Let's Get Westoxicated!
My middle-school archnemesis in Tehran was Mr. Pourmand, a Koran teacher and fanatical devotee of Iran’s clerical regime. We often clashed over my preference for Jules Verne and Metallica over labyrinthine Koranic passages. When, near the end of eighth grade—the year was 1998—I told him about my family’s impending emigration to the United States, the young teacher could not hide his bitter contempt. “Good,” he said. “That’s where Westoxicated fools like you belong!” Months later, I learned that Mr. Pourmand had sought out my mother’s advice about the green card application process—so that he too could one day take flight to the treacherous heart of Global Arrogance.
The contradictions embodied by my Koran teacher’s hypocrisy also shape the editorial framing of Tablet and Pen, Reza Aslan’s new anthology of 20th-century Middle Eastern literature. Aslan, an Iranian-American intellectual, is a rising pundit and the author of popular books on contemporary Islam and foreign policy. This anthology marks a new foray for Aslan as an academic thought leader, as its tone and selections are clearly targeted at introductory university courses.
About the Author
Sohrab Ahmari is co-editor of Re-Orient, Palgrave MacMillan’s forthcoming anthology of essays by young Arab and Iranian reformers.