Persian Love in Dictatorship

 In love in Paris, June, 2015

In love in Paris, June, 2015

I didn’t mean to fall in love with an Iranian, and he likely wasn’t looking for a towheaded American single mom either.  I dated for a decade after divorce.  I was picky, but you can’t deny true love when it is delivered to your doorstep, or when he moves in down the street.  Our love has been meant to be from the moment we met, that’s been clear.  We are a family meant to be blended, which we’ve done slowly to ensure the kids move at their own pace.  He loves my children tenderly and parents them with great patience and leadership, I am graced by his children who have expanded my heart exponentially.   

His mind is brilliant.  The top student in all of Iran his graduating year, he had his pick of career paths, and chased physics.  He believes there is no problem we can’t solve, only ones we have yet to work on sufficiently to find the right answers.  His work is in solving the physical problems of the world, while mine lie in those of humanity— our philosophies complimentary.  He attended graduate school and had his first post doc in Canada, the country which now claims him as a citizen.  His second post doc brought him to the States.  His permanent job moved him right down the street from me in Bloomington, Indiana.  He is a permanent resident of the US, he has a green card, and is a few months from applying for citizenship.  He is tenured faculty at Indiana University.  He is far from a transient, a terrorist, or a challenge of any kind to American society.  This man who grew up under the rule of the ayatollah, seeing tremendous oppression of women, is one of the greatest feminists I’ve known. Most people will tell you how lucky we are to have him, and I would be the first.  In April, we will marry, but we are already very much family.  

 Our family.  Photo credit: Ann Schertz

Our family.  Photo credit: Ann Schertz

With a stroke of a pen, Donald Trump cast my family out of this country.  He told us we are unwelcome, unwanted.  We do not belong.  He needs no concrete to build this wall— he has done it with his pen.  Babak was en route to conduct US government grant funded research abroad with a colleague when he was given no other choice but to turn around at the American border and return home.  To leave would mean he could not return, despite being a legal resident.  Despite his home, his fiancé, his children, and his work here.  Despite the fact he has had no dealings with Iran in any way since he left nearly two decades ago, and feels lucky to have gotten out.  Our family, and many others, are now hostages in our own “free” country.  If we choose to leave, we will not be readmitted.  And we are the lucky ones.  

There are families who were on trips when the order was signed, and are still being held at the border.  When they ask who needs to approve their entrance they are simply being told by border protection “We don’t know, there is no process for that.  Guess you have to talk to Mr. Trump.”  Their homes are here, but they can not return.  

This doesn’t begin to address the others— for whom America was a last refuge.  The ones en route with refugee status already granted, who have sailed the seas and risked their lives to escape the very religious persecution we are now privy to in our country.  

 A local church littered with graffiti just after the election.  Left unchecked, this hatred is continuing to grow.  

A local church littered with graffiti just after the election.  Left unchecked, this hatred is continuing to grow.  

Stripping rights without due process is not leadership, it is dictatorship.  If you are complacent because these things haven’t affected you yet, rest assured, they will.  America is not immune from the deterioration of its democracy, in fact we are well on our way.  We each have our own ways of effecting change— you can call legislators, create a friendship with someone who doesn’t look like you, commit a random act of kindness for a victim of hate, write a thank you note to a sane judge or an attorney who is helping keep the judicial system afloat… there are a hundred ways to change this world, I encourage you to choose your paths and do not tire from working for what is just.  Our family thanks you.