Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A New Note From Iran, Plus My Rambling Thoughts

I recently emailed my business associate in Iran, Ali, to see how he's doing during the latest anti-government protests in Iran. I am concerned, because in December 2009, he was shot in the face by Iranian police during a protest in Tehran and lost his vision as a result. We had not spoken much about politics, but since he's a dissident against the Iranian government and does business with an American company, I am certain he is on some government blacklist and may be the target of round-ups, jailing or interrogation. I am sure there are many others in Iran like Ali, considering that the NY Times recently reported that around 4,000 American companies do business in Iran (we are forbidden by US law, of course, to have any dealings with Iranian government-owned banks, freight companies, distributors, etc).

Below is the email Ali sent me today after my inquiry. I found it inspiring, especially since this fight for democracy and freedom is not happening in the text of a school book, or pontificated about by western pundits who have no experience with what it takes to bring down a bad government, and the real dangers and risks to health and life that that entails.

Mind you, Ali wrote this email with some kind of special audio program or personal assistance because he has lost the use of his eyes as a direct results of his political beliefs and actions:

"Dear (Lonnie)

I’m very pleased to hear that you as a friend and human being are concerned about your friends and the other people living in the other parts of the world, since just sharp and kind people have this kind of attitude. I'm really happy to have such a friend in a big country named America.

Considering the recent news in Iran, I have to say that aware people who want to establish a democratic and liberal government in Iran are trying to get this goal without making any disturbance in the society since they have had the experience of 1979 revolution and are now well-informed. Of course, the present governors, or better to say dictators, with their theological, fanatic and fascism ideas are a big obstacle for the people to get their ideals. They use the worst possible behavior, in another word disturbance, torture and murder in response to people’s questions and demands.

Hope that Iranian people who have experienced 1979 revolution can achieve their goals and have a government who is selected with the true votes of the people; a democratic - not theocratic - government, and also having aware, liberate, and happy people worldwide.

Thanks again for your kind feelings.

Best regards,


I feel proud to know Ali and do business with him. These are the kinds of people who need to be strengthened and given support -- even if it's something as small as an email saying that people around the world are watching and give our solidarity.

In my experience doing business in various countries, the view of America is a very good one. We do a lot of business in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, etc., and in all of these places we proudly tell people we are from the United States and the response is always positive, with comments that the US is a "great country". The opinion that you hear so often in the US that people in other countries "hate us", in my experience, is complete and utter bullshit. And we did business with the largest Muslim country on earth (Indonesia) all through Bush's presidency.

What happened in Egypt and continues in Iran is not dissimilar from what started in Tiananmen Square in 1989 (recall that those students erected a mock Statue of Liberty). Some of these realities may even sound cliche, but these folks generally do look to the USA as an ideal to be achieved, despite all our imperfections. Even though the people may not have the USA specifically in mind, the want of freedom and democracy is a natural human desire, not just unique to western countries. Ali's email above is just one example. And in my opinion, US programs that allow Iranians to have direct contact and sales with American businessmen only strengthen civil society and those who battle for liberty against the worst odds and do not give up -- even after being shot in the god damn FACE by government thugs.

The worst course for US policy would be to cut off these heroes from all foreign contact, so you end up with a place like North Korea which is nearly hermetically sealed from the outside world and the population is so brainwashed and subservient that they believe and parrot the government's lies, and any popular opposition is non-existent and highly unlikely any time in the foreseeable future. How sad that would be.

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