Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Own Country

Many immigrants chose to migrate to either Canada or the United States. No one forces these people to leave their homeland and settle in other countries. And I also recognize that so many people were forced to abandon their lives in their own countries of birth and settle in North America. The first group of people chose to do some thing on their own and the second league of people had no choice. All right, it's clear! I'm talking about the first group of immigrants who came to the US/Canada years ago just because they had money to invest here or they probably wanted to leave their countries of origins for reasons other than political activism or fear of prosecution.

A few days ago when I was boarding the airplane to come to Colorado, I happened to hear a conversation between the airline's ticket agent and an Iranian family. The daughter of the family was a naturalized citizen of the United States and the parents were, for sure, green card holders. Their final intended destination was Tehran through Milan, Italy. They presented their tickets, passports and all other necessary documents to be able to board the aircraft. The young lady also handed in her American passport. As you know, Iranian citizens need to obtain entry permits to be able to change their airplanes in European airports. Ticket agent asked the young Iranian girl if she had an entry Visa to get into Iran since the American citizens can not enter Iran without an Iranian government issued entry permit. The girl frowned and asked the clueless ticket agent loudly "Do I need a Visa to go to my own country"?

Ticket agent turned to her and asked if she had dual citizenship and the response was "absolutely yes".... Finally the Iranian-American family happily got their boarding passes and got on their way to go to "their OWN country".

I really wanted to yell at them and tell them that if you think Iran, the country you chose to leave on your own, is your OWN country. Then get the hell out of this place, give up your American citizenship/green card documents and go to your own country. America is your country and if you think it is not, then what are you doing here? Is it not just that you are getting a free ride in this society where you had no role in building it in the first place as well?

The whole point is that these people chose to come here and this is their country, they can very well be proud of their PAST but they can't call Iran, their own country, any more.

There's also another story where one of my best friends, an Iranian-Canadian, who works as a cashier in a big store Toronto got treated badly and got a weird look from a Jewish person when she said she is an Iranian. I am sure had she said she is a Canadian, or at least accepted to be a Canadian, then she wouldn't be treated harshly in the first place.

All I'm saying is that most of us chose freely to come here and we have to call here Our Own Country and forget the past. We can all be proud of our heritage but Canada and U.S are our countries and home. Please, remember that all of us have great and deep responsibilities to our new countries and we have to do our share!

Bottom line: You can't claim to be an Iranian while enjoying the benefits of a Canadian or American passport. Give that American/Canadian passport up if you want to remain Iranian.

15 comments:

Alexander said...

Very well said. I agree.

On the lighter side, perhaps you should start the trent by calling yourself "Canadian-Iranian." ;)

Winston said...

Agreed! ;-)

Anonymous said...

You are so naive! For your American friends it doesn't matter if you hold a US passport or a Canadian one (they even don't recognise Canadian citizenship, as in the case of Maher Arar they sent him to Syria), if you've been born in Iran, you are a potential terrorist.
And the next time when a white American/Canadian asks you where are you from, and you tell them "America" or "Canada", look at their faces and see how seriously they take your answer!

Louise said...

Well said, Winston.

Anonymous, the young woman at the airline ticket agent desk was asked normal questions that persons working at airline ticket wickets ask routinely everyday all over the globe. Her reaction was a bit over the top, if you ask me.

Until and unless expatriates of a certain swath of countries, which happen to be Islamic and are located in what we call the Middle East, begin to face the reality of what their homeland governments have done to create their miserable image abroad, you are just going to have to suck it up and take it.

Consider, for example, those countries' treatment of minorities or of those who find the courage to dissent and try to explain how what happened to the young woman at the airport is anywhere close to the treatment meeted out by the government of her country of origin.

When the cry of foul against those governments and their wretched and nepharious treatment of their own citizens and others, is raised as strongly by those expatriots as is by the rest of us, then there will be far less suspicion of folks like you who are too cowardly to even pick a name.

And by the way, I know Canadian Arabs who routinely travel to the States whose Canadian citizenship is most certainly recognized. The Maher Arar case involves some exceptional circumstances. For you to suggest otherwise is dishonest to the core and just goes to show that you prefer to anethesize yourself with delusions.

If and when you get up off your lazy ass and do something to reduce the fear of persons of Middle Eastern origin by condemning those who cause it rather than those who respond to it, and do it with a real identity - not the ubiquitous "anonymous" - then you may get some respect.

In other words, put up or shut up. You rights and your freedoms are lightyears ahead of those who still suffer under the plight of the dictatorships, whether secular or religious, and whose rule is one of the root causes of panic some people in the West are feeling. Lay the figure of blame where it belongs - on those whose behaviour has wrought the very reasonable response such as tightened security in airports.

And Winston is dead on. Western countries offer a sanctuary to those who flee oppression and tyrany and the measures taken at airports and in other venues is way of ensuring that sanctuary will continue to be available to those who seek it. Whatever their reason for coming here, it would seem this young woman has no appreciation of that elemental fact. Perhaps she's as brainwashed as you.

anon said...

anonymous -
Winston is white and you're an idiot.

Azadeh said...

You bought a very good point.

But first immigrants have to respect the oath they have to be loyal to their new country, and not just taking and not giving and not just look at it as a Motel!

and to Anonymous, you can not blame Americans/Canadians if they give you that look as long as immigrants themself not beleiving that North america is their new home!

programmer craig said...

anonymous 2:46,

You are so naive! For your American friends it doesn't matter if you hold a US passport or a Canadian one (they even don't recognise Canadian citizenship, as in the case of Maher Arar they sent him to Syria), if you've been born in Iran, you are a potential terrorist.

Considering that the US has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since 1979 and a defacto state of war has existed since then, I think it's pretty remarkable that millions of Iranians have been allowed to immigrate to America.

I can't really explain that, myself. It was never so easy for people on the other side of the Iron Curtain to get here (or be accepted here), during the Cold War.

But, yes. Iranians do receive more scrutiny than probably anybody else. And for good reason. Would any Iranian who came here as a political refugee, or who has become a dissident while in the US, want Iranian nationals to come and go from the US at will?

And the next time when a white American/Canadian asks you where are you from, and you tell them "America" or "Canada", look at their faces and see how seriously they take your answer!

Why did you say "white" ?

But, yes, telling an American that you are American would draw an odd reaction. I suspect I would get an odd reaction if somebody asked where I was from, and I said "America" too. That would be a strange thing to say. In Iran, if an Iranian asks where you are from, do you tell them "Iran"?

Rosemary said...

This country was 'founded' by Christians who were being persecuted by the Catholics in England, so they fled to Holland and then here the 1600's.

Since that time, God has been removed from our schools, from our discussions, from our debates, from our minds and hearts. Once this happens, we become to be UNGRATEFUL. It is a huge societal problem...for all of us.

I love the way closed this post. That also includes the people that were already here! Thank you, and have a great day.

tom said...

I agree with the writer of 'the sp.of men.dual citicen ship is a confusing thing.In the case of Arar the u.s had a perfect right to send him to syria.He is also a citisen there.It is not enough realised how much these people profit from this foolisness.Arars torturing in Syria has never been proved.But our (smart) goverment rewarded his screwnnes with 10mill.Arar is no doubt telling his children under great hillarity how stupid these western goverments are. tom

serendip said...

Winston: This is the most brilliant and refreshing post of yours, yet. I've been wanting to write about this forever. I don't believe in dual citizenships and it should be banned.

Azadeh, Craig, and Louis: Bravo on your retort to the forever-blaming white man's colonialism for their own defeated civilization and ideology, "anonymous".

Snake Oil Baron said...

Winston,
I agree with your post in general but there is often a strong attachment to the "old country" among immigrants. I am a white, English speaking Canadian who was born and raised here but for sometime I thought of myself as a second generation immigrant since my folks came from England and Ireland (from the Republic but protestant). This identification was partly due to dissatisfaction with my life at the time but also due to a strong sense of family history.

After becoming more and more disgusted by the both Catholic and Protestant Irish (culminating just before 9-11 with "my people" throwing rocks and bottles at little Catholic school girls who dared to sully the sidewalks in their neighborhoods by walking to school), I came to the decision that you should be loyal to the people in your society. Not the political entity of nation state necessarily but the people you live with. I do, however, feel sympathy with people who have not been able to cut the cord, so to speak of the old country.

Snake Oil Baron said...

As for America not "recognizing" Canadian citizenship, it might be helpful to examine the dictionary definition of the word "anecdote" and then ponder why anecdotal evidence is not used to prove anything by sensible people.

Azarmehr said...

I think you are all being too harsh. One can love two countries just one can love his/her mum and dad at the same time.

We live in the age of globalization with mass movement as a fact of life. An Englishman who retires to Spain for example, can love Spain as much as England at the same time. An Italian American is just as fond of Itlay as he loves the US.

I love England, it has given me the opportunities I needed and I have to be grateful to its people, but I also love Iran, its my heritage and where my blood relatives live and I will never do anything against the interest of the people of Iran.

One of my greatest privileges in life is being bi-cultural. What great joy? I can enjoy reading Persian poetry and at the same time enjoy the humopur of Black Adder. Its my greatest treasure in life being completely bi-cultural.

Anonymous said...

The oath of citizenship in the USA includes the surrender of ALL other loyalties. (Go look it up!) We HAVE no dual citizenship!

(If other nations want to delude themselves - that is their business - but at the end of it all by American law you are an AMERICAN ONLY or you are NOT!)

Anonymous said...

In my part of Chicago almost every day I see the type of muslim immigrant that really doesn't feel they are American if the woman is in a burka or caldor with a full vail it is clear they don't want to be Americans or Canadians as they are showing the full contempt they have for us INFADELS.

YOCHANAN OF LGF