I am a 64 year old woman who married an Iranian in 1967 and went to Iran and continued into Afghanistan and other nearby countries during the 1970’s. Interestingly I was in Kabul in 1978 when the government was overthrown and was very surprised that tourtists were asked to leave the day before the revolution as if it were a staged event. Now I have seen the horrors that have happened in Afghanistan increase every year...............this is the beginning of my comments. By the way I have a degree in Islamic History of Iran from UC Santa Cruz, California and wrote a thesis on how the Islamic ullamah took charge of the Iranian country in 1979; in other words: why they won.
Reading these articles about current affairs in Afghanistan is very disturbing to me. Like so many other people my age who went to your area during the "hippy" years of the 1960’s to 1980’s — we fell in love with the Afghan people and culture. I had been working for the Shah of Iran’s Pahlavi Foundation; Northrop Page Communication (who installed the satellite system in Iran) as secretary to the VP of Marketing and the President and also for a wealthy Greek/Iranian shipping/port building firm in Tehran. I had taken the time to learn Farsi and associate with the common people at the bazaar and mosque area.
I soon found out the contempt my bosses and other Americans had for the local people. It was fine with them to see children carrying huge piles of bricks to build their office in the middle of winter with no shoes except newspapers wrapped around their feet. It was fine with them to say they never hire Moslems unless they have no other choice. It was fine with them to act like overweight rich people in front of starving skinny citizens of Iran who worked long hours for almost nothing. It was fine with them to scream and shout at vendors in the Bazaar to "speak English goddamit". They shipped everything they needed from America to Iran and that included extra parts for their cars; washing machines and virtually everything to make a palace for themselves in Iran while poorly paid maids and gardeners waited on them hand and foot. Iranians were seen as a bunch of ignorant donkeys unless they had lots of money to spend. The way they drove their cars; the way the women looked — everything was a topic of abuse and humor to these rich Americans I knew so well.
While working for the VP of Marketing of Northrop Page in their executive offices in Tehran I came in one morning and said to Pope who was the President: "Salam" — he shouted at me: "Don’t speak raghead in here!"
I soon realized that rich Americans and rich Europeans lived a totally luxurious lifestyle in Iran and bragged about the cheapness of their servants and workers. There was also the contingent of rich Iranians educated in the West who fit in nicely with the rich Americans and had the same basic attitude towards the common people. This disgusted me. Aren’t I the person who marched with Martin Luther King in 1962 while living in a totally racist town in Ohio. Do you remember the song, "Five Dead on the Ohio"? Well that is about how the military shot students who were demonstrating against the Viet Nam war. Now they have us so confused we don’t know who to demonstrate for or against.
Thus it was that eventually I came back to California and got a degree from University of California Santa Cruz in the subject of Iran/Islam by writing on my own experiences. I read every book or article about Iran written in English and came to the conclusion the Islamic ullamah won control of the people due to the fact that they were the only helpers of the poor majority in Iran: giving Iranians bread and food and help when nobody else did.
Meanwhile in Santa Cruz, something was happening that shocked me. The poor people of the town were being beaten and rounded up and abused and jailed for nothing as Santa Cruz was getting rich and the rich don’t like to see the poor being poor in America. The solution is to beat them into submission. About this time the Federal Government declared war on its own American people with the "War on Drugs."
Women were raped by the jailers while they were incarcerated over possession of marijuana. People were beaten and taken out of their cars where they had to live. The police acted like violent sick maniacs over the smallest issues. Any poor-looking person seen walking on the University campus was stopped, interrogated and treated abusively..........in short I discovered a new era of police brutality in California.
I see this brutality as a long term effort of the rich to destroy and use the poor in America. In one report I wrote I discovered that 90% of the poorest people in California are women and children. Women are kept at poverty level by receiving small welfare checks and food stamps and threatened with prison if they lie about their income or get more than enough to barely survive. Children were often removed from their mothers by abusive Social Workers for almost no reason and the government paid unexamined Foster Homes to take care of these poor children. Foster parents often used these children just as a source of free labor and income. I became a person shocked by the social unfairness in my own country...........and soon discovered there were many others who felt the same way.
Now in 2010 I see that the personalities and types of army people going to Afghanistan are just like these abusers I know so well from California. In fact, I have sat in coffee houses near the military bases and overheard soldiers from low to higher class speaking of their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. On a few occasions I had to stand up and defend Iranians and Islam due to the horrible bloody comments being made against them by these idling American soldiers.
One of their big comments is always "how women are treated so badly by Moslems". That is always my opportunity to stand up and say: "Send me back there right this minute because I was treated way better in Moslem countries than I am here in America." A big deal is made over Afghan or other moslem women wearing the veil or coverings.
"Please remember", I tell them; "that Catholic nuns in America wore similar clothes as a sign of sanctity and respect." Or I just go for the entertaining comeback comment of: "well if sunlight causes skin cancer then I guess women who wear coverings in the desert won’t get skin cancer".......so it is a good thing. Meanwhile, almost daily, I am verbally attacked and shunned for not wearing a bra — (I can’t because of a hernia at that area). They seem to think that if the form of an unharnessed breast is seen that it is an evil forbidden crime.
There are even times when people call the police because a woman is breast feeding her baby in public. Afghans should realize that actually there are conservatives in America who are way way worse than the supposed Taliban conservatives. And what is worse; there are "bigots" in America who are silently and massively shipping themselves to the MIddle East to hopefully exterminate anybody who isn’t into their brand of violent social control: meaning of course all Moslems.
I’ve noticed recently that the words: Taliban, Al-Qaida, insurgent, etc, are all used to describe any person who does not agree with the NATO or American goals in Afghanistan. It is hard for a logical person to believe that there is some club they all belong to or that their goal is simply to terrorize everybody into becoming Moslem. But these are the kinds of myths widely believed in America. I am constantly amazed to hear the brazenly ignorant and violent remarks made against the countries and religions of the Middle East. It is as if these type of Americans never opened a history book or a social sciences book about how the American Constitution and its Bill of Rights is meant as a model for all people.
Almost daily I have to stand up and defend Moslems. All around me I hear the most violent and murderous attitudes towards the whole Middle East including Afghanistan. I have followed the Internet news media and was grateful to find Kabulpress, as I keep looking for a real Afghan opinion place. Every article I have seen on here hits at my heart of truth and justice. Every time I hear of a death of one single person I am sick and sometimes cry and sob about the unfairness. I recently shouted at a man trying to collect my student loan monies for the federally insured student loan program: "I’ll pay my loan back if you quit killing Afghans." My pleas go unheard and I am dismissed as a quack and weirdo; an old hippy woman; a gypsy; a stupid Moslem.
One of the articles here asked why nobody is speaking up about the deaths caused by the Taliban, etc. On the one hand I can see how wrong and horrible the occupation of Afghanistan is; but on the other hand in many of the articles they are asking for our help and want us over there. If that is the case then they need to realize that in truth American women are not treated well either; in truth American policemen often kill and beat people to death here; in truth American society is not the perfect little heaven that some think it is. I am daily fighting my own war against the dominant people who rule everywhere.
I have come to realize that the reason the dominant people rule is because people like me who are thinkers do not know how to grab political and military power. I have studied the Clintons, Bushes and all the rest and have my own negative opinions of them, including Obama. Please observe that they have never lived in the Middle East; speak none of your languages and have no sympathy for your poor except to get cheap labor and use them as "poster people" for the huge amounts of money, profit and power they are getting out of their occupation of Afghanistan. The death of a poor village girl is no more important to them than using a poor Afghan house they wreck and use as a toilet. The Blackwater thugs remind me of the violent police who destroyed homes looking for a little marijuana plant or the violent policemen who shoot mentally ill people on their front porch because they are talking to themselves. (This has happened many times in America).
I appreciate the fact that writers here on asking the right questions. Why don’t we respond to the violence in Afghanistan? Perhaps we are busy responding to the violence and repression here in our own backyards.
Julia Afaghi Simmons is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz 1983 and a recent convert to Islam. She is a 64 year old woman who has actually lived in Middle East and made effort to appreciate their beautiful cultures. She also is very sad that the same type of people who treat others badly here are now going to Afghanistan to practice their art of power rich versus "ignorant poor" to make their fortunes and their elite repression and control of the politics and social lives of anybody they can profit from in any violent way that it takes. I represent Native American tribes in my voice: Don’t force tribal people to be exactly like a clone of typical dominators. Don’t steal their land and don’t wreck their poor homes and force them into camps. Don’t mess with their religion and don’t mess with their women. Is that too much to ask?