Iranians in Portland, Oregon

Here in the Rose City and surrounding parts we have a thriving Iranian community.

In the first congressional district, where I live, we had an interesting race between David Wu (D) and Goli Ameri (R). I voted for David Wu (and received hate emails because I endorsed him, as though he needed my sleazy endorsement to win) but I hope Goli Ameri runs again.

The following is some interesting information about Iranians in the Portland area.

The excerpt below was written before the election by Colin Fogarty.

Ms. Ameri and her husband are from Iran. She immigrated in the 1970s to attend Stanford University and remained in California after the 1979 Iranian revolution. Now, the former marketing consultant could be the first Iranian elected to Congress.

“It’s huge! I mean, you are a refugee from a country and you come here and you live the American dream and then you ask people to vote for you. It’s very emotional. It is,” she adds.

Such unbridled patriotism won Goli Ameri strong support among Oregon Republicans and so has her ability to tap into a new source of campaign contributions, her fellow Iranian Americans. Oregon Republican Party chair Kevin Mannix is eager to tout Ms. Ameri as a spokesperson for President Bush’s policies, such as the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act.

“She does not come across as harsh,” he notes. “And she has shown real zeal in terms of her perspectives on the issues, without being extreme.”

And that’s important, according to Pacific University political analyst Jim Moore. He says previous Republican candidates have lost in this district because they’ve been seen as too conservative.

“This is a district that the Republicans have been trying to win for 30 years. On paper, this is a growing suburban district and those districts are Republican districtsÖ moderate Republican, but Republican districts,” he says.

But Goli Ameri’s close alignment with the Bush administration has alienated her from some Iranians. Jahansha Javiid, who edits the on-line magazine, says her campaign serves as a civics lesson for a group that’s not fully engaged in American politics.

“Because Iranians are still at a very infant level in terms of political awareness of how voting counts, because voting never counted or even existed when we were born,” he says. “But on the other hand, her policies are more to the right and the average Iranian American would have a difficult time voting for her.”

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the above political analysis, but I do advocate for a Free Iran.

There’s also a list of organizations that help out people from the Middle East at the The Community and Language Bank.

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