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Like many of you, I have been a proud supporter of Ross (Rostam) Mirkarimi. Like all of you I have been shocked, shaken, and stunned to my soul, by the recent events we have all read, heard, gossiped, rumored, and agonized over. When the first news came out in early January 2012, I put in a call to Ross to find out firsthand what the hell was happening. No answer at first, then about a week later a short text came back, "Can't talk right now, will call you later."
Later became April 15, 2012. when I finally spoke to Ross and was both shocked and relieved to finally hear the story from his side. I just posted a piece on the details of this tragedy (See: Ross Mirkarimi's Case in San Francisco: //iranian.com/main/2012/may/hearing-ross-...) There are several aspects to this story that indeed make it a tragedy;
First, is the realization that innuendo and allegation can wield enough power to momentarily distract Truth. Neutralize it in a corner, stepping on its throat, with no seeming way out. Regardless of what you will read, nothing but nothing can really convince you now to 100% of Ross' innocence. The great crime is that this has likely been shaken forever. If the allegation is entirely false, it still somewhat wins and does not completely lose. Because proving innocence completely beyond a shadow of a doubt, sometimes, is simply not possible. No one but God can really know what happened. And she never talks.
Second, if this is as false an allegation it sounds, and is the elaborate political smear campaign that it smells like, we as Iranians are ultimately the real losers. For any and all the political civic participation gains we have made, are now less, if not neutralized altogether. For if they can unseat Ross like this, on NoRooz no less, then who pray, amongst us would risk their family, and reputation to run for any office anywhere in the US now?
It is important to begin by reviewing Ross' background and bio before going into the details you need to know, to make your own decision. Because given the 50/50 we seem to be on Ross now, if you are going to bail on him, you need to know the full list of what you are about to give up, and possibly lose forever. Take your stock carefully now;
Ross first made the headlines as an Iranian-American political figure, when he ran the 2003 Matt Gonzalez campaign for Mayor of San Francisco, against Gavin Newsom. The race was far closer than the Newsom campaign imagined, and resulted in a surprise second run-off election. But Newsom spending nearly $5M to Gonzalez' $1M, won by barely less than 150,000 votes, and went on to be a hugely popular mayor. Gonzalez (sort of) retired from politics, but Ross had made his mark, enough that he took over Gonzalez' San Francisco seat as City Supervisor representing District 5. The famous and infamous Haight-Ashbury district. Historically especially during the Sixties, the very bastion of San Francisco and American progressive politics. Prophetic for us undoubtedly.
We have seen Ross mostly in this position, the smiling, confident, highest elected Iranian-American in the US, and he has been there for us like a Pahlavan of old, since. Our aspirations for Ross have risen with each mayoral race, as we wondered when he would finally jump in, and like he always does with reserved purpose and measured endurance, become the first Iranian-American Mayor of a major US city.
In the recent election however, Ross surprised and stunned many of us, by not running for the Mayor's office this time, and instead, the puzzling spot as Sheriff of San Francisco instead. Of course, he won. He always does. No one really knows if this was part of some wily plan to eventually run for Mayor from the side angle of Sheriff, or simply a logical step for Ross, who has always been a staunch advocate of law enforcement, having graduated from the Police Academy himself early in his career.
On a community note, Ross, ever proud of his half-Iranian heritage, delivered to us possibly the greatest NoRooz gift of all in 2006, when he began the tradition of hosting a massive NoRooz celebration in the very Rotunda of San Francisco City Hall no less, with the Mayor, the city Supervisors, and other local and national dignitaries in eager and willing tow. To watch traditional Iranian dancers and music, learn about the magical Haft Seen and NoRooz traditions, taste our many delicious foods, and of course experience first hand our famous Iranian hospitality.
Since then each year, Iranians have looked forward to sharing NoRooz in San Francisco City Hall with America. This is thanks almost entirely to Ross and the teams of inspired Iranian-American supporters, young and old volunteers, and activists that he has recruited, rallied and mentored each year, to encourage us to stand up, get involved, and be proud of being Iranians.
In 2009 at the height of the Green movement protests in Iran and the betrayal of the Iranian people and their rights, after the brutal slaying of Neda Agha-Soltan on the smoking streets of Tehran, Ross spoke passionately, angrily, and tearfully to the Green rally at the UN Plaza in San Francisco, about the tragic events in Iran, encouraging the protesters to never give up, and to continue to be inspired, and drive on through the seeming hopelessness of that time. With absolutely nothing to gain personally or politically, given few San Francisco voters if any, in the crowd of gathered outraged Iranians.
The next steps? Yours to take. Do your own research. Make up your mind.
Outraged at a seeming political railroad campaign? Or, convinced of spousal abuse? One thing is certain. Fair trial, and fair day in court aside, and is one thing. But having to also fight for your basic rights, in bias-filled unofficial courts of public opinion, rumor, and innuendo, as is being done now, is plain wrong.
What is needed now is for all of us each to conduct our own fair review of the full events, and the full facts without bias, without fear, and above all without prejudice. Then do whatever it is that we will individually or as a group, do.
"I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan – the way he'd stood up for me all those times in the past – and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run."
- Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner.
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