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Of Basketball and Botched Elections

June 18, 2009

In far away Tehran, there is bedlam on the streets in response to a contested election. Here in LA, all it takes to whip up turmoil is for our beloved Lakers to win the championship25 people were arrested Sunday night for vandalism committed in a post-championship fervor/riot, and heavily armed cops held back raging fans during yesterday’s parade. All illicit antics aside, it’s nice that the Lakers have given LA, a city that all too often buys into its own negative stereotypes, a reason to come together.

Poor Tehranis*, having to riot in anger instead of joy. The last time we had a national election here, Angelenos couldn’t have been happier. Authorities are disputing whether or not the election in Iran really was rigged, but I can understand the frustration of the Iranian rioters at the apparent reelection of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Other than having a name that doubles as a tongue twister, Ahmadinejad appears to be an unsavory character. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I buy into the “Axis of Evil” nonsense spewed by this country’s past leadership. But as far as I’m concerned, anyone who denies the holocaust is a bad choice to run Iran, or for that matter, any country. In his campaign, Ahmadinejad cynically stole Obama’s "Yes We Can" slogan; perhaps in the interest of full disclosure he should have finished that statement as “Yes we can believe gross historical inaccuracies”.

For LA’s Iranians, living in “Tehrangeles” on Westwood, in Beverly Hills, or elsewhere, the bad news from Tehran put a damper on the otherwise festive post-championship mood. communication from relatives, via email or Twitter (supposedly a godsend to citizens in repressive regimes), is tensely anticipated. Protests have been held, and continue to happen, throughout the area. And even to non-Iranian Angelenos like myself, this event is not to be taken likely. After all, Tehran is one of LA’s sister cities, and the two places have more in common that you might think. Tehran is not on the coast, but it is near a large mountain range, and it is frequently accused of being a “sprawl capital”. And like Los Angeles, Tehran is a cosmopolitan city. Though the two are often maligned as hellholes to be avoided at all costs, in reality they abound with hidden treasures.

So congratulations to the Lakers, and best of luck to the Tehranis and all Iranians. Angelenos, having had to put up with an unqualified president for far too long, can sympathize.

*or is it Tehranians?

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