What Do Iranian Americans Want NIAC To Be/Do?


by bahmani

Recently on a couple of blogs I posted on problems I have with NIAC, it has become apparent that some of you want to know what I want NIAC to be or do.

Obviously like any arrogant writer who wants to be popular and famous amongst readers and the internet, I have my own ego-based opinions. Lots of them. Let's face it no one writes privately. Every writer is motivated to become popular. Success is based on traffic, eyeballs, likes, +1s, Tweets, (especially those Re-Tweets!), downloads, send-to-a-friends, and ultimately purchased books, and dream of all dreams adapted screenplays, leading all the way up to a personal meeting with Angelina Jolie.

This, in variations, is the real motive.

As a reader, you hope that somewhere in that personal mission of success, there might be a hint of thought, a spark of an idea, and the smallest chance of some intellectually stimulating debate. Or that it made you smile or possibly to laugh. OL.

OK enough confession.

By the very nature of civic participation, what I want NIAC to be/do, is irrelevant. By the very claim that NIAC makes in its logo and its very name, what I want, or my opinion, or ideally my vote, is that it should be washed cleanly against your opinion, and others in the Iranian American community. The community NIAC claims to represent. But in fact doesn't. How could it? We technically don't exist. Even the 2010 US Census doesn't know!

Still today, in spite of all the democratic and populist gains made in the history of this world, centuries after "The Age of Reason", NIAC has now put Descartes before DesHorse. Then backed it up and run over him again, just to make sure he isn't still kicking. (Note to Anonymous Observer: In this punny phrench philosopher metaphor, we are Descartes)

This is how I feel. My opinion is irrelevant. By ignoring basic common civic organizational structure, rules of participation, and decorum, NIAC has ignored the very simple step of Community Authorization to Proceed.

Yet insists audaciously to it's target audiences (politicians, and lawmakers and various nefarious others) that it has that authorization.

When, and this is a rare request, the audience stirs from their Obama-Coma (Oboma?) and surprisingly asks about credentials, NIAC coughs like a curmudgeonly elder statesmen in Queen Victoria's parliament,

"...Well sir, that is a bloody well insulting request, and of course we have it, but nonetheless another prime example of why you know so little about the delicate machinations of the Persus-Iranus Plateau, middle east crisis... Israeli-Palestinian conspiracy... Shiism vs Sunnism... cum som nombre di mi padre... harrumph harrumph... and GOOD DAY TO YOU SIR!!!"

Or some shit like that.

We don't ever know. Apparently keeping minutes of conversations for public scrutiny (just in case) like all failed self-appointed Iranian organizations we've all volunteered on, isn't high on the list. Even if it is prescribed by the 501c(xxx).

So, what I want? My Personal Persian Peccadillo? Simple. I want NIAC to do what it needs to do (I'll gladly help!), to acquire the authorization of the "Iranian-American Community" (the ones actually inside the US) to proceed with the business that the Iranian-American Community deems worthy, important and best of all for NIAC, FUNDABLE.

That may very well be, to be the lobby for the IRI as has been alleged, never proven, but often and highly rumored, apparently sued over and won. By a lisping idiot no less. Another unauthorized self-appointed well intentioned sad deviant.

Side-Bar-Note: NIAC-jaan, ever heard of the IABA? They are the Iranian-American Bar Association, or a good source for decent lawyers. Even Free sometimes! Use them the next time Trita gets into it with Hassan. NIAC-IABA, IABA-NIAC. See how well engaging with the community works!

I don't honestly know. Maybe, just maybe, I am totally off in what I want NIAC to focus on as an IA. Maybe it is true, and the majority of IA or Los Angeles County IA (because like it not, hate LA or love LA, prefer DC over LA, that is where over half of us live now), want NIAC to really work hard on MEK de-delisting. They might even want cool internet movies with dramatic impending doom music tracks, hyping the dangers that the "Camp Ashraf Home for Revolutionary Retirees" poses.

As an IA, seriously, nothing the MEK does is an issue I care that much about. Maryam's headscarf does concern me, but apparently, thanks to NIAC, so far I can't tell her in person. I do know that Iran cares deeply about the MEK being de-listed. And actually, that's kind of great for me personally, as an IA who does not agree with Iran's form of governance. But again, don't feed my desires, wash my opinion with yours and everyone elses. Then decide what to do about the MEK de-listing.

Because I could be totally wrong. Thanks to NIAC not doing what they need to do though, there is no public forum for us to debate this and then direct the collective right action to NIAC.

What NIAC Should do next:

NIAC should take ALL of the grant money they have received and instead of funding whatever they have funded themselves to do, need to build and establish active, working , self maintaining community organizations across the US in the top 10 major Metros that IA live in (LA, OC, SF Bay Area, Portland/Seattle, Houston/Dallas, Chicago/Detroit, NY/Boston, DC, and OK Ramin! Atlanta!) in order to accurately poll and feed up the chain, the accurate psyche of the IA community. When NIAC deems an idea to do, it should present that tot eh community organizations through to the Community for approval, authorization and most importantly proper funding.

To be fair, this is really hard to do. Much harder than the walk from K street to Capitol Hill. Almost impossible even if you are lazy and like to give up or do things you can do easily instead of the hard thing you should do. Almost. If you use Iranian failed techniques (like renting out overpriced Hyatt ballrooms). If you use normal American civic organization techniques, it is quite easy. And low cost (like booking the local community center for free). Then NIAC would know what to do, what to actually lobby for, and finally what to really advocate. Most importantly NIAC will finally understand WHO THEY REPRESENT. (and have enough money to do it properly)

I have no problems with Trita Parsis head (His hair?, another matter), qualifications, passion, and intent. I even like his faint British accent. In spite of what has been demonstrated, none of the selfless staff are totally useless. Everyone is useful in some way. They are if anything, understaffed and underfunded. Something interfacing with the larger IA community would easily resolve. More staff, more funding, more involvement and tapping the pulse.

As it stands now, and I have said this before, NIAC is a largely harmless, members only politics club. Or in the case of the elite members who send in the annual check, a country club.

NIAC is neither National, nor does it reflect the IA in A, nor is the concept of a Council adhered to. It is out of likely necessity, a one-man show, driven by the automatic sanction and approval of the likely apathetic elite members, who are too bored with making money to care about the details, and just want Trita to continue to impress them linguistically. And comp them tickets and A-list entry to events in which prestigious politicians and diplomats might hover.

Or, the classic failed 90's era iroony "lead and dey veel follow" approach. Unfortunately we're done with that. Lead and Follow rents the apartment right next to Tyranny who is keeping us up all night with their incessant techno music. "Oons! Oons! Oons! OOns!"

NIAC ain't no community representative, that's fo' sho'. Us cotton pickin' 'rayneeuns in the sticks (or California and outside DC), ain't gots no cause for complainin' or axin' too many ques-chuns, we best be gettin' back to the plantayshun, befo' massuh Parsi come back and beat the 'tarnation out of us... 'agin.

So I guess after all the flowery prose, this was all debatably just an elaborately written plea for emancipation...


more from bahmani
Mohammad Ala

Few comments . . .

by Mohammad Ala on

Mr. Bahmani helped Iranian community way before iranian.com was created.  As his list demonstrate, Mr. Bahmani has spent a great deal of time helping Iranian community on voluntary bases.

In regard to NIAC, it is an organization that operates in the USA and its operation is transparent due to its tax filling every year.  Whereas organizations such as AIPAC use every trick to hide their income but its contributions to Congress people and Senators are known.  Now comparison:  NIAC has 1-2 employees whereas AIPAC has over 200.  NIAC has less than two hundred thousand dollars of budget whereas AIPAC shows over $250,000,000.  

If you do not like what NIAC does, get involved, or for the amount of time and energy that you spend to criticize it, create your organization and practice what you preach.

hamsade ghadimi

thanks but not thanks

by hamsade ghadimi on

thanks but not thanks bahmani.  been there done that.  before it was fashionable (pre-2009), i asked parsi why there's no effort by niac in the area of human rights.  his response: "that's not what we do in niac." i think this council is representative of the guardian council.  jj has said before that in the early 90s when he was in n.y., his job was to drum up business for iri.  this outfit is an elaborate and much improved version of jj and company's venture.  maybe that's why jj has a soft spot for niac.  good luck on your endeavor. $50 is not expensive but your valuable time is another story.


OK, Just joined NIAC!

by bahmani on

Let us see if Kabriat is right.

To read more bahmani posts visit: //brucebahmani.blogspot.com/


Reply to Hamsade: Yes, we should all join

by bahmani on

I think $50 is a reasonable price to pay to confirm NIAC is warped from the inside.

Maybe I am being cheap, so enough chit chat, time to put up or shut up. If you are in the DC area, join with me and lets find out what's going on from the inside.

It is the least we can do. No, I checked. There is nothing less easier than this we can do. Everything else would be far harder. :)

To read more bahmani posts visit: //brucebahmani.blogspot.com/

hamsade ghadimi

there you have it

by hamsade ghadimi on

there you have it bahmani.  the name of the game is reform whether it's changing the gov't in iran or direction of niac.  you have to join in and then try to change from within; otherwise, your opinion or that of any other iranian american doesn't matter.  it's a club as you called it with the stakeholders comprising of iri (political incentive), anti-west ideologues (political incentive) and those who stand to profit from the success of niac (economic incentive).  even if you join in (again), you'll be banished like the "reform" leaders in iri.  niac claims to represent iranian americans while it does not value their opinion, even opinion of a person with an extensive record of involvement in iranian american communities.

asking acquiescence from a dictator is like negotiating with a tiger for his pelt - chinese proverb


I think its obvious

by Kabriat on

No, they don't take you seriously because you lack credibility.  And you lack credibility for a number of reasons.  You don't have background in the area of community development or foreign policy (not to say that others do).  You use unconstructive means to relay your opinion.  Your articles aren't very coherent or very well-written.  You provide absolutely no support for your arguments.  And, generally, people don't listen to someone who dictates rather than "does something."

I'd take your advice and criticism of NIAC more seriously if I thought you have expertise in the subject.  But you don't.  And participation doesn't create it.  I can volunteer at a hospital for 30 years, but that doesn't make me any more qualified to critique a doctor's medical practice.  The same applies to your criticisms.  For instance, lets take your broad assertion that what NIAC does is "dictatorial" and that "they don't actually represent the IA community."  Your argument is strictly based on their membership size and the manner they elect their Board.  There's a number of flaw in your argument.  First, you provide no examples to support your counter propositions.  Second, your argument is suprisingly simplistic.  The NAACP claims to represent all colored people but I highly doubt that more than 10-15% of all colored people in the US are members of the NAACP.  The same applies to AIPAC and virtually every other minority organization.  NIAC follows their trend, so provide a counter-example that supports your criticism.  And explain why that model works.  In other words, provide an intelligent response, not some mindless dribble that clearly took you no more than an hour to write.

As to your list of what you have done, let me say the following.  It's nice, but I think there's a lot to be said about how vague and ambigious everything is.  "Wrote the biz plan for PARSA" for instance could mean that you sat at a meeting where everyone provided their ideas and you memorialized them.  Plus, why would you write the business plan for PARSA?  Have you ever ran a foundation?  Same with all of the other accomplishments you've listed.  What was your role and what about your professional background made your contributions relevant or indeed advanced the project.  For instance, a computer engineer could provide medical advice, but thats ridiculous for two reasons.  It's wrong for the computer engineer to provide advice beyond his expertise and it shows how irresponsible the recipient is by accepting such advice.  I see the same analogies in your list.  If your contributions are that you created a website because you have familiarity with HTML, be clear, because that clarity will demonstrate the limits of your knowledge and advice.


Reply to: Kabriat: I agree

by bahmani on

You are right, these kinds of dictatorial organizations don't take me seriously. Mostly because I never actually bite them, except via these kinds of harmless critique.

I cannot start my own "answer" to them because I believe in a community approach, and precisely, based on my 20 years of experience working with every single shape and size org, the "lead and they will follow" approach simply does not work. Because it is dictatorial. And we are done with that.

So I believe that your suggestion, "stop whining and do one yourself" is a very wrong way to go. This isn't personal, it's societal.

The correct procedure, is to build a self sustaining community organization (not a center) first, then ask the people what they want done. Then mobilize the necessary effort to go do it. NIAc has not done that. So they fail.

Contrary to what many believe, NIAC is not a failure because they have lots of critics. No one has ever lifted a finger to stop NIAC. NIAC fails because they don't actually represent the IA community and organization. The logic NIAC uses to DO, is entirely wrong. That is why they fail. By fail, I mean achieve anything really important IA want achieved. Don't buy the accomplishments list on their site, those are dubious at best. Rosy self congratulations. None of it was what the community stated they wanted done. Personal projects or club projects maybe, but not community based prioritizing.

Again, I'll say it again, I don't want to shut down NIAC, I want to reform it so it does the bidding of the IA community as intended, as chartered, and missioned. Not this. Ter is alos more money for NIAC this way.

I am listening to you though. I guess I will have to next gather the $50 and join NIAC again. Maybe they wil actually let me in. That will be a good test. If they do I will try and convince them again. Although I've had this conversation with Trita before. I'd hate to have to run against him in an election just to prove my point. Is that what you want as well? Because personally, I'd rather just work with him as is to fix NIAC's direction.

As to what I have done?

-Wrote the biz plan for PARSA
-Served NIAC during the first 5 years with various projects
-Worked with PAAIA and interviewed for the Dir spot
-Worked with IABA
-IACC officer for 5 years
-SIP/Anjoman Officer for 12 years
-Continue to work with Persian Center (since 2000)
-Worked to launch Namak Magazine
-Worked to launch Payam-e-Javan magazine
-Worked with numerous Satellite TV stations to develop NPR style content and progrmaming
-Continue to work (not just a writer) with this site for 15 years
-Conducted the 2004 Iranian_American survey (first of its kind)
-Worked with BAIVoter (5 years)
-Worked on Sizdah Bedar in Los Gatos (15k visitors each yr, 7 years)
-Worked on San Jose NoRooz Parade (30k)
-Worked on 2010 Census
-Wrote/Created Shahnameh comic books (4)
-Co-Founded Beyond Persia (Brought Kiosk/Abjeez to stage for the first time 2007, brought Namjoo to a 6-city US tour for first time)
-Worked as a polling station co-manager
-Worked on John Kerry campaign
-Worked on Jerry Brown campaign
-Worked on bringing NoRooz to the SF City Hall Rotunda, wrote politician's speech
-Iran Alliance, Iran Heritage, Persian Gulf Task Force
-Pleasanton Iranian Community 2008, 2009
-Ankaboot.com first Iranian site search engine (not for profit 2000-2006)
-IranKids.com (Resource site for Iranian-American kids to learn the Farsi Alphabet, posters, book reviews, computer games, videos, and music.
-ArtIran.com (Iranian artist site not for profit 2002)
-Started and ran Googoosh.com (not for profit 2000-2009)
-Member of 2006 effort to buy the San Jose Earthquakes professional soccer team, First effort by Iranian-Americans to buy a sports franchise

Is that enough community culture and volunteer and non-profit work for you, or am I still unqualified to criticize a community organization making a huge strategy and PR mistake when I see it?

How's your own list coming?

To read more bahmani posts visit: //brucebahmani.blogspot.com/



by Kabriat on

Instead of whining, why not do something about it.  And by doing something, I mean setting up programs, activities, etc.  You can't just criticize organizations and expect them to change - you don't have the credibility, stature or the background where organizations would take your opinions seriously.  So the only way to enact meaningful change is by actually doing something - be it working with NIAC to fix the organization from within or (if you think NIAC is like the IRI) helping another organization remodel itself to fill the gaps you describe.  Then again, if all you're doing is seek attention and criticizing NIAC seems to produce the most comments for you - then best of luck.  It's a worthless venture, but if it makes you happy then ok.

By the way, if you're response is that organizations do take you seriously and that you are doing something, you're just lying to yourself.  No organization I have spoken to takes your comments seriously and I have never seen you do anything worthwhile for the community (be it locally or nationally) except dictate what you "want" and expect people to do it.