10 things I'm tired of explaining to Americans


by bahmani

For the thousand and one-th time (get it?), I have been in the same position I bet many of you have been in, namely having to explain "The Situation", or how Iran works (or doesn't), to American friends.

To avoid explaining it for the 1001th night (get it?), I will reiterate what I hope explains it once and for all, so we can all get on with it. Whatever "It" is.

I am seriously doubtful that either the US or Iran has the actual intelligence (IQ not spying capacity) to achieve any kind of relationship, peaceful or warlike. I swear, the next break in foreign policy between the 2 biggest nitwits of the international community will likely come when WalMart takes the meeting with that mullah-connected Iranian business mogul currently residing in Dubai.

So, for the last time (being), here's a top 10 list you won't see on Letterman, but things you need to know, so you won't have to ask me all the time;

1) Ahmadinejad is not a real president.
He has absolutely no absolute power. Iranian voters voted for him out of patriotism and for lack of any other approved candidates, in a system they haven't yet figured out is rigged. Kind of like here. But not to worry, he can't fix a parking ticket without the Supreme Leader's official wink. It’s kind of like Star Wars, the Emperor pulls Lord Vader's strings, except in this case, Vader is really a short Force (and wit) less Wookie. They don't let him near ANY sharp policy making objects. Unlike Bush though, he can't order the military to do a single blessed thing. He's just loud, annoying, hilarious, and obnoxious whenever there's Press around. Kind of like Harry Reid is, or Trent Lott used to be. Or for you children of the nineties, think Newt! Should you ever take anything he says seriously? Should CNN, Fox, MSNBC, or any University or the UN ever put a microphone or podium in front of him? Never.

2) The average Iranian is about as loyal to his or her government as the average American redneck.
We too, laugh at the incompetent hand of government as a parade of clowns. The average Iranian, like the average American, is more concerned with the immediate needs of their family and cash flow, than to worry about who's on first. And just like Americans, attack Iranians unprovoked, and the Iranian people will rally around their tri-colored flag too. Homeland Security means the exact same thing over there, as it does here. Think about that slowly.

3) Iran is not normally a hardcore Moslem state.
Most of Iran's history has been non-Moslem. Therefore to assume that all Iranians are born once, or born again Moslems and can quote sweepingly invalid Ghoranic passages or Islamic history for fun and prizes, is false. Most Iranians are about as Moslem as most Americans are Christian or Jewish. Meaning very little. Most Iranians don't fast during the month of Ramazan, and if any do, most don't lose any weight. Even though that's not really the point. And those parades of self whipping, bloodied black shirted, bearded men you see on TV, is a staged religious event. There's food and partying after the cameras are turned off.

4) If you are so proud to be Iranian, why are you here?
Most Iranians came to the US during the 1979 revolution or around 5 years before and 5 years after it. Honestly, most of us came to the US because either we weren't smart enough (Ahem!) to get into the better than US universities in Iran, or we wanted the brand name of a US degree to go back to Iran and rake it in, or we came for political and personal freedom. Freedom was neither readily available under the Shah, nor is it today 30 years after a revolution that was funny enough, specifically advertised to gain freedom. So nothing has changed. In fact Iran and its people have never ever actually been free. So forgive us as we struggle with it for an eon or 2. There has always been some kind of oppressive rule. Some more, some less oppressive than others, but always the firm pressure of unjustified, illegitimate rule over our heads. Occasionally, the nipples and scrotum.

5) The people of Iran did not choose the Shah.
His father, Reza Shah or colonel Reza Khan Pahlavi took over out of frustration from the previous incompetent and corrupt Qajar dynasty, in one of those trendy early 20th century military coups. After WWII, the US arrested Reza Shah and accused him of Nazi sympathy, and banished him without trial to a small island off the coast of South Africa where he died. Then the newly formed office in the US intelligence section started playing with the idea of low cost covert regime change, and Operation Ajax (get it?), and chose his son the Shah to rule Iran so that the US could "clean" out the British (get it?) and secure preferential oil concessions for the US. They were pretty good at this version of the design, because if you look at our history, it's mostly been kings. So to pick a Shah to rule Iran was not that far off of our historical record. The only problem was that the US chose to do it right at a time Iran had figured out how to "Quit Heath Ledger", and switch from "Kingdom" to "Free Will" under Mossadegh. Mossadegh had this crazy idea to bring Jeffersonian democracy to Iran. The Shah, like his father Reza Shah, oppressed religious clerics as a fun hobby, and to modernize Iran. This put a (big) bug in Khomeini's turban, which gave rise to today's equally oppressive but Shiite rule in Iran, which has apparently given Osama Bin Laden the idea of creating a similar United Islamic/Arab Nation, albeit a Sunni version. OK that's a stretch. But is it really?

6) Tehran has snow.
Yep, hard as it is to believe, Tehran's climate pretty much matches Denver's. Just without the Pine trees. Tehran has recorded an almost perfect record of white Christmases in a row. And they sell Christmas trees in the streets of Tehran all through the month of December and even into January when the Armenians in Iran celebrate the real Christmas. Camels? About the only thing Iranians know about camels, is that it is probably wise to walk them a lot, and if you have one, you will need a really big yard to keep them in, although your garden would likely be gorgeous.

7) Iran has Jews.
Second only to the US, the largest population of Jews outside Israel is believed to be in Iran. That being said, they understandably lay pretty low, and don’t brag about it too loudly. Iranian Jews however are more often prouder of being Iranian than Jewish or than other Iranians for that matter. Just go to an Iranian Batmitzvah if you don’t believe me. If that isn’t an Iranian wedding, I don’t know what is.

8) Iran and the US actually used to be great pals at one time.
Almost Brothers. Hard as it is to imagine today, and the whole misunderstanding of the hostage crisis not withstanding, at one time at it's zenith, between 1977 and 1978, over 120,000 Americans lived happily and peacefully in Iran. Over 12,000 as permanent residents, who even owned property. They even smoked a little weed or hash, and could go out for a cocktail, pizza parlor, or the sinful pineapple parfait desserts, at "Chattanooga", one of many top notch restaurants and nightclubs, serving flown in US Prime NY steak which went really well with the now extinct Jumbo Persian Gulf Shrimp, to take the edge of those "hard" 10-3 days at the office. There were baseball leagues in full swing (get it?) in Tehran. Yes, we had Tee-ball, Little, Minor, Major, Pony, Slow and Fast Pitch Adult Softball leagues. Under lights. Anyone could play, you simply had to get a glove and try out. If you caught a game winning flyball, your picture would even be in next weekend's English language newspaper, misspelled name an all. Kasey Kasem played America's Top 40 and American DJ's announced snow days (Yay!) and the morning traffic, and the Eagles crooned in FM stereo. Chicken Man made you laugh out loud in your car. Color TV showed Charlie's Angels, MASH, Mission Impossible (Thanks Reza Badiyi!), Gunsmoke and Bonanza, all commercial free. When the term "Oh Boy!" was spoken in an American TV show, the Iranian TV dubbers translated it literally as "Oh Pesar!" and "Oh Pesar !" became a common colloquial term in modern (70's era) Farsi. We were not always ideological enemies as we portend to be today. Halliburton was a major contractor of the National Iranian Oil Company. The same company that built the Empire State Building in New York, built huge apartment buildings in Tehran. So here's to the wonders of cement and the good old days!

9) Iranian women actually are not subservient and submissive as advertised.
If it weren't illegal, most would not wear a headscarf (hejab). In fact many would agree, Iranian women more often than not, rule the roost if they have an actual roost to rule. Iranian women by nature are the far stronger gender in Iranian society and unlike this new Islamist male dominated social order being sold as typical Iranian society, few know that Iranian women will likely stage the next shift in Iran. When they good and well decide to do so. The only tactic the Iranian government, senior clerics, and policy wogs have to fend this imminent threat off, is to smile that holy Friar Tuck smile, symbolically insert one finger into both ears and pretend women don't exist. Or as I call it the "…La la la la la, I Can't hear you…" technique. And hell hath no fury like an Iranian woman ignored.

10) Iranians are funny.
Unfortunately this is not evident from the spate of recent films that the rest of the world sees during Sundance and Cannes. It seems all we have to show is the sad animated film of a young girl who has her aspiring punk rock career cut short by the revolution. Or an endless supply of incessant whiny Iranian Woman writers' ultra depressing and largely hopeless perspectives on life under, behind, or on top of the veil. It seems all we have to say are the obvious implications of Jihadist cosmetics, in the Persian garden, with or without jasmine or pomegranate-infused overly complex language lamenting yet more boring "my grandmother's life advice". Or the perils and pitfalls of drug addicted prostituting classical Iranian musicians. Sadness, or as I like to call it "The Turquoise Blues", is not as representative of what I know as the true everyday Iranian character. Daily Iranian conversation requires a minimum of 3-5 jokes. 2 of them good ones. And in all of the books written during the past 10 years, there is only one book you need to read to learn how hilariously human Iranians are. "Funny in Farsi", by Firoozeh Dumas. I think it's like down to 3 bucks now, for a used copy, go ahead, you can even get it on Amazon!


more from bahmani

10 things we're all tired of explaining....

by Monda on

I really enjoyed reading your piece! 

The other item that requires much patience for me to explain is OUR generation's position within the Iranian population. Our choob do sar talaa position that is. Your 10 things could lay the grounds for those type discussions as well.

Hah and there was Wolfman Jack too! (not announcing the snow days of course)   




by Anonymous77 (not verified) on

This is brilliant


Dear Mehrpour, I did not sat

by Farhad Kashani (not verified) on

Dear Mehrpour, I did not sat OK only, but the whole south. And I agree with you that NY and CA have religious people too, but I also, like I said in my first posting, said that southern states have non religious people also, including White, Blacks and Hispanics. In the south, even in some small town, you will find Hindu Temples, Gay Bars and Atheist publications, and populations belonging to those groups living freely and practicing their beliefs in freedom. Regards.


Religious Americans in Calif, New York

by Mehrpour (not verified) on

By the way, the Hispanics and African Americans are generally religious. So, even California and New York have plenty of religious people.


Americans = Religious (For Bahmani and Farhad Kashani) Mehrpour

by Mehrpour (not verified) on

Dear Bahmani,

Look at your source: an "on-line" Harris poll as reported by Wikipedia. Note two things: (1) on-line polls are totally unscientific, and (2) anyone can post made-up facts on Wikipedia. (For example, did you know that Sadegh Ghotbzadeh was executed after the Iran-Contra affair? Last I checked, that's what Wikipedia said.) So, you're using one unreliable source to cite another!

If you were following American politics, you would know that about 40 % of the electorate are evangelicals. So, that's your starting point. To that you must add other observant Protestants, observant Catholics, & religious Jews & Mormons.

Dear Farhad,

Oklahoma is not the only religious state. The entire South and the American heartland are religious states.



Mehrpour, what is the

by Farhad Kashani (not verified) on

Mehrpour, what is the population in CA and NY vs OK? The whole entire South Region in the United States (minus Florida) population does not equal LA and NY combined. So Bahmani is right and you’re wrong. Plus, even those Americans whom are religion consider that a personal matter. Yes there are the hardliners, there are the Fallwells and the Robertsons, but the majority of people, and a large portion of the religious community, does want religion in public life and respect other beliefs and religions. Even in Oklahoma, you will see Hindu Temples and Gay clubs and Satanic Churches. Regards


Bahmani, I agree with you on

by R (not verified) on

Bahmani, I agree with you on the point you made as a whole in your message, and I of course agree with it.
As for what the Wikipedia says, which you referred to and the 26%, it says about 80% of the people affiliate with some religion, per the U.S. Census Bureau (scroll down to “Religious Affiliation”):


Yes it may be a case of symanticsb (as to how one should read this), but they do have an "affiliation" and one can disagree on what that exactly entails, but they do * believe * in a certain religion.

In that poll that I mentioned earlier the question was "do you believe in (in any certain) religion" or something close to that, as for the wording. 88% responded yes. Why do you think religion is occasionally referred to (directly or indirectly) by even the Presidents (past and present), to sometimes further their points and to seek support from the religious in society? They must be a considerable portion of society (setting aside if they regularly go to their churches or not).

I'm not arguing with you, just some points (and my last one on this).


Yes, Americans are not religious...

by bahmani on

Maybe you are right and everyone at Harris and Wikipedia are wrong, there's always a possiblity, but here's my source: "...In, a 2006 online Harris Poll of 2,010 U.S. adults (18 and older) found that only 26% of those surveyed attended religious services..." But I do agree that it is likely that more people in Oklahoma and Ardebil would be more religious than People from Tehran and Los Angeles. However my point seems to be lost on you, which is, we are more alike than is being advertised by both governments.


Ey-ranians are mooftkhoor

by Javadagha (not verified) on

The majority of Ey-ranians are mooftkhoor.

The majority of Ey-ranians care about what dress they wear, what cars they or others drive, and where they live. The majority of Ey-ranians are tarsoo, shekamo, boozo (American word for Alcoli), and mooftkhoor.

Take a look at the restaurants, concerts, to see how Ey-ranians line up by thousands, but these mooftkhoors will not participate in a worthy cause to help a worthy cause.


Great points

by farokh2000 on

Thanks for writing this.

I do agree with almost all your points, except I would have to say that Americans are actually more religious than Iranians are. Just add up all the people in the Bible Belt and you will get a lot more pretenders here than you do back home.

I really don't think there are any real religious people out there, anywhere. They are just selfish, greedy and ignorant rednecks who think they are religious, and would like everyone else to think their way. If you don't belive in what they do, then you must be an Athiest or stupid.

That is NOT really what any religion teaches.


Well done! I have had to

by MM (not verified) on

Well done! I have had to explain even more things to my own kids. They love both countries (U.S, and Iran). We need to educate our kids and our friends about rich Iranian culture. My kids are well aware of what they see in the news media is NOT a true picture of Iran.


Not that it matters, but for

by R (not verified) on

Not that it matters, but for the sake of being correct.

Most Americans are VERY religious.
According to a poll taken which I heard in some TV program (or news program?) a year or two ago, 88% of Americans are religious and practice their religion consistently, the majority are Christians of different denominations. In the city I live in there are churches within every several blocks and in all directions on the main roads.
This has been my general observation also.

It also noted that Americans are more religious than Europeans as a whole.

In the poll, I don't think Americans had to "lie" about their position on practicing their religion or not.

(and before anyone tries to make some questionable connection about my comment to Iran, I was speaking of America, not Iran)


To Mehrpour: What are you

by bird flu (not verified) on

To Mehrpour: What are you trying to prove by insisting that Iranian are relgious? Praying makes one religious? Or do you think people actually tell the truth about being religious or not religious when they are surveyed??? Have you read the book, "how to lie with statistics"?


Censorship and Freedom of Speech

by Anonymous6 (not verified) on

JJ and other admin,
Freedom of speech/expression is an absolute right in this society.

In your site you pretend to be an advocate of it by saying nothing is scared (what a joke!). Practically you are much worse than Mullahs. They don’t know anything better, you know and with your censorship with no real reason, downgrading yourself to the same level as mullahs!

This is my opinion that 'Ying Yang Paintings' in main page of Iranian.com is a trashy painting, and you don’t have any tolerance to hear it.

Go head again and delete my comment again as you did for past 12 hours.

Now is not the painting anymore it is your action and censorship that portrait you to the same low level as Mullahs


Americans are not religious? Incorrect! :-)

by Mehrpour (not verified) on

Oh, and another misconception is your statement that most Americans are not religious. Obviously, you haven't spent much time in places like Oklahoma or the South. I visited Oklahoma, and nearly everybody there is deeply religious. If you go there from New York City or LA, it's like going to another country. The place is more religious than Tehran.



Most Iranians ARE Religious (World Values Survey, U.N.)

by Mehrpour (not verified) on

Here is a paradox: if you ask a secular Iranian, he will tell you most Iranians are *not* religious. If you ask a religious Iranian, he'll tell you most Iranians *are* religious.

The solution to the paradox is to consult the "World Values Survey," which has been conducted by the U.N. According to it, most Iranians perform their prayers and consider themselves religious.

For this reason, I believe that you're mistaken.


Darius Kadivar

Bruce EUREKA you gave me an idea ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

Why not work together on Iranian Things for Dummies like this show about all things Greek :

PART I ( Go to Middle :








russia has more Jews than Iran, but i think iran comes 2nd

by Anonymous_Flowers (not verified) on

iran in the middle east has the largest community of Jews outside of Israel, and thers a bunch out here in los angeles. and your missing another one...*life under the shah was RELATIVELY better for women and minorities. ok lets not fool ourselves. and its rather presumptious to think that iranians ...the 60& under 35 years WOULD RALLY AROUND KHAEMENI! thats absurd...they arent giving up their lives for freedom now what makes you think they're going to give it up for the regime. doesn't make sense...but then again iranian politics has never made any sense!


Not only Americans!

by Kamangir on

I liked your article and the issues you've raised. I would only like to add that these same 10 questions and issues are to be repeated and repeated to Europeans, Austaralians as well. I've lived outside Iran for the las 22 years, mostly in Europe and now in North America and can tell you that 'some' Americans are even better informed about Iran than many Europeans.

Ba sepas



Nazy Kaviani

The Phantom Generation

by Nazy Kaviani on

Hi Bruce!

I'm glad you're writing again. And boy, I can almost see your keyboard on fire! A very good piece, funny, nostalgic, and fair.

When we were growing up, the most powerful person in our household was my mother. If I could pass through her very strenuous scrutiny, I could leave the house to go anywhere and do anything. I participated in bowling championships in Tehran, and hosted an American exchange student in our house one summer. The friendship between Iranians and Americans was evident in every community, every office, and every street corner in Tehran.

Having seen those days, and the ones that followed, and living in a state of constant vigilance over the news and hateful rhetoric in the world these days, it is quite natural for people of our generation to occasionally become schizophrenic, thinking that all of that may have been but a phantom, a dream.

Refraining from making excuses for the inexcusable rhetoric we hear out of Iran, we walk a thin line defending the people of Iran who are full of life and interest about the world, privately critical of their rulers and publicly apathetic to politics. I agree with you in how depressing it has been to read bestsellers and watch movies by Iranians who tell of depressing facts about Iran. Even though many of them speak the truth, there is no joy in reading or seeing them for us.

We are the generation that has had to endure a constant state of schizophrenia for 30 years, the generation stretched in every conceivable which way, left having to answer the repeated questions of not just Americans, but young Iranians, including our own children! I will use your post as my cheat sheet at the next Q and A session! Thank you.


Admin who erases the comments

by Anonymous6 (not verified) on

Bias admin who erases the comments,

This is called freedom of speech:
Ying Yang art in main page of Iranian.com are trashy paintings.

Now go ahead and erase this comment again.


you said it!

by IRANdokht on

yes you said it all... I seem to be explaining the same exact issues over and over again too.

I use to take pride in being the good will ambassador to all my American friends, until I realized each and every time they turn on their TV they get bombarded by the negative image of Iran and Iranians, and I had to start explaining all over again.

our generation is the most misunderstood! we grew up with the pop culture of the west, most left the country when it did not resemble the one we grew up in and now we're all stuck in a dilemma of remembering our roots, having adapted to our host country where we lived as long if not longer than our own country and not belonging %100 to any geographical and cultural plane.

sometimes these explanations serve us as a reminder of who we are...


Mohammad Ala

Thanks for your time and efforts.

by Mohammad Ala on

Behruz jaan;

Thanks for your reminders.  Our country and people have gone through a lot.  We need you to help our community to come together both in Iran and other countries to be the best we can be.   

Thanks for your time and efforts.