is more costly, because it requires more personal evaluations to determine someone with a Canadian passport, as having an Arab or Iranian origin or not. Or what they already have faced in Los Angeles to exclude a mass of Armenians from being considered as with Middle Eastern origin or not. And what happens when we see terrorists from Indonesia, are the Indonesians next to be added to the countries of inquisitive origin?
Where do we stop with this and do we know what kind of a quagmire of bureaucracy and waste such mistaken regulations are causing. And as noted, more importantly, when a regulation only requires those with the Iranian or Middle Eastern origin to have address reporting requirement or be fingerprinted, it is outright discrimination, and it creates mistrust, resentment, and stereotyping.
In fact, discriminatory regulations that only target Iranians or Middle Easterners, help the mistrust which the Islamists like to sow between the people of Iran and Middle East on one hand and the people of the West on the other.
The current INS address reporting requirement of people with Iranian and Middle Eastern origin is the latest such discriminatory action which is only intimidating the Iranians, and other people of the Middle East, at a time when Iranian people are trying to get rid of IRI. and Islamism, and this action makes those with Iranian origin feel separate from the rest of Americans, rather than feel part of America, which is what they are. My suggestion is to make the requirements not based on country of origin but based on status of being a visitor, etc.
Frankly there are so many terrorists with countries of origin from other parts of the world that to really being able to use a security measure to cover all cases, it has to include all visitors, if it is going to be an effective measure.
United States is spending millions of dollars on radio programs, advertising, or political actions to gain the trust of Iranian people, and just one discrimination against an Iranian in the U.S., is enough to kill all the feelings of good will. The world is now closely interconnected and just as the terrorists are connected, and hit anywhere in the world, the good innocent people are also connected, and when somebody in Iran hears about discrimination against their cousin in the U.S., on the basis of having an Iranian origin, they lose their trust for America and what it stands for.
Also I am sure the astute American politicians can see another point here too. U.S. is not Europe and the continuous conflict of the U.S. and IRI means that politically in situations as the above, such discriminations by the U.S., automatically helps IRI to gather sympathy, by pretending to be on the "side" of Iranians or even Iranian-Americans, and as we know in all such cases IRI immediately condemned the discrimination against people with Iranian origins, and took retaliatory measures against American journalists, and thus used this situation politically to its advantage to gain the support of Iranian-Americans, and therefore any American politician who pushes such discriminatory measures, as ill-conceived security measures, is in fact helping the Islamists and Islamic Republic of Iran, albeit naively, which is surprising, when done by those American politicians and congresspersons, who have been around for a long time.
In Europe, the situation is different and because of the continuous relations of the European countries with IRI, similar actions by the European governments do not create sympathy for IRI. I can say that hundred percent the Iranians in the U.S. are a lot more sympathetic to the IRI than those in Europe, and I can say it has all been because of the errors of fingerprinting discrimination by US in the past, and now the INS address reporting requirement, and the IRI apologist and supporter groups have gained more and more support among Iranian-Americans, exactly because of these ill-mannered policies pushed by some uninformed American politicians, and the INS, who have initiated such discriminatory measures based on visitor's country of origin.
So to sum up, if such measures are needed security-wise, it is best to implement them for *all* visitors and not single out by country of origin, Iranians one day, Iraqis next, Saudis and Pakistanis after that, followed by Indonesians, etc. This is never-ending. If the country to show the next major terrorist, after Indonesia, to be U.K, will U.K. be added next to the list? This is a very meaningless way of handling security and only creates resentment for the U.S., among the people with Iranian or Middle Eastern origin.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
Dec 18, 2002