Features, Immigration, Politics, Privilege, Psychology

Lessons From a Recovering Identity Warrior

In 1988, my family fled Iran to seek political asylum in Canada. I was 5 years old. When we arrived, we did what all desperate immigrants from war-torn countries do: We found our ethnic enclave and surrounded ourselves in it as much as possible to help ease the transition.

During these years, I thought I was the default, the norm. That is to say, I thought I was white.

Almost all of my friends were Iranian. We ate the same food, pronounced each other’s names correctly, and our parents spoke the same language at home. I never had to deal with any racial tensions at all. All of the other ethnic groups at school—the Tamils, Latinos and Jamaicans—did the same. Everything fit.

My ethnic identity wasn’t something I thought much about. That was until we moved from the multicultural milieu of Scarborough (a suburb of Toronto) to Burnaby, British Columbia, when I was 11 years old. My new school featured only one other set of Iranian siblings amidst a sea of white and Chinese kids.

I was bullied frequently. Sometimes, this was because a popular girl liked me for a week. But mostly it was rooted in sheer ignorance—for instance, because I ate “weird brown sauce” called curry that “smelled funny.” (In fact, I didn’t even know what curry was. It’s not part of Iranian cuisine.) Suddenly, I knew I was different.

While watching The Simpsons with friends, I would recoil when Homer would visit Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart, bracing myself for any lazy taunts that his appearance might prompt. My white Canadian friends didn’t really distinguish between Middle Easterners and South Asians. It was confusing because I didn’t know anything about Indian culture. I just knew it wasn’t desirable to be associated with it.

(Even within the regressive sectors of my own Iranian culture, one of the worst things to be called is a Hindu or a “Paki”—almost as bad as being mistaken for an Arab. As I grew up, I found it interesting to see how white liberals always seemed to give a free pass to people of colour who cruelly, and quite openly, exhibited racism toward one another.)

Author at age 5, with family (Tehran, 1988).

There’s a scene in the 1995 movie Casino where one of Joe Pesci’s goons buys black-market jewellery from “sand-niggers” who speak Farsi. I’d thought I was white—and yet now I was black (or, at least, “black-adjacent”). The occasional rerun of a Chuck Norris film featuring herds of shrieking, angry villains with mascara eyes and bushy eyebrows wearing rags and toting AK-47s didn’t do much for my self-esteem, either (though at least these movies tended to get their geographical references right).

I was always smaller than the other kids at school, and kept my defences up by being a sharp-tongued little prick. With the Chinese bullies, this worked fine. But when it came to racist jibes from whites, I found it difficult to offer silencing comebacks. What could I say? “Hey Brody, you look just like an older version of that Home Alone kid who’s such a popular box-office draw!”

I didn’t have the tools to deal with my emotions appropriately. No other kid looked like me, and I didn’t want to trouble my overworked parents with any of my anxieties. They were too busy trying to inch out of welfare. And anyway, I doubted whether they’d be able to understand my situation, let alone help me fix it.

As I got older, I became attracted to the more ethnocentric elements of my ancestral culture. As a shortcut to show strength—or at least avoid the appearance of weakness—I learned to play the “race card,” which at first I used in a strictly defensive capacity. In a game that centred around power, I quickly learned how to play the hand I was dealt—for I now could leverage political correctness to put myself atop another kind of racial hierarchy. Without realizing it, I was exercising my own version of racism.

Age 11, at a party (Scarborough, Ontario, 1994).

Yet I was no “snowflake.” Like many boys, I was attracted to the idea of gangs, violence and crime. I even sold mushrooms and pot during high school, and ended up getting suspended at one point. My marijuana-enhanced fantasies of being strong and dangerous felt more real when we visited cousins in Los Angeles. They told me stories about local ethno-criminal gangs such as Persian Pride, and I loved the associated image of strength and unity such names were meant to convey. I also loved to hear historical stories about how the Persians once had the largest empire on the planet. I became addicted to the sugar high of pride that came from other people’s achievements.

Visiting cousins at age 12 (Los Angeles, 1995)

It’s normal to want to be proud of your heritage, especially when you’re part of a minority group that you don’t see reflected back within the larger culture you inhabit. But there’s a reason why many religious traditions treat pride as a sin: It usually doesn’t end with an innocent fondness for a flag, or a symbolic salute to a dead president or king who resembles that beloved grandfather you’d never met. Pride can easily push you into one-sided distortions of history.

One example of this is the drunk-dad-level conspiracism I parroted in regard to the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran, whose 40th anniversary passed this month. I told everyone that the revolution was entirely a Western plot to undermine Iran’s sovereignty and development, even though I knew little about geopolitics. While it doesn’t tell the whole story, my claim wasn’t completely ludicrous, given the long history of cynical and deadly U.S. intervention in the internal politics of developing nations during the Cold War—from Egypt to Brazil to Indonesia to Iran itself. But history is complicated, and I had fallen into the trap of attempting to distill world events down to a simplified morality play. My goal was psychological: to extinguish shame and promote a collective paper-tiger pride.

My campaign of resentment raged on in odd, self-contradictory ways. I began to turn down the volume on Iran’s Islamic history and amplified its Western-friendly qualities such as paisleys, pistachios and pretty eyes. I referred to myself as Persian rather than Iranian, yet I still reminded everyone within earshot that the word Iran comes from “Aryan”—a silly attempt to whiten my own culture even as I expressed resentment at white, Western imperialism.

Blaming America for the backwards nature of my home country felt right to the resentful teenager I then was. And even as I grew older, my lefty (white) friends never called me out on it—even when I wasn’t making sense—because I was railing against The Man. I was punching up. Who needs facts, when you have a nodding, guilt-ridden white ally to vent to? It was like a woke intellectual masturbation session that offered a symbiotic catharsis.

* * *

An exaggerated sense of race-based pride is birthed in the absence of a strong centre, and nourishes itself on the ego of restless young men. I began to build my own ideological world, and connected with other like-minded people who were playing the same game, feeding the same psychological appetites. Over time, it turned from a defence against the real racism of others, into a socially-accepted program of aggressive anti-white rhetoric, which continues to be encouraged, or at least willfully ignored, by the liberal mainstream and by many of my white friends.

When I got older, I moved to Montreal for university where I seized professional opportunities that served to build up my confidence and identity. After that, I taught English in Brazil for several years and picked up Portuguese and Spanish. I met people from around the world, which helped me to better situate and understand the unhyphenated aspect of my Canadian identity, and realize how much of it is near and dear to me.

Life became too interesting and complex to continue prosecuting my old ethnic grievances, an exercise that had let me vent my anger but did nothing to abate my sadness. Looking back, I realized that I had been a kid using the few tools I had available to me to conquer childhood foes who were grappling with their own insecurities. It struck me that the key to a deeper, more meaningful and sustainable truth requires that we not get trapped in playing such games at all, and that we make ourselves vulnerable by exposing our true selves to the world.

Current author photo

I’m relating this personal story because I know that many Quillette readers wonder why youth find solace in anti-white social-justice rhetoric, its associated victimhood mentality, and the culture of (now state-sponsored) weaponized sensitivity that this mentality has incubated. My own life shows how this mindset can emerge organically among minorities—whether one is a white Dutch girl in a Muslim neighborhood or a Syrian refugee boy wrapped in a donated oversized parka in the Canadian hinterland.

If you consider yourself a free-speech advocate and classic liberal who abhors identity politics, please think of my story before you launch into your next fusillade. The people to whom you are directing your lectures and barbs usually are in some stage of the cycle I have described regarding my own life. And the feeling of being attacked by the outside world is what made anti-white ethnic pride so attractive to them in the first place.

 

Maziar Ghaderi is a partner at Holding Space Films, which is producing a film about scholar and best-selling author Jordan Peterson. You can follow him on Twitter @maziart and support his documentary work at Donorbox.

Featured Image: Maziar Ghaderi at age 14 (Burnaby, B.C., Canada, 1997).

88 Comments

  1. Steve says

    Concise and informative for me, thanks! Your advice makes sense as far as interacting with youths like you once were or even recently-grown people like that. But how about those grown-up majority allies who didn’t come from that background? Those are the people I am surrounded by. These would be the mainstream white people you talked about in your essay. Or maybe I missed your whole point 🙂

    • “These would be the mainstream white people you talked about in your essay.”

      You’d probably need to get rid of affirmative action quotas, hate speech crimes, Title IX, etc. before they’ll be cool. For instance, Harvard has now said there will be no more same sex organizations allowed on campus. Sororities and fraternities aren’t happy at all. Especially sororities because of the transgendered.

    • Me too, man. I don’t know the answer exactly but I think it has to do with people like me writing words like this to remind them that we can speak for ourselves, and that we just may (clears throat) DISAGREE! 😉

    • Me too, man. I don’t know the answer exactly but I think it has to do with people like me writing words like this to remind them that we can speak for ourselves, and that we just may (clears throat) DISAGREE! 😉

    • Lightning Rose says

      I liked the article; it certainly illustrated an ethnic youthful experience sympathetically. To be fair, however, it should be noted that majority ethnicity in no way protects one from bullying, exclusion from popular cliques, or guarantees fitting in. This is the universal landscape of all youth, and navigating it successfully is the process of growing up. I do think that universal, industrialized “education” (aka schools) make that much more of a pressure cooker than it was in ages past, when early childhood education happened in the home and house of worship, and the most important context for growing up was finding one’s place in productive, meaningful work as the cornerstone of civilization. Until 1900, what you did was who you were and your family’s pride.

      • I agree. I was a white boy in a white school and suffered through many of the same things but just in different ways as this young man did in his youth. Both my sister and I were bullied a lot and I thought it was horrible at the time. But looking back, I’m glad I was bullied because it built my pain tolerance and character. These battle grounds were in school, church, clubs and my neighbor hoods.
        PS: Some of those bullies are my best friends today.

  2. “Life became too interesting and complex to continue prosecuting my old ethnic grievances, an exercise that had let me vent my anger but did nothing to abate my sadness. Looking back, I realized that I had been a kid using the few tools I had available to me to conquer childhood foes who were grappling with their own insecurities. It struck me that the key to a deeper, more meaningful and sustainable truth requires that we not get trapped in playing such games at all, and that we make ourselves vulnerable by exposing our true selves to the world.”

    I created a username just to thank you for this paragraph. So much wisdom here. If only we had the courage to teach this in schools. Thank you.

  3. “While it doesn’t tell the whole story, my claim wasn’t completely ludicrous, given the long history of cynical and deadly U.S. intervention in the internal politics of developing nations during the Cold War—from Egypt to Brazil to Indonesia to Iran itself.”
    That’s quite a fusillade!

    • Anonymous says

      I don’t swallow that load of anti-US cliches without some actual proof – which is normally pretty meager when delivered with the typical leftist slogans.

      For example, where is the actual proof that the US intervention in Iran was “deadly” ?

      We know for sure only that there were CIA agents in Iran in the early 1950s and they handed out money to some influential people to carry out demonstrations and whatnot.

      That’s hardly proof that they overthrew the Iranian government.

      • You can begin here, at Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27état#Release_of_U.S._government_records_and_official_acknowledgement

        What the author omits is that the US was merely replacing the UK in the Great Game of keeping the Russians out of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Further the author’s family must have been fleeing the ayatollahs not SAVAK. If so, they were reactionaries.

        What seem to elude the author is how completely pedestrian and common place his experience has been. In fact, since the 18th C., the Irish have the copy-write on practice of blaming the Anglo-Saxons for their problems coupled with a seemingly complete inability to see their own hands in their problems.

        Personally, I’m sick of hearing about them. I’m with Rick in Casablanca; if an immigrant is complaining about how the “devil has the people by the throat” back home and also complaining about how the inconveniences of the host country are just too much to bear, then my advice is “Go back to Bulgaria” – wherever their personal Bulgaria happens to be.

        • Anonymous says

          Of course you are right – many immigrants cannot believe their good fortune that the Western countries ( USA, Canada, Western Europe, etc.) have such a large group of self-hating white people who are practically begging new immigrants to take the whip and whip their guilt-satured rear ends.

  4. Farris says

    “If you consider yourself a free-speech advocate and classic liberal who abhors identity politics, please think of my story before you launch into your next fusillade. The people to whom you are directing your lectures and barbs usually are in some stage of the cycle I have described regarding my own life. And the feeling of being attacked by the outside world is what made anti-white ethnic pride so attractive to them in the first place.”

    I appreciate your story but silence is acquiescence. How are these young people ever to learn if they are not challenged and they remain within their echo chamber?

    It was a very enlightening article but the admonition at the end appeared to be a plea for coddling. Why not treat them as adults and how to deal with the real world where your ideas are subject to query?

    • Farris, I agree. That statement threw me off. Throughout history immigrants have felt uncomfortable in their new schools, towns, countries. What did they do? They adapted. I have some, but not much sympathy for this generation of whiners. Life is tough.

      Frankly I took this:

      “And the feeling of being attacked by the outside world is what made anti-white ethnic pride so attractive to them in the first place.”

      as saying it’s our fault when progs become progs, or when baby progs become monster progs. Fuck that. Grow up and take responsibility for your youthful errors. We all make them.

      • Farris says

        If young people will learn to remove the following phrase from their repertoire they will be much happier: “I was made to feel”

        No one can make you feel and if you allow someone to make you feel, you give that person agency and dominion over you.

  5. Steve says

    @Farris, I didn’t interpret that as a call for coddling, but more to change perspective and view those young people differently.

    • Farris says

      @Steve

      Thank you for your interpretation. Perhaps coddling was too strong. However if young people are insisting 2+2=5 or misquoting or misapplying history, one should not remain silent simply out of deference to the speaker’s youth or ethnicity. Correcting error is not an attack, just as words are not violence.

      • Eddie says

        Indeed. But I think the author’s point was to suggest paying closer attention to how and when errors are corrected. There’s a way of correcting people that makes them feel stupid (the sort of outcome you might not want with an otherwise resentful individual), and a way of gently guiding them to notice their own mistakes. The latter approach is slower and more difficult, but that seems to be what the psychological evidence would recommend.

        • Farris says

          @Eddie

          Point well taken. I agree that to correct does not mean to chastise. I would point out people do tend to react to the level of hostility present in a given situation. In the case of children one should not allow the child’s quest for drama dictate the situational response. However when the little cherubs are yelling swearing and callously throwing about terms like privileged, racist, oppressor and rapist, one tends to get a bit perturbed.

        • Jim Goeddel says

          Great observation about how to criticize. It’s so important to be charitable and to put oneself in the other’s shoes.

  6. Heike says

    “please think of my story before you launch into your next fusillade”

    This is what being treated equally feels like.

  7. Its difficult for any child to be relocated in school….If he was Chinese it might have been easier…

  8. Kids often give other kids a hard time, even when they are the same culture…funny name, funny ears, funny hair, smell, awkward etc etc etc etc…

    • E. Olson says

      I think you raise a very important point Scott. I went to an elementary school that was entirely middle-class and white, and there were still bullies and bullied based on being too nerdy, too weird, too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, funny ears, strange hair, not having name brand clothes, being the new kid, etc. Its painful to be bullied, and it is often easy to become a bully as a means of improving your status, but when you all look about the same and have similar backgrounds, teachers, parents, and the kids themselves tend to treat such dynamics as the way of the world and something you have to work through. Throw in some diversity, however, and all of a sudden everything becomes racism, sexism, classism, and the victim narrative grows and festers to no good end.

      • I have often wondered whether by being bullied because of race or some other external factor that it is easier for a child to later depersonalize the bullying and deflect the slurs onto the ‘racist’ bully for being a bad person. But when you are not bullied for such reasons then those slurs get directed inward instead. A kid who doesn’t look like the rest of the kids cannot blend in and yet he also knows why he stands out to strangers. A bullied white kid often doesn’t know and grows up with more confusion
        I’m not saying one is better or worse than the other but no non-white friends of mine are ever willing to discuss the issue – they all think it is a no-brainer that the bullying they suffered was objectively worse. I’m not so sure.

        • GrumpyBear says

          I think one major difference is that a white kid bullied by other white kids feels shame rather than outrage. And shame – when properly dealt with – drives a person to understand and change, while outrage seems to lead to disillusion, withdrawal, and resignation.

          More generally, I think my main “privilege” as a white man is that when I fail, I have no choice but to look in the mirror and say “what went wrong?” and “what can I do about this?”. As a minority, for any failure, you have an army of people telling you it’s not your fault, there’s nothing you can do about it, the system is against you, etc.

          I don’t think it’s an accident that the most meaningful progress among African Americans came in the 60’s and 70’s, when the slogan was “we shall overcome” rather than “that’s racist”.

          • E. Olson says

            Good comment GP. Pushing a challenge narrative rather than victim narrative will always be better for the group involved, but of course the victim narrative is much more profitable for race hustlers and “equal opportunity” bureaucrats because their paychecks are assured by the fact that victimhood never goes away.

  9. Saw file says

    A concise article. TY
    I have witnessed this type of transformation many times among young people. Being forced to engage with the country as a whole, leading to the same with the whole wide world, is a real eye opener for many immigrants.
    Sadly though, far too many never truly make this journey. Are never really able or willing to step outside of their ‘immigrant enclave’, so as to be able to gain the multicultural understanding of the country/world that surrounds their little piece of’home’. This is even seen with the identity ‘enclave’ groups that form in postsecondary institutes.
    I have been in various enclave communities where there are many who literally have near zero comprehension of the English language, yet have lived in Canada for 10/15/20yrs. I ask my friends, how do they ever expect to get citizenship? I am told that they have no intention of doing such. That they will just maintain Landed Immigrant Status (a CDN anomaly) forever. Although this is another topic, I was dumbfounded.
    It’s fortunate (imo) that the author was a young enough immigrant, that he was able to break free of the baggage that many older immigrants are rarely able to.

  10. Peter from Oz says

    ”“please think of my story before you launch into your next fusillade””
    OK, I’ve thought about it, and now for my next fusilade …
    All joking aside, in my schooldays I saw plenty of people get picked on for being of a different ethnicity. Even in the most exclusive private schools where much of the student body comes from the world’s cosmopolitan elites, there was plenty of racial taunting.
    I always take that into account when I attack the latest SJW rant about ”racism.”
    The fact is that the SJW anti-racists is fighting a chimera. They are convinced that those who oppose them must be racist. No what we are oppose is their definition of racism and what they want to do to our society to fight racism.

  11. As a french speaking Canadian from Montreal, thank you.

    A bit like you, I traveled allot. In English Canada, I realized that English did not hate us, like it was often said. In France I discovered that I was culturally closer to my fellow Canadian than the country of my ancestors. I have found similarities and differences in every culture I visited.

    Yet, there was one constant. Everywhere I went, when I was meeting fellow Canadian we would group together, even if it was just the time of a beer. This is true for every nationalities, profession, or any other way you can define in-group out-group. The reality is that we are deeply tribal.

    Identify exist. We ignore it at our own peril. But we must not forget that it is just one of the multiple facets of everyone’s personality.

    • Saw file says

      @Max
      I was always surprised by how people from Quebec expected hatred.I never seen that.
      To me, it was always, can you do the work.
      If you don’t want to interact, you fail ‘ business 1:01’.

      • Stephanie says

        @Saw file, when I moved from Quebec to Alberta, I didn’t have much idea what to expect. I knew people in Quebec didn’t much like Alberta. Dirty oil and rednecks was the perception I grew up with.

        No one I interacted with in Alberta seemed to care much about Quebec aside from my (former) in-laws from small-town northern Alberta. They resented Quebec for not participating in the wars their brothers and uncles died in. They’d say they hope Quebec has another referendum, but they want Canada to vote as well, so they could kick Quebec to the curb.

        My sense is the cities have so many immigrants (from within Canada and from outside) that this attitude is restricted to the remote rural areas.

    • Anonymous says

      ” In France I discovered that I was culturally closer to my fellow Canadian than the country of my ancestors”
      I spent a summer in Northern Quebec living with a Quebecois family in the 1980s. I remember the Dad always saying – a propos of nothing in particular – “Nous ne sommes pas Francais – nous sommes Canadiens”.
      Most people in the town only spoke French from what I recall.

  12. Stephanie says

    I sympathize with the author’s childhood situation. It seems to me the root cause is the ghettoization of immigrant communities. If you grow up surrounded by people just like you, how do you learn to interact with people in the broader culture? Starting that journey at 11 likely set the author back years in his socialisation. Ribbing is natural in high school and it’s the way men in particular bond. It’s when you can’t defend yourself and appear like an easy target that it can get out of hand. Growing up isolated from the rest of society puts you at a disadvantage.

    High school experiences vary greatly. I was mildly bullied by my South Asian-dominated friend group. My brother’s friend group was hugely multi-racial, and mocked each other mercilessly over ethnic affiliations, in good fun. Given such heterogeneous high school experiences, the homogeneity of the SJW movement, and the fact that a significant proportion of SJWs are white, the claim that it is racially-motivated schoolyard bullying that’s driving the SJW movement seems unsupported.

    It may be the case for some people, like the author, perhaps, but it seems to me just a more subtle form of the oppressed/oppressor narrative. It implicitly blames SJ critics for SJ, and relates them to schoolyard bullies. It also suggests that SJWs are in an arrested state of development where they are trapped compensating for high school unpopularity, which is an amusing image but I don’t think encapsulates their motivation.

      • Stephanie says

        @Saw File,

        Sorry, I try not to repeat what people say. I wrote this comment over the course of a couple of hours on my way home and didn’t see your comment until after I posted and the page refreshed.

        I always appreciate your comments.

        • Saw file says

          @Stephanie
          You spent more words than II, more concisely.
          You’re pretty bright, for a chick ( 😉 ). jk
          I am in western CDN (praire), and i have never seen this, other than the last 10yrs.

        • Saw file says

          @Stephanie
          No worries. Few regular CDN’s here.
          I too often drink and comment, but thx.
          You beat me 9/10.
          TC

  13. Craig says

    I think the author is more introspective and thoughtful than most. I don’t think the average teenager (or adult for that matter) really takes the time to examine the reasons they behave as they do. I wonder how things might have been different if the author was in school with more kids from his own group?

    My family moved around a lot when I was growing up, and my experience as a white guy was that in schools that are predominantly white (like ~90%) minorities and whites mix with almost no distinction based on ethnicity (there is a distinction based on academic performance, though). Schools that are more mixed (like ~60% white) kids start dividing into ethnic cliques and hardly mix at all. My strangest experience was my senior year in high school, when I attended a school that was about 60% Chinese. The remainder were whites from the northern part of the town, which was still a white enclave, and latinos who were bused in from East Los Angeles. Whites and latinos at that school hung out together even though the latinos were mostly poor and the white kids were mostly trending upper middle class. The Chinese kids stayed strictly by themselves. In fact, I cannot recall having a single conversation with a Chinese kid that whole school year. Weirdest thing. Of course, this was all decades ago when the US was still hung up on antiquated ideas about integration and assimilation. Likely those same school environments would be very different, now.

  14. Evan B says

    Thanks for penning this experience. Good food for thought and refection. Glad you navigated your way through a complex youth to come out a centred man ready to get your lobster on.

    BTW, please hurry up with the Shut Him Down film.

    • Nate D. says

      @ Evan B

      I just recently watched the Shut Him Down Documentary on YouTube. It was very evenhanded. It was clearly pro-Peterson, but framed his adversaries fairly. One of the better documentaries I’ve seen.

  15. If you consider yourself a free-speech advocate and classic liberal who abhors identity politics, please think of my story before you launch into your next fusillade.

    Unfortunately, even if the rest of your generation follow your path, there’s another generation of identiatarians ready to take their place, then another, then another, and each will eat away at free speech and liberalism.

    Waiting for people to grow up only works when there aren’t more kids ready to take their place.

  16. In my high school years, the Samoans, Maoris and indigenous adopted a sort of copy-pasted pastiche of Black American culture, which seemed slightly ridiculous even at the time. Some of the middle and East Europeans tried to sound off like Joe Pesci from Goodfellas. The Lebanese, Indians and Afghans struck a similar faux-gangster pose but to be fair, they at least extolled their own culture and didnt pretend to be someone else.

    The white reaction was quite interesting. To a large extent white students stayed above the fray – by far the worst conflicts were between various other ethnic grouplets. There was an ongoing feud between Samoans and indigenous that was pretty bad, real fights with real blood and real weight behind the punches. But I have to say it had an effect on the white students as well, who were a plurality but still a minority. One aspect was that no white male student listened to hip-hop. Almost to a man, we listened to metal or punk. Huge numbers of us played guitar, albeit badly. And if a girl went with a boy from one of the other grouplets, she may as well have been dead to us. No one wanted to be seen with a mudshark.

    I will say that the few Chinese and Korean students associated with the white students, they werent going to take their chances with anyone else. I recall that we used this as something of a moral alibi, if teachers were to cajole us into breaking down the boundaries, we’d say hey, we’re not the problem, just ask the Chinese kid, he hangs out with us.

  17. mehboring says

    People get bullied; all you’re doing is, to extent, excusing your own actions on it.

    I was bullied too. I didn’t become a sjw; I stood up, and put fear in the bones of those bullies.

    My country at the time was bombed by various countries. Media was used to manipulate sentiments (as always), and even some politicians afterwards admitted it was a mistake.

    I didn’t become anti-America, anti-British, anti-you get the point.

    Another issue is not that you were, or they are, anti-white. It’s that you live in majority-white country, vilified whites, and supported things that go directly against their right to self-determination as people *in their own countries*.

    It’d be the same thing if I went to Japan, Iran, or any other country where my people aren’t the majority, and pushed outright cancerous things (be it sjwism, liberalism, immigration, etc). The irony is, you’re still doing it. It’s just that you swapped sjwism for “classical liberalism.”

    What does it ultimately mean? Well, it’s not that you’re opposed to harm of whites – it’s that you’re opposed to a particular social construct (“racism”) that’s too explicit for you to feel good (and/or possibly because the ideology is illogical). But, immigration – which I’m sure you support – liberalism, and so forth, harms whites.

    On the good side, we’re finally moving forward. Take France as example, which recently adopted a new definition of anti-semtism that includes any and all opposition to Zionism, as a form of anti-semitism. To quote: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

    In the same manner, by opposing any form of ethnonationalism – be it that of blacks, whites, asians, Iranians, or anyone else – people are being racist.

    We’ll see how that goes.

  18. Asenath Waite says

    “I was bullied frequently. Sometimes, this was because a popular girl liked me for a week.”

    Wow, that must have been so awful. As a privileged white kid I never had to deal with popular girls liking me. Just having my gym clothes stolen and rocks thrown at me.

    “While watching The Simpsons with friends, I would recoil when Homer would visit Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart, bracing myself for any lazy taunts that his appearance might prompt. ”

    Seems like that would be on your friends rather than The Simpsons, since Apu’s culture was rarely if ever the butt of jokes on that show. He usually played the straight man, highlighting the cultural ignorance and general tackiness of American culture as embodied by Homer. Also, since you characterize these people as your friends and and they have presumably invited you into their home or vice versa, they probably didn’t mean this maliciously and I would imagine they found other things to jab each other about.

  19. Patrick says

    Deeply appreciative of this article. The author manages to encourage both the power of critical thought and maintenance of a considered empathy. Not the easiest of tasks and a beautiful model to follow.

  20. Charles says

    Thanks for the write up, I do think I learned something from it.

  21. Steve S says

    Well said.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of racism…I was a tall, lanky white kid living in a majority black (99%) neighborhood, from ages 10 to 18. To be fair, it was mostly the first 5-6 years that were trouble (by 16 I was much bigger than almost everyone in the neighborhood)…random ambushes after school, being surrounded and/or chased by large groups of kids intent on beating me, even some of the kids repeatedly getting into the building I lived in to throw rocks at and kick my door, always verbally letting me know I wasn’t welcome because of my skin colour.

    And at the same time, I was being taught in school, and via movies that Hollywood was releasing, how evil white people were, that white people had owned slaves in the US, etc…I had started to think that somehow my beatings were deserved, that I was a bad person because I was white.

    It was a black lady, the grandmother of one of the few friends I had managed to make in the neighborhood, that snapped me out of my self-hatred, telling me “You ain’t responsible for what anyone else did. You are responsible for -you-.”

    The part about SJW’s of any variety that frustrates me to no end is the fact that I see the cycle they’re trapped in, white SJW’s similar to the one I was in, non-white SJW’s doing as you were doing. It angers me that they can be so broadly labeling and blind, just as racists and bigots are, yet they cannot seem to realize it…

    And what makes it scary for me, not just frustrating, is the undercurrent of hate that’s really started to build since the inception of social media…the formation of echo chambers, the coercion and twisting of existing groups until all non-SJW members are disbanded…and then how this line of thinking has left places like Tumblr, and the old alt.news binaries and started to have a major impact on the western world. This hatred, that’s being whipped up so by ideologues, can be seen in every society just before a major bad occurrence…fortunately, I think that there’s enough time for anything truly horrible to be averted…

    But you can see the inklings of it when university profs are starting to say ‘some white people may have to die so black people can advance’ and other things along those lines…the inklings of what could happen, and what probably would have already happened had white people been a minority.

    I hope more people can break the cycle, as you have, because I much prefer the idea of a united humanity than one continuously eating parts of itself.

    • Rosenmops says

      “random ambushes after school, being surrounded and/or chased by large groups of kids intent on beating me, even some of the kids repeatedly getting into the building I lived in to throw rocks at and kick my door, always verbally letting me know I wasn’t welcome because of my skin colour.”

      It almost seems like child abuse for your parents to put you in that situation.

  22. Sydney says

    I’m always bewildered by these teary new-immigrant and minority-outsider stories. Canada is THE nation of immigrants, and tens of millions of children and adults have experienced that exact story from, oh, 1900 onward. My grandparents had it. My parents had it. I had it. My kids have it. Is it really worth retelling? What purpose does it serve? You’re alive and free: now get over yourself and do something constructive.

    Do Millennials EVER wake up from their generation-based narcissism and realize that immigrants have been coming to Canada since before 1900 and the whining is, well…OLD? We ate ‘weird’ food…we spoke a ‘weird’ language…we practiced a ‘weird’ faith or culture…the kids at school/the people at work looked at me funny and bullied me…PLEASE.

    You know what distinguishes Millennial whining from the generations of forbears? Forbears shut up and built their lives. There were no ‘new-immigrant services’, no welfare, no handouts, no special treatment, no billboards telling employers to hire them, no literary agents clamouring for politically correct ‘own voices’ to bore readers with.

    “…[P]lease think about my story before you launch into…? No. Please stop thinking that you have a hard-luck story (you don’t), and go do something useful with your life.

    Addendum: Sorry to pile on the author with all my anti-narcissistic-Millennial annoyance, but I’m astonished by the numbers of Millennials who think there’s something special about their poor-me tales. Will they ever grow up?

    • @Sydney

      I get where you’re coming from, I’m equally annoyed. But I do find this particular author’s attempt to be more of an explanation why it has happened in this particular way with this particular generation and how we can overcome it. But yes, the Millennial narcissism is going to have to end at some point.

  23. Disgruntled god says

    Interesting this laser focus on Apu, never noticing the savaging middlle aged, old, and Christian white men get in Homer, Burns, and Ned Flanders.

  24. red dert says

    My best friend was routinely beat up at school by our “oppressed” Maori minority. Dont see him running around telling poor me tales.

  25. harrison wintergreen says

    >As I got older, I became attracted to the more ethnocentric elements of my ancestral culture.

    to quote Eric Hoffer

    >The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.

  26. We in the west are still searching for a narrative. We had the “white men’s burden” narrative or “we are the best ” narrative of the past that looked down on everyone that wasn’t European or European descendent. We move to the “white people are the devil” narrative of today. Kids that come from other ethnic backgrounds are bombarded by all the anti western propaganda that the school apparatchiks favour, how can they integrate let alone assimilate?

  27. Doug F says

    My anger is not at the young caught up in this (I feel more exasperation and sorrow), it is on the people who have worked for decades and continue to work to take over the schools and the media to transform our society into a socialist state that meets their vision – at the people that use the freedom this society gives them to bring it down.

    I appreciated your article, and I hope that you can use your growth to help others find a better, stronger way of seeing the world.

  28. Lop Treadmill says

    ” The people to whom you are directing your lectures and barbs usually are in some stage of the cycle I have described regarding my own life. ”

    Great point. I think a lot of people go through this, and grow out of it. I think a lot of us are just older and tired of the nonsense. I have to say, I didn’t get much resistance when I was going through my “fuck the man” days, but at the same time, things weren’t so crazy.

  29. Darius Caconicus says

    “It was like a woke intellectual masturbation session that offered a symbiotic catharsis.”
    This is exactly how I feel about commitees and supposed debate groups are organized in my university (the best of my country, a very prestigious one), Im glad you (author) could give some perspective about the subject (Im from Argentina, bring half european and half aborigin was never a problem here, honestly.
    I agree that we should be careful about how we talk to ideologically possessed people too, there’s no use in being inhumane, it feeds their ego and their agenda.
    Cheers from Argentina.

    • Wouldn’t it be nice if we finally realized it? There’s so much we could do if we would just stop putting everyone in pigeon holes instead of letting people fly freely. But then again, I’m not dumb, a lot of bad ideas would also fly freely, but I’m still convinced we could find a way if we truly looked for freedom through respect of everyone’s humanity. The respect would cancel out the bad ideas.

  30. Tersitus says

    Left to wonder what the author’s life story would read like if his parents had not left Iran in ‘88. Looking forward to his Peterson film.

  31. I really appreciate this article having been an immigrant three times in my life and having had to deal with all kinds of attitudes based on where I came from, where I lived, and what my last name was. It is true that a lot of young people have to deal with these kinds of issues and their reactions are usually predictable based on their overall views of the world (they want to belong, if they can’t belong to the mainstream, they find their own clique). But what I’ve noticed in my life is that it’s the grownups who need to help the young people sort these feelings out. Provide national pride without exlusion (invite the neighbors over when you are having a celebration). I’ve always been a white person living among other white people (I’m partially Sami, but I don’t look like it, and I’ve lived in ethnically diverse locations, traveled around the world; I’m talking about the times when I’ve lived in one place for a longer time) but I was relentlessly bullied as a child for the crime of having been born in Sweden and then having movedto Finland (although we lived 100 m from where my dad was born, I had a Finnish last name, and I spoke flawless Finnish and was a Finnish citizen). The children were only echoing the sentiments of their parents, they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. Later when I moved back to Sweden, I met the scorn directed at Finns who lived there, because of my last name (although I was born in Sweden as a citizen of Sweden and spoke fluent Swedish). I lived in Denmark for a bit and met the whole “Oh, you’re a Swede….(add whatever your imagination creates). In 2003 I moved to the US and was told over and over again to “Go back home!” when I expressed concern over healthcare and other social issues. People would glare at me when I spoke Finnish with my parents when they came to visit. Again, this was an issue that originated with the grown ups. The young people were okay IF their parents had taught them to accept people as they were. What I see now is a whole generation of young people who were trained to reject anyone who disagrees with them, to seek conformity above all, and to shame people who refuse to conform. This is a particular phenomenon that originates in the evangelical church, a world I’m very familiar with. To cure it we need to bring back empathy instead of this misguided “compassion” everyone’s talking about; a compassion that extends only to those who agree – which is very evangelical. And this is something older generations have to do with the younger generations, but to get them to listen now, that’s the real challenge.

      • @maziart

        I applaud you for your bravery and ability to move on. I saw a lot of what you described in this article when I lived in Sweden as a young adult. A lot of children of immigrants were confused about what they were supposed to do about society AND their parents. They wanted to integrate while keeping their own particular “flavor” (I still have this issue after 16 years in the US; I’m Nordic and want to be Nordic while living in the US, and my parents still ask why the hell I moved to the US). Their parents considered their children traitors if they didn’t remain in the tightlyknit enclaves (where the egalitarian Swedish women were called “whores” and everyone else was a racist) and society viewed them as “newcomers” (as most small towns still do in Sweden, regardless of where you come from; it takes 30+ years to be “accepted”). It was untenable for most of them, and I still remember this one article written by a young man (30 something) who moved into the city of Stockholm where he lived in isolation from both his family and other Swedes. He said he wished there was an other solution, but he didn’t want to perpetuate what was going on in the suburbs and he knew the Swedes wouldn’t accept him, not for another 10-20 years. I know now what he was talking about. When I married and moved to the US, my in-laws (second generation immigrants from Eastern Europe) called me “a commie” because I was born in Sweden (Yeah… that was intense.) And they kept on telling me they knew everything about Europe (having lived in Germany in a US army base for a year or so in the 70s; this was early 2000) and how I must be so glad to enjoy all the freedoms US provided. Our first son had just been born and we were completely broke, barely able to feed ourselves (no maternity leave, no affordable childcare, etc), and the only way we stayed afloat were the monetary gifts from my parents from “communist” Sweden. So I get why there is so much resentment among immigrants. Their new home isn’t the paradise everyone keeps on telling them it is, but if they say a word about it, they are labled “ungrateful” and told to go back where they came from. You just can’t win. So I get what you’re saying, and I do believe you’re right about the solution. It’s when we meet other people and get comfortable being with people from all backgrounds that we learn to accept ourselves and other people. We realize that we’re all the same and want the same things. I learned this when I traveled the world in my early 20s. Nationalism and isolationism only perpetuate the ills that cause more racism and xenophobia in an endless cycle. We need more internationalism and celebration of all cultures without the SJW propaganda, because it’s not helping either.

  32. Shlamazel says

    Thanks for your article. Really good piece.

    “Life became too interesting and complex to continue prosecuting my old ethnic grievances”
    Great line!
    You are a smart and insightful guy and realized that there is a life beyond the victim mentality. This is called taking responsibility. Although it is not your fault that as a child you experienced this negativity, it is only with taking responsibility as an adult for your interests and actions that you can risk going for opportunities and thrive.
    There is no law or authority that can legislate against how someone else might make you feel. As your story demonstrates it’s a choice that you made, not something someone else did for you.

  33. Maziar,

    The following line in your story showed me you have grown to become not only a man, but also a free thinking, sovereign, individual:

    “It struck me that the key to a deeper, more meaningful and sustainable truth requires that we not get trapped in playing such games at all, and that we make ourselves vulnerable by exposing our true selves to the world.”

    I’m happy you’ve grown up. The problem is there are 10’s of millions of adults who continue to play these childhood games, and they cling to collective identity politics and intersectionality as their only means to survive and cope in the world. I also should mention the growing number of institutions, such as Universities and Corporations, who have adopted these ideologies. How the hell do you turn that monster around?

    Well, here’s one way as a starter: The film you’re working on about Dr. Jordan Peterson—Give it your all!!

  34. Sgtpepper says

    My French ancestors have been in Canada since 1716. Growing up in Quebec I was bullied because ‘unfortunately’ was born with an Ukrainian surname. Spat on by the French because I spoke English. Running home from the park not to get beat up by the French, sometimes punching my way out. Banned from trying out for the provincial tennis team because French parents took offence of my English. No summer jobs for this Ukrainian peasant. Never complained, just took it or fought back. So I did what 250,000 Anglos did in the 1980’s to improve one’s life….Left the province. Persons of colour do not have a monopoly of facing racism or bigotry. Stop whining. Like Sydney said, “but I’m astonished by the numbers of Millennials who think there’s something special about their poor-me tales. Will they ever grow up?”

    • @Sgtpepper

      Yes, the Millennials certainly think they have a monopoly when it comes to all kinds of suffering. No one else has suffered like them (eyerolls).

  35. What an odd story. One of my medical school classmates is an Iranian who fled the Shah. After he finished medical school, he wanted to bring his wife Dixie (yes Dixie) and his kids to meet his parents who still lived in Tehran. They flew to Tehran and the SAVAK stopped him in Tehran airport and took him to a small office. They told him he had two choices; he could go back to New York on the next flight, or he could do his one year of mandatory military service and stay, Then he could visit his parents with his family. He spent his year as a doctor in an oil field where he learned to play golf. The players would carry a square of Astroturf with them as they walked the sand dunes of the course. Then greens were oiled sand. That was 50 years ago but he still plays golf and we meet once in a while for reunions. Of course, he has not been back since the Ayatollah.

    I doubt he has given a thought in 50 years to racism or worries about his skin color.

  36. Leonard Gomez says

    I saw a lot of my history in your story. Not the ethnic details, but the reaching out to negative outlets for some of that, “Why me?! ” that comes to many of us so easily. Thanks for your story.

  37. Jean-Pierre Rupp says

    I suppose at some point you started thinking differently because you may have been respectfully challenged at some point by somebody, or did the process happen in some other way? How did you manage to reprogram yourself?

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