After the tragic events of September 11th, an unbelievable shift happened to the people of United States. The outpouring of compassion, care and love for the victims brought people together like never before. First responders from all over the country drove thousands of miles to provide emotional and physical support to the heroes of NYC. What struck me those days and weeks after that dark Tuesday was how all of us, as a united people, realized that these actions were taken by a few zealots and were by no means a representation of all Muslims. Subsequently, we did not marginalize all Muslims based upon the action of terrorists. Yet, then and now, there are those who migrated here, have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the privileges and safety of the United States, but promote hate and racism, feelings and actions that do not belong in our country.
Just a few short weeks after the horrible attacks on September 11th, my mother shared this story with me. A dear friend of hers was invited to a gathering of couples in New Jersey, a group consisting of Muslim Iranian doctors. In attendance, there were about 20 couples, who had been friends since their college and medical school days in the United States. As it would happen, the conversation took a turn towards the unbelievable, heartbreaking, and dramatic events of September 11th. To the utter astonishment of our friend, the men poured their gin and tonics and proceeded to cheer the events. She told of the men who were drinking and laughing, while giving high praise for the events that had taken place. “Here is to our boys!” they said. “They set their minds to something and did it. Who would have thought they had it within them to pull it off!” Our dear friend, a Jewish-Iranian doctor, disgusted, excused herself and left the gathering.
At the time, I could not imagine how people – educated, successful people – who have built homes, lives and successful careers in a safe place, could be so glad in the face of other people’s suffering, pain, and loss. These couples all left Iran shortly after the revolution, were educated in the best colleges and medical schools in the county, now live privileged lives and want for nothing. How could they turn their backs on a country that had provided them with so much?
To my dismay, 20 years later the prejudice and hate still exists.
Recently, Farhad Khorasani, a Muslim Iranian American-educated lawyer, has made waves promulgating his feelings about the existence of Israel. He said “The Jew anywhere is an existential threat to Aryans, Muslims, and Iranians everywhere. Hitler has proved that he knew these terrorist Semites very well. Hitler was right, we need a new Hitler.”
These chilling and hateful words received instant backlash from Jewish groups everywhere, but this backlash failed to encourage Mr. Khorasani to retract his comments. He, in fact, went one step further to demand “calling out Zionists for their crimes against humanity” and outrage against, “the ongoing holocaust of six million Palestinians at the hands of genocidal Israeli government”.
If something seems a bit off here, it’s because it is. Mr. Khorasani is by no means an Aryan in the traditional blue eyed, blond-hair way.
A quick history lesson might shed some light on this. In 1936, Reza Shah Pahlavi (the father of the Mohammad Reza Pahlavi b1919-d1980, the last monarch of Iran prior to being overthrown by the followers of Ayatollah Khomeini) had a deep bond with Hitler. Reza Shah was determined to make it known to the world that his people were different than the Arabs or Jews in the Middle East. In 1935, he issued a proclamation to the League of Nations stating that the country of Persia would be known as Iran, a throwback to the country’s history and ancient roots, and would now be recognized as “Home of the Aryans”. Immediately, the German chancellor, Hitler, placed his seal of approval on the name, and labeled Persians as Aryans, ”natural born Germans”, exempting the country from restrictions of the Nuremberg Racial Laws on the grounds that they were pure Aryans. These laws set by the Nazi party in 1935 were both antisemitic and racist in nature, and eventually lead to the murder of 6 million Jews and 5 million gypsies, gays, Polish and disabled people.
Mr. Khorasani is on a similar mission, one that not only includes plans of wiping Israel off the map, but one that is filled with hatred for The United States of America. He is one of many on the mission to separate the state of California from the American map. He and his allies are working hard to create a distinct culture, vastly different than that of the greater American one. Mr. Khorasani’s wish is to solidify the state’s already detached culture by creating what he refers to as The Republic of California. He and his allies have bestowed much praise on Governor Newsom for his policies to create a California that is distinct and oddly different than the greater American culture. The fact that children in many schools no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, is just one example of such tactics to move California further away from the nation. Additionally, universities have accepted donations from hate groups and have professors, responsible for educating our children, who promote this.
In podcasts and videos pitched to the citizens of Iran, Mr. Khorasani promises the Iranian people that a newly established Republic of California would establish bilateral relations with Iran, no questions asked, and no demands made. The new republic would support Iran’s uranium development and work together with Iran on the matters concerning the problem that they perceive as Israel.
As an Iranian, I am traumatized by the words and hateful sentiments of Mr. Khorasani. He preaches for a California that would be based on intercultural inclusion and a diverse community, but all I hear are hateful words about Jews, Israel and the United States. His words and determinations remind me of the spirited words of the Mullahs in Iran, and their passionate speeches about the Evil that existed in America and Israel.
Every November In Iran, the country has celebrated its independence from the Shah and thousands of people have marched in the streets, their fists high, chanting, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Mr. Khorasani’s words are equivalent to these slogans that I grew up with and shuddered away from.
While the issue of Iran and its mission is frequently news, it frightens me that a tiny Iran would be built right next door – in California. Mr. Khorasani talks of building bridges, but his only goal is to separate his state from the great American values and rich history.
What amazes me even more is how one comes to hate the country in which they live and thrive. Like the men in my earlier anecdote, Mr. Khorasani would cheer at the failures of the American government. As a child I was taught to never slap the hands that feed you…Farhad Khorasani never learned that lesson.
Mr. Khorasani and his allies are all full of hate and should be called out for the racist people that they truly are. It is unfortunate the California Bar Association, on the basis of freedom of speech, declined to disbar this hateful man. But to me, all I heard was hateful speech, which should have no place in our country.
History teaches us that we do not learn from history. From Ayatollah Khomeini, to the 9/11 attacks and now Farhad Khorasani – racism continues, and we must work to stop it. For all people. And on all levels.