The War on Iranian New Year

In the spring, as winter turns its corner, it will be a new year. Iranian New Year, Nowruz -- meaning "New Day" -- takes place tonight, on the vernal equinox, and it is the most important holiday of the year for those who celebrate it. But this year, some are trying to overshadow Nowruz with the ugly sounds of war.

And it is different this time than all those other years of threats and sashaying political attacks. This year, the talk of war walks tall amongst the rhetoric of Washington. It has become acceptable to warn the Iranian people of their demise. The curses of war are bellowing from the mouths of politicians in the United States and elsewhere. Their appearance in election campaigns has become a de facto proof of statesmanship in a time of many enemies. Their bellicose threads have woven a fabric of inhumanity toward a people who, like all people, are innocent of their government's whims.

The people of Iran are usually cheerful this time of year. They get several weeks of vacation for this secular holiday in an Islamic Republic. Nowruz has been their spring awakening for thousands of years -- a holiday based on nature and not on man's imagination.

If you understood Nowruz, you would understand the people of Iran. And you would understand what the economic sanctions, covert operations, and the words -- yes, the words -- of war are doing to a people on the brink of renewal.

No country is riding the crest of prosperity these days -- even the richest country in the world is battling the waves of unemployment, homelessness and poverty. Imagine what the other countries' people are suffering through. Then imagine the people of Iran who have to deal with the added damages of economic sanctions and the increased government control that comes with them.

In a time of warring words, tensions are written in a language of oppression.

Last year, President Obama sent a Nowruz message to the Iranian people. He smiled and admired them and their ancient holiday, then warned their government to follow its people's wishes. He knows Iranians are not his country's enemy. But Obama -- even as he knows that war destroys people, not governments -- has a job to do.

And so do the American people. In the days of increasing awareness and occupations of the American street, the people of America have tasked themselves with the job of learning more about their world and taking action to speak up for the betterment of human relations. Americans live and work with Iranians who have settled in the land of the free. They know them as Obama does.

The untrue words hurt them, too.

Besides, the war has already started -- it began long ago and behind the scenes. We hear snippets of its different battlefields across the globe, but far more damaging are the words -- the demonization of a whole people, the lax disregard for human life, the mainstreaming of incivility. The talk is the war -- it is the violence that we see every day in the media and the election campaign against the Iranian people.

As Nowruz makes its way through March -- the celebrations continue for 13 days after the New Year -- the words of war are due to become louder and more ubiquitous. According to top US government officials, April's showers will bring superpowers to Iranian shores. The war has been penciled in, they tell us.

But Nowruz is in ink. And as is its habit, it is a reminder that the darkness is fleeting: the day will soon be longer than the night.