This poll puts Iran as a greater threat to the United States than China 20 percent , Iraq 17 percent , North Korea 11 percent , or even al Qaeda terrorists 4 percent. The number of Americans who consider Iran as the single biggest threat to the United States has quadrupled since The results of a Harris Interactive poll conducted in March indicate that an overwhelming majority 85 percent of Americans believed that Iranian nuclear research is a cause of concern. In a Pew poll the month before, nearly 65 percent of Americans believed that Iran's nuclear program was a major threat to the United States, and another 82 percent believed that a nuclear-armed Iran would be likely to provide nuclear weapons to terrorists.
While 42 percent of Americans were in favor of such a bombing, 54 percent opposed it. Asked if it would be responsible or irresponsible for the United States to have war plans for Iran already prepared, 67 percent responded that it would be a responsible action. Another 47 percent thought the United States would eventually have to take military action against Iran. In case of a military attack, 54 percent of Americans supported only air strikes, and another 42 percent supported using air strikes and ground troops.
As indicated before, Iranians are not the only immigrant group in the United States whose members have either suffered great oppression in U.
There is a long list of immigrant groups that have been and remain stereotyped and discriminated against for economic and political reasons. Nevertheless, the case of Iranians is very similar to the those of Japanese and Cubans in some respect. Nearly forty years before Iranians, more than seventy thousand American citizens of Japanese ancestry and another forty thousand legal permanent resident Japanese on the West Coast were evacuated, relocated to camps, and imprisoned without any charges, trials, or criminal convictions because of hostility between the United States and Japan.
Despite their innocence, Iranian nationals experience discrimination, racial profiling, and prejudice at all levels. For example, immediately after the hostage crisis, the INS ordered all Iranian nationals residing in the United States to report to their local immigration offices for interviews. The migration experience of Iranians in the United States also bears a strong resemblance to that of Cuban exiles. Both groups came to the United States because of revolutionary change and political turbulence in their home countries.
Emigration of a large number of Iranians to the United States was the consequence of a revolutionary change in Iran that occurred after the overthrow of the shah and his monarchy in Just like the Iranian revolution, the Cuban revolution threatened the economic and political interests of the U. Nevertheless, unlike Cuban exiles who benefited from the approximately one-billion-dollar federally funded Cuban Refugee Program for resettlement, employment, health services, food, and educational training programs, Iranians were subject to various forms of individual and collective prejudice and discrimination.
In the face of overall similarities in the situations of Iranian immigrants with Japanese regarding host discrimination on the one hand and Cubans with respect to political forces of immigration on the other, there is a fundamental difference that makes the case of Iranians more complex and sets it apart from these two and other immigrant groups. Although Japanese nationals in the United States could and often did turn to their government for assistance when they experienced discrimination before the aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, Iranian immigrants have been deprived of any support from their new government and have had nowhere to turn for legal support since massive discrimination against Iranians began in Moreover, while the financial aid provided by the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations was a major asset in helping Cuban exiles to build and sustain their community and economic infrastructure, canceling visas issued to Iranians and freezing their assets by President Carter decimated Iranian communities and punished many immigrants who had fled the same "enemy" a few years earlier.
In sum, it can be argued that no other recent refugee or exile group in the United States has experienced the same intense, sudden sense of double loss or double exile and trauma that Iranians have. On one hand, the disastrous consequences of the revolution—including social disorganization, war, cultural breakdown, economic chaos, population explosion, and deterioration of social life and standards of living—forced thousands of Iranians into exile and detached them from the pre-revolution familiar home culture.
The Iranian revolution not only reversed the foundation of the earlier system and touched every aspect of Iranian culture but also affected the collective identity of Iranians in exile and deterred many from returning to Iran. On the other hand, the anti-Iranian attitudes of many Americans since the hostage crisis in , the end of political and diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States, and sanctions against Iran in response to the Iranian government's continued support for international terrorism as claimed by the U.
These events separated most Iranians from mainstream American social, economic, and political life and hampered their integration into American society. In short, unlike most other immigrant groups, Iranians as a whole have confronted simultaneous loss of home and perceived repulsion by the host society. This double loss and double social trauma left an indelible mark upon Iranian immigrants' collective consciousness and affected their ethnic identity fundamentally.
It imposed upon them a social life full of dilemma, cultural inconsistency, religious and political ambivalence, ambiguity, and paradox personally and collectively. This situation encouraged the employment of a variety of new adaptive strategies to cope with the following dilemmas: the choice between revealing one's Iranian national identity versus avoiding the stigma attached to being Iranian, practicing Islamic faith versus giving in to the fear of being viewed as a fundamentalist Muslim or a terrorist, defending Iran's right to pursue its economic and technological goals versus remaining adversarial to its government, desiring to return home versus abhorring the social conditions of life in Iran, and last but not least, maintaining ethnic attachment and preserving the Iranian cultural heritage versus acculturating into American society and being accepted as an Iranian.
Inability to find effective coping mechanisms for these sustained dilemmas has culminated in a considerable number of institutional crises within the Iranian community in exile. In spite of nearly three decades of diasporic history and remarkable intellectual, entrepreneurial, and educational accomplishment, as will be discussed in the chapters that follow, the Iranian community in exile is plagued with a number of cultural, political, religious, familial, and other social problems causally contextualized by the aforementioned, more macroscopic issues.
For instance, religious values and rituals have lost their moral and symbolic significance and are no longer a major basis of family and social conduct for most Iranians.
Iranians in Texas: Migration, Politics, and Ethnic Identity
Moreover, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Iranian-born Muslims who either have converted to Christianity or advocate return to the pre-Islamic faith. At the same time, many Iranians have become resentful of Islamic teachings and faith and publicly express their anti-Islamic sentiments. The number of Iranians who celebrate or observe religious events has declined sharply.
Practicing Iranian Muslims, particularly women, who aspire to maintain their religious identity have become detached from the ethnic community and have created their own sub-ethnoreligious community within the larger Iranian community. Iranian identity has become a contested and problematic issue for many Iranian immigrants. The Iranian community in exile suffers from an identity crisis. It lacks a unified sense of national identity strong enough to bind Iranians together. While weak collective consciousness is characteristic of all urban industrial and post-industrial societies, Iranian American subculture is especially fractured in this respect.
Some members of the community identify themselves as Iranian, while others call themselves Persians. Many others vary their self-descriptions among several possibilities—Iranian, Persian, Persian American, Iranian American, and American Iranian—depending on the situation and the audience.
Similarly, members of Iranian religious minorities Jews, Christians, Armenians, Assyrians, and Baha'is often identify with their ethnoreligious backgrounds rather than with their Iranian nationality. Rivalry and competition caused by different political and religious ideologies and factions have divided the Iranian community. As a result, political organizations and activists have lost their reputation for working together for a free Iran. Professional associations are weak and unable to attract enough members. And participation of Iranians in intellectual activities is lower than ever before.
In addition, most are disenchanted about social relations among Iranians and complain about dishonesty, rivalry, back-stabbing, gossip, distrust, disorder, disorganization, chaos, and disarray within the community.
As such, many Iranians have lost pride in their culture and community and have become detached and dispassionate about community affairs. The lack of community support and low turnout in community events, in turn, has driven many ethnic establishments and ethnic associations out of existence, causing concern for community leaders and organizers. In the past twenty-five years a considerable amount of research and theoretical effort has focused on understanding the root causes of these problems and examining patterns of acculturation and integration of Iranians in the United States.
Most of this research, however, has been primarily based on the assumptions of the assimilation theory developed by Robert Park, a sociologist, and his students at University of Chicago in the s and s. Park's pioneering work on race-relations cycles and the marginal status of immigrants guided the scholarly research for several decades on immigrants' assimilation into their new society. According to Park and his colleagues and students at the University of Chicago, new immigrants would eventually lose their cultural distinctiveness and gradually adopt the customs and attitudes of the prevailing culture and "assimilate" into the host society.
Park asserted that assimilation is a "progressive" and "irreversible" process that would remove "the external signs" such as patterns of speech, dress, manners, and food preferences that would distinguish immigrants from native-born Americans. The first-generation immigrants probably would not be able to make a complete transition to the new way of life, but their grandchildren, the third generation, eventually would make "progress" and become full members of the host society.
Social problems of immigrants such as finding jobs, family and community disorganization, and conflict with members of the host culture, the Chicago social scientists argued, were inevitable, temporary conditions on the path toward complete assimilation and would ultimately disappear. One of the most valuable contributions to Park's framework is the influential work of Milton Gordon, author of Assimilation in American Life , in which he distinguishes an array of possible assimilation outcomes.
Unlike Robert Park, who contended that a group might assimilate culturally without necessarily going to the remaining stages, Gordon identified seven subprocesses of assimilation, each of which may occur simultaneously and in varying degrees. According to Gordon, the complete merging of one group into another requires more than accepting and practicing the culture of the host society or the majority. It also requires structural assimilation or primary relationships.
By primary relationships Gordon means intimate, enduring interaction of a large number of a minority or immigrant group with members of the host society as close friends, neighbors, and social club members and in other private sphere of social life. Relationships between members of minority and majority groups that take place in such public spheres as work, school, and public recreation, although important, result in secondary structural assimilation. The next phase of assimilation involves gradual merging of minority or immigrant groups through intermarriage or marital assimilation.
Identification assimilation or identifying with the host society does not happen until the members of both the immigrant minority group and the host society share the view that they are part of the same group subordinate to their original ethnic subcultures.
This stage of assimilation is a two-way process and involves recognition of minority group members by members of the host or majority society. When immigrant minority groups no longer have mental ties with or identify with their countries of origin or ethnic communities and are no longer perceived by members of the host society as foreigners, prejudice and discrimination against the minority groups disappear. Gordon refers to the disappearance of prejudice as attitude receptional assimilation and to the disappearance of discrimination as behavioral receptional assimilation.
Finally, in Gordon's terms, when the remnants of group differences are eliminated and the conflicts between groups over values and power subside, separate groups become one and civic assimilation occurs. The crucial stage in the assimilation process for Gordon is the formation of primary group relations, or entry "into the social cliques, clubs, and institutions of the core society at the primary group level".
Iranians in Texas – The Cairo Review of Global Affairs
Once immigrant minority group members develop intimate relations with members of the host culture in the private sphere, marital assimilation will follow. As intermarriage advances and more members of a minority group marry partners from the host society, intergroup prejudice, discrimination, and conflict will decline. During the past few decades scholars have raised serious questions about major assumptions of the assimilation theory and have criticized it for being ethnocentric, linear, and based on experiences of white European who migrated more or less voluntarily to the United States; they have developed new, broad theories of racial and ethnic relations.
Unlike the assimilation theories that emphasize the orderly adaptation of immigrants to the culture and institutions of their host society, the new theories place much greater emphasis on institutionalized discrimination, social inequality, power relations, interrelationships of racial inequalities, the role of government, cultural stereotyping and racist ideologies, and the importance of oppositional cultures in resisting racial oppression.
In recent years two new perspectives on the integration of immigrants into their newly adopted societies, called "segmented assimilation" and "transnationalism," have emerged. Like traditional assimilation theory, segmented assimilation theory emphasizes integration of new immigrants into the new society. Unlike the traditional assimilation theorists, however, the segmented assimilation theorists assert that the process of assimilation and adaptation among new immigrants may be different from those experienced by earlier European immigrants.
Moreover, in contrast to the classical assimilation theories that linked assimilation and upward mobility and expected higher social and economic status for each subsequent generation of immigrant descent, the segmented assimilation scholars assert that the United States is a stratified society with different "segments" to which immigrants and their children may assimilate. Therefore, instead of assimilating to the American mainstream, immigrants may assimilate into three distinct segments of American society, each with a different outcome. The first path is to assimilate into the American middle class, leading to upward mobility as predicted by classic assimilation theory.
The second is acculturation and assimilation into the urban working class, which leads to poverty and downward mobility. The third route is "selective acculturation" and leads to deliberate preservation of immigrant cultural values and practices along with economic integration. Various social settings have an impact on assimilation of different immigrant subgroups in different ways.
Moving into the mainstream and adapting to their new society, the segmented assimilation theorists maintain, are swifter and easier to reach for educated, affluent, and skilled members of immigrant groups than for lower-class individuals with little education and fewer occupational skills. While assimilation and to some extent segmented assimilation theorists have argued that immigrants would eventually abandon their unique cultural practices and homeland ties, scholars of a transnational perspective contend that immigrants and their descendents remain strongly influenced by their continuing ties to their home societies.
Rooted in a global perspective, the central element of this conceptual framework is that immigrants establish and maintain cultural, social, economic, and political relations in both the home and host societies. Through these relations, immigrants link their country of origin and their country of settlement. In contrast to static theoretical models that viewed immigrants and their experiences in each society as a discrete phenomenon and "bounded" by separate culture, economy, and political systems, a transnational perspective views immigration as a dynamic process bound together by a global capitalist system and affected by the interplay of historical experience, structural conditions, and the ideologies of home and host societies.
Although they acknowledge that many earlier immigrants were in some sense transmigrants who maintained economic and political ties to their home societies, transnational analysts argue that "the current transnationalism is a new type of migrant experience". One important point that transnational analysts make is that by drawing upon their multiple identities grounded in their home and host societies, transmigrants create and maintain linkages between different societies in the context of families, institutions, economic investments, business, and financial and political organizations.
Given their simultaneous participation in multiple transnational settings or social fields, transmigrants continuously convert the economic and social status gained in one society into political, social, and economic gains in another.
Moreover, they can contribute both positively and negatively to global political and economic transformations, fortify or impede global religious movements, fuel social movements, and influence the internal functions of states. Therefore, to have a better understanding of immigrants we need to adopt a transnational approach that adequately captures the complex interconnectedness of immigrants to multiple nation-states as well as to multiple legal, political, and economic institutions. Despite the increasing number of publications on Iranian immigrants in exile and the considerable contributions and insights regarding the experience of Iranians in the United States, the theoretical focus of the emerging field of Iranian American studies has been for the most part consistent with theoretical assumptions of the assimilationsts.
Considering the theoretical significance of discrimination, host hostility, prejudice, and stereotyping in migration literature and their powerful impact on the integration of immigrants into the mainstream society, with the exception of one particular article by Bozorgmehr and a few brief references in some other publications, the published work on Iranian immigrants has generally ignored exploration of the link between the impact of these forces on assimilation and the integration of Iranians in any great detail in a book-length manuscript. As I indicated earlier, this book takes as axiomatic the proposition that political forces in Iran and the United States as well as the hostile relations between the two countries constitute macroscopic conditions contextualizing the integration of Iranians in exile into American society.
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Understanding the impact of these political forces not only sheds light on the intricate integration of Iranian immigrants but also provides a more nuanced framework for explaining the loss of family values, changes in gender roles, rising divorce rate, rise of anti-Islamic religious sentiments, masking of Islamic identity, political apathy, loss of cultural pride, lack of community support, veiling of national or ethnic identity, and community disorder among Iranians. Therefore, unlike the proponents of the assimilationist perspective, I believe that these are some of the most critical forces best employed as starting points for understanding the experiences of Iranians in the United States.
The Iranian revolution and the ensuing social, political, and cultural consequences were at least as powerful as host discrimination in shaping migration experiences of Iranians in the United States. In fact, one could argue that the enormous level of hostility, prejudice, and discrimination targeted at Iranians in exile was a reaction to the foreign policies of the Iranian government, instigated by the hostage crisis in In the pages of detail, Mobasher explains why Iranians have moved from their native country, their general perceptions of the American people and country, and their overall assimilation.