Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Today's Mostly True Short Story: The Iranian

F LoBuono

It was a Saturday night and I decided that I needed to step out on the town, for at least a little while anyway. I've been a particularly good boy as of late, avoiding the allure of the rather formidable bar scene in Nyack. But, all work and no play can make Frankie an extremely dull boy. If I get too mellow, like fruit that's been kept too long, I have a tendency to ripen and then rot. Besides, a couple of buddies were playing at one of my favorite local establishments - a perfect excuse to shake off the cobwebs and look for a little action in town.

Their first set began at 9, so I left my apartment around 8 to get a good seat at the bar. I figured I'd grab a bite and some pre-lube before the music began. By the time I arrived, there was already a nice sized crowd. I found a good seat and settled in for the evening's festivities. After a good meal and a bourbon, the music started just about on schedule. As expected, the band got into the swing of things right off the bat. The crowd at the bar was full of energy and very appreciative of the great sounds being laid down.

Near the end of the first set, a friend from town came by to say "hello" and enjoy the music with me. She's a sweet person and we've been good friends for a long time. She has owned a very successful business in town and has been an integral part of the tight-knit Nyack community for years. She also happens to be an Iranian immigrant.

We greeted each other warmly with hugs and hardy "hellos". Then I teased her: Roxanne (to protect her privacy that is not her real name), I'm sorry, but you can't be here. She gave me a quizzical look as if to say WTF? But, before she could respond, I added: you've heard the President's latest Executive Order - NO Iranians. You can't stay here. In fact, you may have to leave the Country immediately! Of course, she knew right away that I was just teasing her. Still, it led to a more serious response. She said, Frank, can you believe this? What is happening to our Country? Iran is an ancient and historic country with a culture as great as any on earth - they will not take this insult lightly! Why is he sowing the seeds of hate and mistrust? I love the place of my birth, but I love America, too. It's almost as if they are asking me to choose between the two. Why can't I love both?

The evil that an Executive Order of this nature can create was obvious for me to see. Here was this beautiful women insulted and embarrassed simply because of where she came from. She is an American citizen now and in no real danger of being deported. But, still, that did not minimize the damage done to her or her family. First, there is the psychological harm caused by being made to feel that there is something within your native culture to fear. What does she tell her American born children - that their heritage is barbaric and less then that of America's? Then, there are the practical aspects of just such an order. Family and friends, many with plans already made, will be prevented from visiting. And, for what reason? Not one shred of evidence exists that an Iranian immigrant with a legitimate Greed Card or Visa has caused ANY harm to this Country. And, yet, they are treated like pariahs.

We tried to laugh off our disgust. The loud music helped. But, both of us knew that this was whole mess was the result of this Administration's Fear and Loathing of ANYONE who is not THEIR vision of who is an American and who is not. Despite the festive atmosphere, it was a sobering thought. Our Country has fundamentally changed and, unfortunately, neither of us thought for the better. Then, we said "good night" and went on our respective ways to an uncertain future.

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