Dear Senator McCain, The Iranian-American community is disappointed and disturbed by your comment yesterday about US exports of cigarettes to Iran as “a way of killing” Iranians.
This statement was insensitive, callous, and counterproductive. We are proud Americans, and grateful for the blessings of liberty and democracy not available in our country of origin. Our community is also proud of its Iranian heritage, and deeply protective of our family, culture, and traditions; we hope that you hold us in higher regard than your comments seem to indicate.
Your remark yesterday recalls a previous campaign event in 2007 in which you sang “Bomb, Bomb Iran.” For the second time during this Presidential election, you made the unfortunate choice to disparage people of Iranian descent, which is a fact that one million Iranian Americans find unacceptable.
Members of our community have historically been strong supporters of the Republican Party. Your statements have had the unintended effect of alienating the Iranian-American community from your party and putting in jeopardy Iranian-American support for your campaign.
While our community overwhelmingly opposes the government in Iran, we strongly oppose a military confrontation between the two countries and believe the current state of US-Iran relations requires an intelligent and constructive dialogue, which your comment directly undermined.
We know that as a decorated military hero, you would not unnecessarily bring our service men and women in harm’s way. We hope you will reconsider making light of the current tensions with Iran and instead take the lead to secure a peaceful resolution to the US-Iran standoff.
Finally, we ask you to apologize for your unfortunate remarks, and to acknowledge the valuable contribution the Iranian-American community makes to American society. As you know, Iranians tend to be the most pro-American population in the Middle East. Our policy cannot be to alienate the people of Iran, with whom America has no and should have no enmity.
We hope, through this gesture, you can clearly demonstrate your respect for Americans of Iranian descent and repair the damage done in the eyes of Iranian Americans by your recent comment.
Trita Parsi, President
Irancove @ July 9, 2008