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McCarthyism in Morgantown
by Daniil Kharms Monday, Jan. 03, 2005 at 1:47 PM
An Iranian couple is fired from NIOSH as the PATRIOT act hits Morgantown.
Contemporary McCarthyism in Morgantown
The Local Face of the PATRIOT Act
Your neighbors have been unjustly fired from their jobs and blacklisted by the FBI. They are running out of money and cannot find work.
Aliakbar and Shahla Afshari are permanent residents in the US and have been since 1983, both have professional degrees, a family here, and, until, May 5th, were happily employed at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH) in Morgantown. On that day, their boss told them that they had failed a background test, and that he had been ordered to fire them. Funny thing is, they had both gotten background cheeks when they were hired in 1996 and 1997 respectively, needed no security clearance for their jobs, and were described by their coworkers and neighbors as being friendly, outgoing, and pacifists, (their coworkers have already written more than 30 letters of support to their lawyer). In fact, the only reasoning the FBI gave as to why they were even given this background check was that they came from a “threat” country, Iran. Neither the FBI or NIOSH have given any helpful information, so last month the Afshari’s decided to sue NIOSH, with the help of Morgantown’s Allan Karlin. They have been effectively blacklisted by this unjust harassment, as no one in their field is willing to hire anybody with this amount of unwanted attention. They recently ran out of their unemployment benefits and are now slowly spending their savings.
This type of harassment is no more new than it is isolated. This is exactly the tactic used by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 50’s to target dissidents during his witchhunts. When the level of abuses of human and civil rights committed by McCarthyism were finally addressed, laws were passed in the hope to prevent these things from happening again. Unfortunately, amidst the “Terror Scare” many of these limits were repealed. This incident is by no means isolated to NIOSH, or Morgantown. Immediately after September 11th, thousands of Arab-Americans, Muslims, Persians, and Southern Asians were disappeared indefinitely, and several people say that Iranians were among the most heavily targeted groups.
We must do our best to combat this racist, opportunistic profiling. The Afshari’s are a family like any other, and it is only hatred and ignorance which can make them appear somehow dangerous. The real danger to tose of us who happen to be living in America is not Foreign born people or non-christians, it is American government and it is apathy and ignorance. It is apathy and ignorance which allow us to turn our heads and ignore it when the police snatch up someone whom we view as an “other,” that is the real danger, for, to borrow a story from World War II, “Who will be left to speak out when they come for us?” It is apathy and ignorance which allow us to keep believing that we have only the ballot box left for recourse, even when it has failed us time and again, and it is apathy and ignorance which will leave our planet ravaged for our grandchildren to clean up, if we have any grandchildren by then...
Here is the number of their attorney, Allan Karlin: 296 8266
Member Firm Profile: Allan N. Karlin & Associates 174 Chancery Row Morgantown, West Virginia 26505 (Monongalia Co.) � Telephone: 304-296-8266
3311 East Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203