As soon as Iranian expats began protesting at Iranian embassies around the world I started to have this feeling like something was terribly amiss, and the feeling intersected with a debate I’ve been hosting in my head over whether to leave my fellow Americans to their fates and emigrate elsewhere or to stay and fight to fix our terribly fractured society.
It made sense why these came to be connected immediately: if I were to give up and leave the fight to be fought by others, how could I ever come back? And if I’m not willing to fight for my place in this country, what right could I have to expect others to fight in my place for my benefit?
As I watch video clips of anti-regime protests at Iranian embassies abroad, I find myself almost enraged by the impotence of their spectacle. Just what good do they presume to do? A show of solidarity? What value is that within Iran? The internet is off, so most Iranians probably don’t even know about them. Why aren’t they going back to Iran in a show of genuine solidarity and taking to the streets they have left to be the change themselves? Are they waiting for others to do it for them? Do they expect to be able to go home after others have fought in their place for their benefit? How could there ever be an after with the number of Iranian expats around the world who are powerless outside the borders of Iran?
I try to envision it for myself: would there even be a question in my mind of smuggling myself into a place I’d managed to escape as oppressive as Iran? I almost don’t think so. But I’m noble like that, so probably the question would come to me anyway. But in any case, it is a hopeless situation for these expats who have to watch like the rest of us with anxiety plaguing them especially hard. I feel for them and their families. The choice they made to leave could not have been easy, even as it seems so easy to us with our privileged position. The question of return can only be so urgent on my mind because I have the privilege of having never experienced the kind of perpetual state of exile that Iranian emigrants must feel as an everyday condition.
Ps. ‘Mahsa’ was the Persian name given to her by authorities who are attempting to stamp out the Kurdish population. Her Kurdish, ie given, name was Zhina/Jina. SAY HER NAME!
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