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Women spinners of the Qashqai peoples of southwestern Iran.

The Qashqai, also spelled Ghashgai, are nomadic pastoralists of Azeri descent who mostly inhabit the Fars, Khuzestan and southern Isfahan provinces. They speak a Turkic language and are known for their woolen carpets and wovens, commonly called “Shiraz" for the major Iranian city where they congregated to sell their wares in large open-air or semi-enclosed marketplaces.

Ya Allah, forget the Kardashians, look how beautiful these women are!

It disturbs me to think that there is even talk of invading this special place in the world, a place that most Americans can’t even fathom, let alone explain. Instead, they imagine it as drab desert shithole strewn with a couple of shoddy tents every hundred miles or so, not the lush (and relatively modern) country it is. Meanwhile Israeli intelligence picks off what’s left of Iran’s intelligentsia under everyone’s noses. As I recall, this is how all systematic repressions begin—with the people who matter most to a nation’s progress.

I won’t go into a whole political diatribe. But it suffices to say that I’ve lived in America most of my life now, and even come to terms with the X-Boxes and the Big Gulps and the dazed, Samoan pilgrims of Costco and everything else that goes into the systemic homogenization/de-inellectualization of daily life in the States, but the one thing I could never reconcile is the complete lack of respect for cultures older and wiser than ours—for better or worse, cultures that have learned to coexist independently in the world. It is a disrespect bordering on contempt, that reduces everything to a palatable binary, with no room for nuance or complexity (we: reasonable Americans; they: raving Muslims). Make no mistakes: I’m not one to celebrate the modern cultural derivations of Islamic civilization, but certainly they deserve due diligence.  

In effect, a nation subject to America’s brand of hegemony dies twice. First it’s bombed back to the Middle Ages by our military, then colonized as a form of compensation by our academia.

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