This Is Iran, Too
Thank you so much for your coverage of Iran and the Iranian diaspora in this week’s issue [Jan. 5–11]. I especially loved Mehammed Mack’s profiles and Nayer Khazeni’s essay. We’re not a particularly well-known diaspora group, even in Los Angeles, where we are so numerous, so I am grateful for the exposure these features provide and hope they foster greater understanding of some of our community’s history and challenges, especially in these troubled times. And it’s always nice to have Iranians besides Ahmadinejad in the news.
Both Sides Now
I loved the article about Dr. Maher Hathout [“An American Muslim,” Jan. 5–11]. I admire your courage to print it despite the widespread trend of Islamophobia in mainstream media.
As the former associate director of the American Jewish Congress and the current associate director of StandWithUs, I have to object to Maher Hathout’s mischaracterizations of the organizations who opposed his receiving the John Allen Buggs Award.
Mr. Hathout reportedly said, “The opposition was mostly coming from certain subgroups of the Jewish community who don’t represent the mainstream, mainly the ZOA and the American Jewish Congress.”
The American Jewish Congress is hardly a nonrepresentative “subgroup.” It is a venerable organization founded at the turn of the last century by Louis D. Brandeis and Stephen S. Wise to fight the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States. The organization’s history is well known to leaders and supporters of democracy worldwide. It has worked on Capitol Hill, pushing for congressional legislation on human and civil rights, and its leaders walked beside Dr. Martin Luther King when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Last year, the AJ Congress defended the right of a young Ohio Muslim schoolgirl to wear her hijab to school while still upholding its staunch commitment to the separation of church and state. Mr. Hathout obviously never took the time to Google the Congress, nor did your reporter. Unfortunately, out of ignorance or willful misrepresentation, Mr. Hathout seems to try to discredit and marginalize any organization or individual who expresses concern about his views and rhetoric through ad hominem attacks to avoid addressing the context of those concerns.
There were hecklers in the audience — from both sides — during the heated debates. Our organizations were not involved in this heckling, and we cannot take responsibility for these individuals’ use or misuse of First Amendment rights. However, we proudly take responsibility for opposing giving the John Allen Buggs Award to a man who called Israelis “butchers,” made speeches discouraging Arab countries from holding peace talks with Israel and has publicly supported many extremist anti-Israel groups. We are aware that he was a keynote speaker at a rally in front of the federal building this past summer where the demonstrators were chanting “Long live Hezbollah,” which is something from which Maher Hathout has thus far not distanced himself.
If your paper is serious about these issues, you should give all the organizations Mr. Hathout mentioned in this article an opportunity to respond and present the reasons for their objections.
Allyson Rowen Taylor
High MC5 to Johnny Angel
About the Johnny Angel article [“Rock Docs Are Go!” Dec. 22–28]: Very smart to mention the masterpiece MC5: A True Testimonial. Well deserved. (Too bad about it, tho; great film about stupid pricks.) But ’cha shoulda used the right image with the story. Not the cover of some pile of shit called Kick Out the Jams. Ugh.
FYI: Angel complained too. —Editor
Thanks for Asking
Just an e-mail to let you know that I enjoy reading “¡Ask a Mexican!” The columns are informative and funny and go a long way to increase the awareness of gringos with regard to Americans of Mexican descent, Mexican and Central American immigrants, and all Latinos. It’s one of your best columns.