My oldest friend, Geeta, is a Muslim. I just saw her for the first time in six years. Geeta came to this country when she was 13 - the Ayatollah chased her family out. Her clothes, drinking habits and relationship patters - her basic values - are highly Americanized. Geeta is a rock n roll woman and someone I care deeply about. When we were kids, our differences did not bother us at all. But current political realities made this visit tense at the edges.
Geeta just returned from a month-long travel; she guesses that eighty percent of Iranians resent the Iranian government and it imposition of Islamic law. The economy and infrastructure are so messed up that most Iranians need to have three jobs to make ends meet. Iran's development has fallen so low that they cannot refine their own oil and have to import gasoline! If you fought against Iraq you get a pension. If you didn't, you are impoverished. She said Iran’s conservative election results reflect corruption, not popularity. Most Iranians, she reported, love Americans and Western products.
Geeta's descriptions of Iran were meant to convey that Iran and Muslims are not inherently anti-Western. As her parents are currently in Iran, she worries about our wanting to bomb her country. She fears the demonization of Muslims. As a positive and contributing citizen, she resents being automatically considered a terrorist. Geeta's only terrorism has only been against me in pinball. Her concerns illustrate that we needlessly increase our domestic and international tension when we demonize people and nations. Many Muslims are good Americans and there is a real chance that Iran will someday be a relatively benign partner.
Cultural affiliation, though, are real. And assimilation has limits. Likely due to the political climate and the multiculturalism of her native Oakland, California, Geeta still identifies Muslims as her people and her country as Iran. She even calls Palestinians "my people." This need not be harmful. Geeta's voting could restrain our impulse to go to war. Geeta identifies with Iranian sovereignty and does not want Islam to spread. My culturist views also respect Iran's sovereignty and cherish our freedoms. If we follow culturist principles and do not needlessly antagonize Muslims domestically or internationally, citizen’s affiliation with non-Western civilizations need not be so bad.
We must be aware of cultural dynamics. Geeta’s description of Iran shows that twenty percent of the population can rob eighty percent of the population of their freedoms. If we invade Iran, as Geeta and any culturist can tell you, the percentage of Muslims that hates the West will rise internationally and domestically. If we target Iran's nuclear facilities – and I think we must - we should be careful to avoid jingoistic demonizing of Muslims at home and abroad. Such talk would needlessly and insensitively hurt Geeta’s feelings and increase the odds of destruction from the Muslim community.
While I could discuss the culturist principle of isolationism with Geeta, I thought it would endanger our relationship to explain the correlated culturist policy that we should safeguard ourselves by stopping all immigration from Muslim nations until worldwide Islamic terror has long ceased. Immigrants identify with their homeland. If twenty percent of immigrating Iranians or their children wants Sharia law, increasing their numbers endangers us. Such an immigration policy would safeguard us and tell people living here that we value our nation and culture.
Looking backwards, I should have discussed all aspects of culturism with Geeta. The discussion could have been a test case to see if explaining Western interests could minimize the hurt from discriminatory culturist policy. Had I appealed to protecting the U.S. from the Sharia law Iran has been devastated by, our relationship may have survived the confrontation. Having seen what she has in Iran, Geeta likely appreciates Western freedoms more than your Western average citizen.
I regret that political events have shoved issues between us that we never had to consider as teenagers. I love Geeta and dearly value our friendship. Perhaps, our nation will follow wise culturist policy and the world will be fraught with less cultural tension when we next meet.