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NIAC Calls for Removal of Insulting Ads that Contribute to Atmosphere of Fear

Throughout the East Coast, buses have been plastered with the face of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on billboards that scream menacingly "Iran is making a KILLING." But the ads are not from a hawkish group calling for war against Iran, rather they are the work of a progressive organization calling for passage of environmental legislation.


Today NIAC sent the following letter to the president of the American Values Network:

May 24, 2010

Mr. Burns Strider, President

American Values Network


Dear Mr. Strider,

We are writing to raise our deep concerns regarding a provocative ad campaign your organization has undertaken that is insulting to the Iranian people and the Iranian-American community, and contributes to a toxic political environment that could help pave the path to war with Iran.  We strongly urge you to reconsider and remove these advertisements.  

All throughout the East Coast, buses have been plastered with the face of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a billboard that screams menacingly “Iran is making a KILLING.”  At first glance, this seems like an advertisement paid for by a hawkish organization calling for war against Iran.  However, on closer inspection, the ads actually call for passage of climate legislation by Congress.

We are alarmed by these ads because, while they attempt to play upon antipathy towards Ahmadinejad, the real victims are the Iranian people and the Iranian-American community. These ads are insulting to the Iranian people who suffer from the brutal policies of the Ahmadinejad government and are hurtful to the Iranian-American community who, on this side of the Atlantic, are the primary victims of Ahmadinejad’s policies. 

To equate the entirety of Iran to Ahmadinejad, whose legitimacy is questioned by the Iranian people, is a dangerously simplistic view.  It discredits and ignores the organic civil rights movement in Iran, and is hurtful to those of us of Iranian descent who proudly call America our home and have contributed greatly to American life.

These advertisements also undermine your own goals.  Exploiting serious national security tensions for the purpose of advancing an environmental agenda is counterproductive because in doing so, you inadvertently help pave the way for the worst environmental disaster of all—war. 

We are sure you agree that war is among the worst environmental catastrophes known to man.  The environmental impact of previous wars is well documented—it includes the often permanent destruction of land and water resources, immense carbon emissions by military equipment, and significant consumption of fossil fuels and non-renewable energy resources. 

We are perplexed that a progressive, faith-based organization would promote ads that are fundamentally at odds with a key progressive and moral objective– that is, avoidance of further wars in the Middle East.

We deplore the abusive policies of the Iranian government and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and are deeply concerned by the abuses endured by the Iranian people at the hands of Iran’s rulers.  But we are also deeply concerned by the horrors that would be imposed upon not just Iranians, but on the American people and the world community, should the United States go to war with Iran.  

However valid it may be to connect the United State’s energy policy to its national security, it cannot be done in a manner that advances the case for war.

Indeed, it was not long ago that a fabricated atmosphere of fear convinced the American public that a disastrous war of choice with Iraq was unavoidable.  Today, the consequences of that war for humanity and for the environment are clear to all. We should be working together to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

We take issue not with your ultimate goal of combating climate change, but rather with the destructive manner in which your message is being delivered and the unintended consequences it may help produce.  Therefore, we strongly urge you to acknowledge the consequences of your ad campaign and to take immediate action to remove the ads in question.



Jamal Abdi

Policy Director, National Iranian American Council


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