Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Would that we had more like her.

Iranian-Americans celebrate new year holiday

The Associated Press

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Sometimes, children look at Setareh Golzarian with fear. She has the dark eyes and olive skin of a Middle Easterner, and she wears a hijab — a Muslim hair scarf.

"They sometimes look at me like, 'Oh, no. She's one of them," Golzarian said. "I am one of 'them.' That makes me different, but really, we're not that different. In many ways we are the same.

"There is one God, and we all share that God. Why fight?"

With tensions rising between the United States and her native Iran, Golzarian, 29, is trying to get the word out early that Iranians aren't inherently bad. With the Iranian new year's celebration, or Norooz, pending, she wanted to give a peek into the life of Iranian-Americans.

The Alabama Islamic Education Center in Huntsville, with which Golzarian is involved, hosted a community-wide Norooz party Sunday evening. She said the holiday is as big to Iranians as Christmas, except this holiday doesn't have religious implications.

Norooz signifies the moment that winter's cold gives way to a living, hopeful season, and it coincides with the Western world's beginning of spring.

All of the traditional symbols — illustrating birth, health and prosperity — were on display, and Farsi music played in the background while young children played on the floor, watching a cartoon on the Disney Channel.

Golzarian has celebrated Norooz every year since she came to the United States to marry Javad, who was completing his medical residency here. With the birth of each of their four children, the holiday gained more meaning.

But this year's celebration has a significance all its own. This is the year she called The Times so she could talk about how Iranians decorate eggs and give gifts and eat sweets on a holiday.

"Understanding comes gradually," she said. "It comes in a series of steps.

"If you see me in public with my hijab and you wonder why I wear it, ask me. Don't just walk away and think something bad about me."

Good advice, as well as is realizing that understanding works both ways.

Kids give Amish and Mennonites strange looks, and in areas that are mostly Protestant, Catholic nuns and priest get a wary eye, too. In part, this is based upon the seemingly odd manner of dress affected by these folks, both of the men and the women. But what has to be remembered, however uncomfortable it might be to say it, is that a world-wide jihad has been launched against Western civilization, and it's not the Amish who launched it.

I do not hold that all Muslims are potential jihadis, no more than I hold that all Christians are potential Klansmen. But the good and peaceful practitioners of Islam have to come to a realization that came hard to folks around here--quietly pursing your lips and expressing whispered disdain for bad people who make a mockery of God, while still accomodating or enabling their actions in the name of misplaced brotherhood, is a recipe for misery.

To some people, the fact that I am a Christian, Southern, white, man makes me automatically suspect of the worst hatreds imaginable, and admittedly, there's a lot of baggage there. But you know what? I don't take it personally. I don't whine and complain and protest about how unfair it all is.

And I think Setareh Golzarian has the right idea.

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