Proud New American

When Obama wins today our happily and finally restored selves will win


Proud New American
by Setareh Sabety

It is Election Day in the United States.  I am surprised at how excited I actually am.  It feels like it is my wedding day!  I am an Iranian who became an American twelve years ago. I have always been a democrat. I remember I was in graduate school when Jesse Jackson with his Rainbow Coalition (sounds nostalgically like an old Motown band) ran for president and even though I was not yet a citizen I wore his badge.

I admired Jesse Jackson’s oratory skills and his liberal platform suited my youthful idealism.  Back then no one, including Jesse, doubted that he would lose.  America was not ready for a black president.  Now she is.  And I, a new American, who comes from Iran, who feels like she belongs to the planet, who thinks patriotism is silly, who considers herself a post-feminist feminist, who dreams in two languages, who is a Shiite turned atheist, have never been prouder.

Never mind that America’s readiness for Obama is largely due to the fact that George W. Bush was the most incompetent president in the history of this nation.  Never mind that her readiness for an African-American comes from the fact that the economy is in the most difficult crises of the past century.  Never mind that the Republican ticket is weak and lacks vision.  Never mind that Obama has much more money than his opponent. 

The truth is that America is changing.  It is changing both demographically and ideologically thanks to new Americans like me!  New Americans, who think globally and reject the kind of patriotism that is blind to the welfare of the world.  New Americans who refuse racial and gender prejudice not only because they find it unjust but simply because they find it passé, obsolete.

When Obama wins later today, as I am sure he will, it is this new notion of what it means to be an American that will win. We who came here not on old ships to Ellis Island but to Kennedy Airport, on Jumbo jets, fleeing new and old forms of injustice. We who came not because we wanted to forget who we were but to remember the good in it, to preserve and nurture the best of ourselves, cannot help but feel elated.  When Obama wins today our happily and finally restored selves will win.

I remember taking the oath of citizenship in Faneiul Hall in Boston.  I was not too gung-ho about it.  I felt like someone, exiled from her motherland that had little choice but to take the citizenship of the country in which her future was to take place. I was becoming an American not for romantic but for pragmatic reasons. 

At the end of the ceremony I had tears rolling down my cheeks.  That day too I was proud of being an American.  I was proud because I stood there with hundreds of other new Americans of every color and creed, who had mostly fled difficult lives and tyrannical governments, and listened to the judge give the most moving speech.  A speech that welcomed us as who we were and celebrated our differences and our myriad of origins. 

The judge, whose name I do not recall, spoke to my heart.  He told us that we had not abandoned our cultures nor our motherlands but rather we had come to a place were in our very many-layered unity we could celebrate them.  We could in this young nation bring out the best of our old countries.  

That day as I took the oath to become an American I was proud of being an Iranian.  That feeling, that happy possibility to unite the East and West that has always been in me was the best gift that America has given me.  That optimism that we can remain who we are while striving to be something more is the best characteristic of America:  her ‘defining truth’.   

Obama embodies that optimism. 

That is why today I am excited, proud and happy.  Finally I can be sure that what I felt that day in Faneuil Hall and who I am reflects the true face of a new America.  Today I can tell my children whose names are not anglicized, whose great grandfather was also named Hussein that I became an American because in America and only in America you can be whoever you want to be without denouncing who you once where without changing the name given to you by your mother.


Recently by Setareh SabetyCommentsDate
Car Crash
May 28, 2012
Oliver Stone's Son Converts to Islam
Feb 15, 2012
Ziba Nawak: Naked Solidarity
Dec 09, 2011
more from Setareh Sabety

First I would like to say

by Annia Larkins (not verified) on

First I would like to say that the article is very well written, the fact that there is the memories from the author only makes it better, more personal and therefore more global. I am not american but I am also happy to think that after eight years of having to hear Bush stuttering on the news every now and then and to see all the disasters he did in Irak and the tortures done to the prisoners of war.
I am more than relieved to think that finnally the majority of americans actually voted for somebody who is intelligent, carismatic, eloquent, has an international back ground. I am now interested at looking at the news and seeying what he has to say. Lets just say America has caught the worlds attention once again.

Special regards to the writer.

Setareh Sabety

why we vacillate? on mood swings and women writers.

by Setareh Sabety on

It is easy to go through a writer's body of work and make accusations. IranDokht got upset about me being accused of mood swings because she rightly saw the accusation as slightly sexists. Women are traditionally accused of 'mood swings' and 'hysteria' which means 'wandering womb'! The fact is that I am a woman. I write with more emotion than some people. That is what makes my writings readable and perhaps 'moving'. My writings are more from Venus than they are from Mars, if you will! I am not afraid to show my emotions. And frankly I would never claim emotional stability. So let us say that I am 'unstable' or that my writings reveal 'mood swings' so what? Are we here to analyze me or my writings? Now if we want to analyze my writings let us ask the question why do they reveal instability or vacillation? Perhaps because until now I had a hard time reconciling my different identities, precisely why I think Obama's election has restored my sense of self. Now like never before I can feel comfortable about being Iranian, American, Anti-Islamic Republic, Anti-shah, feminist and pro-Palestinian but anti-mullah and secular. I can be all of these things and still be a proud American! get it? or do I need to provide more tutorials about my work! makes me feel important you all reading my articles and finding fault with me. We used to do that in college with the classics! One more point for the record: I did write in august just before 9/11 an article, No Walls, here on that was reprinted in a collection, "The New Americans" (Double Day Press), about how I loved America. So I did not suddenly feel American after Obama got elected! but this pride, the way I feel now, and I believe perhaps other like me do, is a new kind of pride. It is the pride one has when one feels a part of a better whole.
Thank you all for taking the time to read me. I just wish someone would criticize my writing or my arguments instead of my psyche. Thank you who defended me in this thread for doing so. At least no one tells me to go home if 'you don't like it here' anymore!
American Wife, my brothers lived in Dublin and I in boston. erin go bragh (sp)!

Dee M

Deeply Moved...

by Dee M on

Satareh,   Can I just say that I was deeply moved by your words, It appears however your courage beauty and optimism,  has left these cynics nauseated!! YOU GO GIRL!!





Ignorance and

by Kouroshs (not verified) on

Ignorance and Tassob?
Irandokht. You are going a bit overboard here. It is True that people change and react differently at different times, but it is not called ignorance if they don't do so!the same goes for taasob. You can label someone motassab when he or she is ardently supportive of an issue, not when someone won't change their minds, because of some minor changes.

Intelligent people have the rightto make a stand on an issue and take a position on it and stick with it for a long time. That is not taasob, that is called stability, and there is nothing abnormal about that.

farah is right and someone who changes her mind depending on which direction the wind blows and based on the emotions at the time, should be considered a little unstable. Setare, I am not talking about you, I am just making a general statement.
And Farah never said she did not like Obama. I guess some one else here needs to be control of their emotions and quit branding people.

American Wife

you go girl!

by American Wife on

You don't like our President... move to Canada!


mood swings???

by IRANdokht on

That is such a low blow especially coming from another woman!

We react to different events differently, that's not called mood swings, it's called being human!  Normal intelligent people will not react and think the same way despite what is happening around them! Facts change, events happen, people change... Sticking to the same belief no matter what is called ignorance and ta-assob!

Why are people attacking Ms Sabeti's character here anyway? 

You don't like Obama? tough! He's our president so get used to it! This goes for you Anonymous whatever /MRX and Farah khanoom too!


American Wife


by American Wife on

Yes, it is!  My dad's family is from Ireland.



Mood Swings

by Farah Rusta (not verified) on

Following the debate here, I read a number of Ms Sabety's articles from the past and realized that she has some serious mood swings. In one article she is prepared to live in Israel under the leadership of the infamous General Sharon and in another she is a Palestinian! She is one day ashamed being American and now she so proud of being one! She has every right to change her mind as many times as she wishes but she seems to be giving in to vagary.

Setareh Sabety

Dear American Wife

by Setareh Sabety on

Thank you. Is that an Irish flag? I knew it would be a big win. It was a mandate win if you ask me. It was paradigmatic shift of huge proportions. Even condi rice had tears in her eyes when asked about her thought on the matter!

American Wife


by American Wife on

Very nicely said... thank you!

There will always be nay-sayers... it's a part of that freedom of speech thing that we as Americans get to enjoy. 

People like MRX1 are like cockroaches... no matter how nasty they are, they're going to live beyond the human race... scurrying around aimlessly.  Hey... if you're not paying for his kid, why do you care who is? 

Asghar... just how close did you think it was going to be... as compared to how close it really was?  :-)

Setareh Sabety

Thank you Varjavand

by Setareh Sabety on

Your name is the same as the hospital in which I was born many years ago in Tehran. It is so nice to have someone get my point and express it so well. It is especially rewarding to have someone come to my defense without being asked. Thank you for reading both articles. Taking points out of context is the fodder that many thrive on unfortunately and often I just let it go but this time it bothered me enough to comment. Let us hope we too can rise above personal attacks and engage in real debate on this site. Congratulations to you to.


    Anonymous Iranian

by varjavand on



Anonymous Iranian

I read both articles, and as she has already explained to you, they are not contradictory. The problem is that the organizers of this site choose the title not the writers. And sometime the omission of even one word may change the entire meaning or sends a wrong message. What she said in the other article was:  Today, I am ashamed to be an American, the emphasis is on the word today, and she justifies why in her article. She had the right to show her dissatisfaction, or even outrage, against the horrendous actions committed by Israelis or the “reactionary government” of the US during that particular time. You are taking her points out of context.

I believe her article is very well written, and prompt. I share her enthusiasm about the election of Mr. Obama. Now that he is, in fact, our elected president, I would like to congratulate all of his Iranian supporters.




Mr. Abarmard

by Rok goo (not verified) on

To be serious, how can you be happy with a regime change in the US, but NOT in Iran...!?

Setareh Sabety


by Setareh Sabety on

Just a note to defend myself against anonymous iranian's accusations: please read the article "Today I am a Palestinian" whose link he/she has bothered to search and see how in fact this new one follows perfectly and does not at all contradict the older article and even if it did it is not a crime to change one's mind! Also the reason there are so many "I"s is because this an opinion piece about how the author feels and does not pretend to be anything more. Now why would someone bother to count my I's and dig up old article's of mine? Either he/she has a grudge against me or is opposed to me ideologically. I am content in knowing that only good writing provokes such reaction. The reader should have the intelligence to not take metaphors for statements of fact. Unless of course he/she is at a loss for a better kind of criticism. Read the message and critique it rather than the author's person that is the first thing you learn in High School. these tactics are old school savaki! As for pride in being and Iranian? well look who writes anonymously and who is proud of her name! Don't accuse me of lack of pride when you don't even reveal your name!

I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

This site is insane - zionists and national review is linking it

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on

No wonder there is so much weird and anonymous commenting. Count on a segment of Iranians to embrace those idiots. Dear Zionists - TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN PROBLEMS BEFORE THINKING YOU CAN SOLVE OURS. ISRAEL IS A DISASTER ZONE AND HASN'T HAD ONE DAY OF PEACE YET. GO FIX IT THEN PREACH TO US


When are you going to be an Iranian?

by Anonymous Iranian (not verified) on

Is this piece of writing about Obama or about the author? There are twenty six repetitions of " I " did this or " I " was that or " I " am such and such and only five references to Obama!!

If my memory serves me right a few years ago the same author on the pages of this web site prudly declared that he was ashamed of being American and that she was a proud Palestinian!! (//

Then, back in 2002, she was once again referring to her citizenship day, that hot summer afternoon in Boston, but there were no mention of tears rolling down her face. If anything she refused to affirm that she would defend her adopted country in case there was a war on.

Now, on a cold day in fall 2008, she has turned into a proud American???

Ms Sabety, would there be a day you could tell your children that you were a proud of Iranian?


To add

by Gullible (not verified) on

Not to forget this fact that Under Obama, the US will not be the country that Islamists and Iranian regime supporters picture it to be either. And that's a certainty you can believe in.



by Abarmard on

The reality, beside "change we can believe in", is that US is not the country that that the Neo Cons pictured it to be. And that's a change you can believe in



by hooshang198 (not verified) on

Had Obama been a white candidate he would not make it even to the primaries. He is extremly inexperienced and the media made him a celebrity!


The system!

by Ajam (not verified) on

Great points dear Asghar M. Hate to rain on Ms. Sabety's parade, but it takes more than a figure head to change things around in the US. Obama might have indeed all the good intentions, but he'll have an uphill battle trying to reform a culture with deep phobia toward pretty much everything he represent (i.e. universal health care, affordable education, gender equalty and social justice... that are taken for granted in other industrialized countries). Chances are that he will be consumed by the system before he gets to even try any drtastic change.
America is experiencing a stalemate in the good-cop/bad-cop game facing geopolitical challenges in the global arena and a in desperate need of a fresh image. And who better than a person of colour "a citizen of the world" to sell that image to the rest og the world.
Much like the freshman law students, inspired by revoultionary ideas to change the world, who trade their ideals for the promises of six figure salaries and stock options by the third year, Obama's hope will lose much of its colour in a battle against the harsh Relaity. Indeed he already has conformed to such realities (proclaiming himself a "Reagan democrats"). That is why the election campaign takes two years in the US (for the system to ensure that the new comer can be contained)!
Nevertheless, Obama's victory would not be without its positive aspects as it deals a hefty blow to rhetorics of bellicosity and scare-mongering!

Dee M

setareh sabety - I salute you!

by Dee M on

I live In Australia where we have -

 free health care! feree education! free child care!

Let me tell you all - ITS A GREAT WAY TO LIVE!!

following the USA elections and watching the poor

support Macain has been a - TOTAL JOKE!!

One poor guy showed the camera the hole's in

the soles of his shones (and he was ANTI Obama??)

but he worked for a living and he wasnt going to give

all his hard earned money to the poor, I got up and

turned the TV off and siad -


 As I type this the polls are showing Obama;s ahead!






I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek

If we get sovietized, then we'll fix it. DEMOCRAZY WORKS

by I Have a Crush on Alex Trebek on

Why are you so doom and gloom? 4 years later, we'll have another election, and if you think you can dance, then you should run or stop criticizing the best thing that could happen to America after Bush and his administration squatted and defecated on us.



i agrre with mrx1....

by ali1348 (not verified) on

I have nothing against obama, but the idea of him, pelosi, and reid at the helm of this country is very scary.
futhermore, democrats, traditionally, have spelled disastor for iran- including carter, who is indirectly the father of islamic radicalism- brezynski is one of obama's advisors! the same idiot who let the mullahs butcher our brave officers at the alavi school!
I feel that you should spread OPPORTUNITY not wealth!! obama's ideology breeds a culture of "entitlement" and "free handouts" at the sake of others.
now, a billionaire should of course try to contribute as much as he can to help those in need- but not at the discretion or order of obama or pelosi


Wet Towel

by Asghar_Massombagi on

As much as I hate to throw water on your euphoric state at the ushering of utopia, the news of the birth of a new post-race America is greatly exaggerated.  Just recently, yet another group of New York City's finest were indicted for sodomizing a black suspect while in custody.  This is the same New York City that matches the new America you have described: racially and culturally diversified.  While there is no doubt that election of Barack (which hopefully will happen in a few hours from now) will be an historical occasion (in a country that even up to the early Sixties tolerated semi-legal apartheid in many parts of it) it won’t metamorphose the US into the utopia you’ve described.  This is still a country with imperial ambitions all over the globe over which she is willing to go wars, a country still run by powerful conglomerates (witness both McCain and Obama’s towing the party line on the bail out issue), a country whose political structure is dominated by a virtual one-party system on most issues.  Obama’s record in the senate has shown that he is a player not willing to rock the boat.  Even culturally - and here is where Obama’s election means the most - the country is still in the grip of culture wars.  The Palin crowd is not the lunatic fringe. They may lose this election but I guarantee you it’s going to be a close.  I’m glad that you feel one with your new self, that you feel that you’re part of America, but remember the price the world has to pay so that you’ll have the opportunity to fulfill your self in the US.



by are you for real (not verified) on

what? are you for real? wow

Ali A Parsa

A mew beginning

by Ali A Parsa on

You mak a lot of sense in this and your other writings and I think you for the inspiration you spread. I only have to comment on one of the last sentences at the end of your writing. "in America and only in America you can be whoever you want to be
without denouncing who you once where without changing the name given
to you by your mother."

Let us not also forget that all blessings of America are only available to us if we are vigilant and resist to surrender them to a minoriy that is possessed by ignroance, arrogance and greed as they have been for quite some time especially during the recent eight years. It is indeed a blessing that the American Revolution and its ideals that were hijacked by a bunch of extremeists is finally being reclaimed. Finally, let us hope that this is only a bginning of a bright future and America will not be rescued from itself without continued vigigilance and hard work of each individual that make up the government of the people.  Please see my website for more. 


So now we know

by MRX1 (not verified) on

So there we go, now you know the real reason why BO is becoming next president:
"demographically and ideologically" as the resident philosopher in here puts it: The country is demographically chaning. most of new comers now are now from societies with governments with have heavy hands in everything. so these people are used to ask for everything from the government: free health care, free education,free child care and free just about any other services you can think off. This attidute will also give a rise to ideology of entitlement. Hence the next step in this country will be sovietization. Folks like BO are perfect candidate to start delivering on this platform.
Future of US will indeed be dark, if not litteraly, politicaly and economicaly. The country will look some where between Hati and Brazil except with fat lesbians instead of bikini wearing girls!
to the future!
p.s who is paying for jessy jackson's son out of the wedlock?