Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Iranians abroad and 300

I have not seen 300 but most of my friends did, from what I read about the movie and the comic book I have a general picture about it. This is not the movie that I want to write about since I have found overseas Iranians’ and Iranian-Americans’ reaction far more interesting. Iranian communities in the States have reacted to 300 by starting petitions and writing several articles (to read a few) condemning the movie as a biased misrepresentation of Persians, another move in a media warfare and another calculated step in a conspiracy against “Persians”. These allegations might be true; however this is not the only misrepresentation of Persians or Iranians in media.

Several articles that appear almost daily in media, documentaries and even movies all are doing a nice job of biased misrepresentation of Iranians. Not many reacted or react as strongly to them. Even certain groups benefit from such misrepresentations and they themselves help media to produce such biased material. Then why 300 has attracted so much attention?

During last three decades many Iranians abroad have been introducing themselves as “Persians” severing any connection to contemporary Iran, seeking security in an ancient identity that quite frankly many do not know what exactly it was. Iranians abroad have avoided the negative externalities of Iran’s negative image in the media by considering themselves to be Persians. They consider themselves to be victims of another invasion and have washed their hands from Iran and its affairs. For them 300 is condemned since it soiled the image of glorious ancient Persia by imaging it as an imperial power and a massed army of untrained infantry coming to halt in front of 300 Spartans in a narrow pass by Athens. For them this is unforgivable.

To tell the truth, we are Iranians; our identity is based on two pillars of ancient Persia and Islam. In denying one and seeking refuge in another one there is no permanent peace. Ironically Persian Empire of Achaemenids was as much as a rival of west, represented by Greeks, as Islamic Republic of Iran is today. And to be honest for the sake of truth, many Iranians abroad are as illiterate about Achaemenids as they are about contemporary Iran. May be it is time to learn a few things about Iran. The pride is in knowledge not in battles, as an ancient nation we have won many and have lost many. Iranians outnumbered in Thermopolis but were outnumbered in Chalderan[1].

[1] Chalderan plain is located west of Tabriz where on August 23rd, 1514 an Iranian (Persian) army of 27’000 opposed an invading Ottoman army, numbered 200’000 armed with muskets and heavy artillery, 300 pieces of them. Iran’s cavalry and infantry were armed with spears, bows, swords and 1500 muskets and no artillery. Only 300 Iranian Cavalrymen survived the day.


Anonymous said...

After reading your article I think you need some more reading about your heritage and history. I am not going to say much but you shouldn’t be writing such a misinformed article about something so sensitive to our hearts without proper understanding.

We have always been Iranians and will always be Iranians. If we sometimes clarify our nationality by saying Persian it is because West knows Iran only as Persian until Reza Shah asked the UN to change their Naming to Iran. As such Persian has been used up-until recently (40-50 years) to call Iran. The Persian Name of Iran has nothing to do Pre-Islamic time; and confusing it would be a serious mistake especially for an Iranian such a s yourself. Persia was the Western name of Iran since its establishment up until Reza Shah.

So before going on about two Pillars of Islam and Iran, get your facts straight. We are always Iranian and we will always be Persians.

Ali said...

with all due respect the change of name happened 70 years ago, the generations we are dealing with know only Iran, Persia is an ancient country to them and we have done a poor job creating the connection. I am simply saying the misleading is not limited to 300 however when media portrayed a dramatically dark picture of Iran of today, many choose to be silent and many even provide material for such propaganda in many cases, fictional material. You surely recall the report about minorities wearing badges was initiated by an Iranian. I also am surprised that you have not noticed that i wrote Ancient Persia! not Iran and Islam. My facts are straight, but you do need to improve your reading skills.