The hoopla over Ahmad Khomeini II’s social media presence beats me—progressives gushing over the Instagram pictures of Khomeini junior puzzles me. To me Ahmad Khomeini is no different than what Reza Pahlavi and other members of the Pahlavi dynasty were during the previous regime. Celebrating the young offspring of Khomeini’s “dynasty” is no less troubling to witness among those who otherwise seem to defend the democratic aspirations of people in Iran.
Left to Right: Henry Kissinger and Reza Pahlavi II (1970s). Ahmad Khomeini II with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (2013).
Reza Pahlavi II and Ahmad Khomeini II facebook pages.
Left to Right: Mohammad Reza Pahlavi with his son Reza Pahlavi II (1967). Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his grandson Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, Ahmad’s father (early 1980s).
“The Pursuit of Happyness" starring Will Smith and his son is a 2006 Hollywood film based on the true story of an American father’s struggle with homelessness. The film received mostly positive reviews by film critics and was nominated for all the major cinematic awards. But I’m still suspicious of anyone liking it, let alone loving it.
The moral of the story is that by being a relentless genius, working ungodly hours to prove your worth to predatory capitalists, you can save your child and yourself from a life of poverty, indignity and homelessness PLUS become a millionaire!
But what if you’re not a relentless genius? What if you were born into destitution or war, denied basic education, nutrition and healthcare? Or what if you had just had an accident and lost your job and your home—what then? What if you can’t reach your full potentials because of years of abuse or neglect—are you still expected to compete with people born into good health, parenting and relatively safer environment? Are you still entitled to happYness (read as the right to living a life worthy of a human being)?
Watching this film, I have always wondered what happened to all those other homeless folks that Will Smith and his son encounter as they go from rags to riches. What happens to them?
In New York City where I live the homeless population is now at its highest level since the Great Depression. Over 16 million children struggle with hunger in the US and over 47 million non-elderly Americans lacked health insurance in 2012.
'Fake' Sign Language Interpreter Marred Mandela Memorial
It is easy to empathize with the outrage felt by the deaf community over “the appearance on stage Monday of a man who they say was only pretending to do sign language interpretation as President Obama and other world leaders eulogized Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa.”
This horrible story reminds me of the George W. Bush era and the exact same way some of us felt reading and watching fake “Iran” or “Islam” or “Middle East” so-called experts (read as native informers) recklessly misinterpreting the facts on the ground. While stationed at neoconservative ThinkTanks or funded by the Islamophobia Industry, they made a mockery of millions of people’s past, present, and future in US media and in the midst of corridors of power.
Wilma Newhoudt, the first deaf person elected to South Africa’s parliament and a vice president of the World Federation of the Deaf detected the fake sign language interpreter immediatly and tweeted:
"Shame on this male so called interpreter on the stage. What is he signing? He knows that the deaf cannot vocally boo him off. Shame on him!"
Wilma Newhoudt words resonates with me…I feel the same for millions of Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, Yemeni mothers and their children who weren’t and still aren’t able to physically boo the native informers off the arena and whose cries never reaches the corridors of power.
The charade by our own native informers has carried far more consequential damage—ranging between spreading outright lies, misinformation, Islamophobia and racism, self-hatred, to advocating for war and sanctions, etc. I only wish their charlatanism was as easily detectable to the wider world as the fake sign language interpreter turned out to be at Nelson Mandela’s memorial.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali with former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice