So, can you take some criticism?

Some honest, friendly advice to Trita Parsi and Karim Sadjadpour


So, can you take some criticism?
by siavash99

As an Iranian-American youth, seeing the courage of our cousins back in Iran has blown my mind. Suddenly, I didn’t want to hide my identity, I wanted to scream to everyone at my university that I was Iranian and that the immortal protestors they saw on TV were my brothers and sisters.

And as a polisci and communications major, it was also very cool to see Iranian American experts – not a decade older myself – on the air, explaining to Joe the Plumber and his Neanderthal clan as well as the more enlightened population in my beloved America the run down in Iran.

Two of them are Trita Parsi and Karim Sadjadpour. I had never seen them on the same stage before, so it was pretty cool that they both were on PBS Newshour a few weeks ago. (See transcript and video) It was an awesome opportunity to compare their styles and analysis. I am a fan of both of them, so if they read this, I hope they don’t take this the wrong.

Let’s start with style and appearance. Both of them are well shaved and seem to wear an appropriate portion (Persian standards) of hair gel. And one can almost smell that neither of them is using cologne responsibly, in true Iranian fashion. That’s all good, but what kinda tie is Parsi wearing? He has a dark shirt, and an even darker tie! Did you look at yourself in the mirror before you went on? Lord have mercy.

And if you wear these dark colors, at least try to smile, baradar! Throughout the interview Parsi is locking his gaze on poor Jim Lehrer, looking as if he may jump out of his chair and strangle the poor old guy at any given moment. Like many Iranians, Parsi can’t seem to focus without looking pissed. And the word smile seems as alien to him as the word modesty is to Kanye.

But the brighter side of Parsi’s stern, angry gaze is that he looks self-confident. He answers the questions without pause while still maintaining an engaging rhythm.

Sadjadpour, however, is very well dressed, has a nice yellow tie and matching plucked eyebrows. You can see he is a guy that has a not-so-secret love affair with the mirror. That is a plus. But he needs to work on his confidence. He looks at Jim Lehrer with George Bush’s deer-in-the-headlight look, confused as to why he is being asked questions in an interview. He has that scared boy look, you know the one when you were ten and you had gotten yourself into fatal trouble and you looked at your father’s angry frown, trying to figure out what he wanted you to say to your defense.

But while Parsi has an engaging speaking style, Sadjadpour has an arsenal of sound bites. That’s also a plus because however smart your analysis is, the question is if people will remember it. Throw in a few sound bites and people will remember you – even if they won’t remember your conclusions. Sadjadpour’s got skills in this department.

And he better, because his analysis seems lacking. And he seems to know it. When he wasn’t seeking Jim Lehrer’s approval, he was looking nervously at Parsi as if he needed his endorsement to continue the interview.

The camera doesn’t show Parsi looking at Sadjadpour at all – or even acknowledging his existence. And this is where Parsi’s confidence may become a handicap. While Sadjadpour comes across as submissive, Parsi seems inappropriately indifferent. In one segment, he even cuts of Jim Lehrer to make his point. Buddy, I don’t care how brilliant you are, you simply don’t cut of Jim Lehrer! If you hadn’t noticed, the program you were on is named after him! Get the hint?

Ok, on to their analyses of the situation in Iran. Sadjadpour refers to the protests on the anniversary of the student uprising as a celebration. Not sure what he had in mind, but the clashes on the streets of Tehran is not on par with the Carnival in Rio. It’s on par with Israel’s massacre in Nablus. So calling it a celebration seems somewhat off. But most importantly, Sadjadpour misses the opportunity to open the discussion with a great point. All he says is that the Iranian people is great and courageous. True, but we didn’t need you to tell us that, genius. Use your 15 minutes of fame to say something slightly intelligent.

Parsi comes to his aid and reels in the point: The protests in Iran have not ended, in spite of the brutality of the repression. Good – America needed to be reminded of this so it wouldn’t think it’s business as usual. (Too bad he looked as if was about to kill Lehrer while giving the answer.)

Sadjadpour then goes over to argue that the US should not talk to Iran prematurely since that would demoralize the opposition. Another good point. But why on earth would Billy Bob Neanderthal in West Virginia care about the Iranian oppositions and their state of emotions? It would have been better to explain why this would be bad for Billy Bob and his unemployment benefit.

But then Parsi commits a lethal mistake. He takes a dump on Michael Jackson and the media coverage Wacko Jacko had gotten at the expense of the Iranian protesters. Now he may be entirely right, but who cares? Parsi just lost not only Billy Bob Neanderthal and his village of incest produce, but every American that ever owned a record player as well. Not smart.

But the biggest no-no of the evening is Sadjadpour’s. When asked about the Iranian opposition, Sadjadpour answers by quoting himself! Yes, you heard me right. He quoted himself. Look Sadjadpour, if you read this, take heed at these words of wisdom. Quoting oneself is something that you can only get away with if you are an elite athlete or artist and everyone knows that you have the combined IQ of a chipmunk and a donkey. Leave it to boxers and bling bling rappers. But if you are playing an analyst on TV, you should quote others, not yourself. Otherwise you might be demoted from PBS to ESPN.

Having said all of this, I couldn’t be prouder to be Iranian today. I hope neither Sadjadpour, Parsi, Joe the Plumber, Neanderthal village, Billy Bob or anyone else got offended. Remember, the critic is your best friend. Or something like that.


Kaveh Nouraee


by Kaveh Nouraee on

I have already corrected you once on my birthplace, not that it's any of your business. Such matters only make a difference to narcissistic, self-centered elitists like yourself. And as far as my ties to Iran, you're no one to determine either the extent or the integrity of those ties. But rest assured, that unlike yourself, I have no ties or loyalties to the IR regime.

And we all know about yours, dokhtar khanoum.

How many more times do you need to be exposed for the embittered phony you truly are? Obviously I remain under your skin because you continue to harbor this sense of superiority based upon your imagined sense of self-righteousness. You certainly love to dish it out but you can't take it.

You might consider taking some of your own advice regarding sticking with subjects you're informed about. Because you have shown to everyone who has read your hypocritical tripe that you're the epitome of cluelessness and misinformation. It's one thing to be unenlightened, but in your case, you're saddled with this black hole of a closed mind.

Funny that your new avatar prominently displays a ribbon that reads "FREEDOM", yet you are invariably the first person to tell someone what they should or shouldn't say.

It's difficult to determine what is truly uglier:

your mindset or your arrogance.


well look at the bright side...

by IRANdokht on

at least the people who were born here and have no real ties to Iran approve of your criticism.  Congratualtions!

Forget Iran politics and Dr Parsi and Karim Sadjadpour...  Why not write about issues that you're more informed about?  Then people who are also familiar with the topic would encourage you and it would actually mean something ;-)


Kaveh Nouraee

First of all

by Kaveh Nouraee on

These two gentlemen represent their own specific groups. They do not represent everyone.

That being said, they are entitled to express their beliefs and state their positions. And people are certainly entitled to express their beliefs about them, including those in the form of constructive critique we have read here. Be it about style or be it about substance, there is certainly nothing harmful or malicious about Siavash99's observations.

Siavash's article is very relevant, because in this country especially, substance, no matter how important, no matter how relevant, always takes a back seat to style.

And to "Pete and Re-Pete", who have said, "you don't have to say anything if you don't have anything to say".

I say to you....."exactly".

che khabar e

perfect critique!

by che khabar e on

I don't think it was scornful at all!  No different than anyone else giving their "opinion" and that IS still allowed, no?  Stay strong Siavash.  You're right about critic too.   I'd like to hear more from you, a young Iranian-American with a brain who can speak for himself and not follow the latest "voice".  damet garm!



You have more insight...

by eroonman on your little finger than both these self promoting jokes.
Great critique! Too bad they are too busy listening to themselves talk, to her you.

How many arrogant Iranians does it take to stab each other in the back?



Why Mr. Parsi or Sadjadpour?

by Norchi on


 I wonder what side these gentlemen are Iranian people or Iranian Government.What makes them expert?




by Iraniandudeee on

Would you wanna hide your ethnicity or nationality in the first place? You should allways be proud to be an Iranian.


Quoting oneself

by Massive-Bruno on

Siavash99, One may quote oneself if one apologizes in advance: "I hate to quote myself, but I wrote (said, screamed...).

And one must remember that one's mother and father are allowed to quote themselves endlessly without violating any standards of courtesy.

Such quotes start out with "Didn't I tell you that....?" or "I TOLD you that......!" 

Those men are, however, both excellent scholars and educators. I think Trita Parsi probably looked better, though, on tv than he does on the photo you posted, which is also on the book jacket of his book about America, Iran,and Israel, which makes it look as if he's wearing lip rouge.


May I quote you?

by IRANdokht on

Dear Hamfekr, ba ejazeh I am going to repeat what you said:


You don't have to say anything, if you don't have anything to say


These guys are doing what they can to help Iranians and their green movement. Since obviously you're not in a position to make a significant contribution, at least have the decency to allow others who can.  Free speech: Yes, but darivari and especially dangerous kind of darivari like this article should not be free.

Thank you



Starts of the future

by Saman on

Trita, Afshin and Karim are 2 of our many starts...


Next Time In Farsi

by hamfekr on

Remember: Penglish, if you insist on using Latin alphabet, is always available. You need a lot of improvement in both format and substance. And;

You don't have to say anything, if you don't have anything to say.


Little Tweet


by Little Tweet on

siavash99: how come I never get invited to speak with Jim Lehrer! Dammit!

shahin mahdavi

was this article really necessary?

by shahin mahdavi on

people are being killed and tortured in iran and these young men are helping to raise awareness about their plight--they deserve our appreciation not our scorn.