Yashar Ali 🐘 @yashar New York Magazine/HuffPost Contributor Email: [email protected] Direct Messages Open Text/Call/Signal/Confide/WhatsApp: 310-795-2497. Agents: UTA Jan. 08, 2020 2 min read

1. A word on "Death to America" chants in Iran. I've had friends & folks on Twitter send me videos of crowds chanting "Death to America" and say they're scared

When I shrug my shoulders about the chants, they're confused...here's why the chants don't phase me and many Iranians

2. We're used to it! It has become the equivalent of the grouchy old man who lives on the corner or a curmudgeonly relative...you just wave them off and move on with your day. "Death to America" or "Marg bar Amrika" is written on billboards, it's chanted at government rallies

3. For 40 years Iranians have been hearing "Death to America" and honestly it becomes meaningless after a while. It's not shocking. And 98% of Iranians haven't even uttered the phrase yet it's attached to all of us...of course.

4. Also as much as I hate to even explain this, I feel its important to note Iranians can tend to use very dramatic and bombastic phrases (ex. the way I tweet about food) that sound alarming to people who aren't Iranian but don't hold the weight in Persian that they do in English

5. For example, when I would ask my aunt if she wanted to go shopping next week she may reply with something like "ageh namordam." That loosely means, "if I haven't died yet."

Sounds insane, right? But it's just the kind of phrasing Iranians tend to use

6. There are a ton of phrases in Persian that sound absolutely insane in English. Older Iranian family members will often use the word "jeegar" which means liver & say things like "jeegareto bokoram" which means "I want to eat your liver" but is actually a high level of affection

7. None of this is to say that the hardliners in the Iranian government would not celebrate if a high level American official were killed. But it explains to all of you (and my friends) why it's something I and many Iranians shrug off. You hear something enough, it loses meaning

8. Last night I saw a reporter tweet "Breaking: Chants of “Death to America..." & referring to a government rally where Supreme Leader was speaking

The "breaking" part makes it seem like some newsworthy event...it's a day that ends in a y

It's an absurd/hyperbolic rallying cry


You can follow @yashar.



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