May 25, 2010 Washington, D.C. – PAAIA is pleased to report that the American Values Network (AVN) has responded favorably to community concerns over their climate change ads targeting Iran. The ads placed on metro buses in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere depict “Iran” as making a “killing” in oil revenue while Congress stalls to pass clean energy and climate change legislation. AVN argues that reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil is not only good for the environment but also for our national security.
In a letter dated May 19th to AVN, PAAIA expressed its concerns that by targeting and naming Iran as the enemy, the ads imply that all Iranians are enemies of the U.S. – a message that in effect encourages xenophobia and hatred towards Americans of Iranian descent. Such unintended consequences are not only damaging to Iranian Americans but to those living in Iran who are fighting for democratic freedoms.
In their initial response, Mr. Eric Sapp, Executive Director of AVN, expressed AVN’s appreciation for PAAIA’s communication and an understanding of our sensitivity towards how people may perceive the ads. “I can assure you that we were very intentional in our imagery and language to avoid the implication that all Iranians are enemies of the United States,” he wrote. “The image we chose is of the leader of the repressive regime who wears western garb, as opposed to using an image that would have played off more generalized cultural differences between Americans and Iranians or Muslims.”
PAAIA went on to recommend to AVN that they further differentiate between Iran–the country which is inseparable from its people—and the government, by substituting the term “Iranian Regime” where they now have “Iran” in their ads.
As result of these discussions, AVN has said it will explore ways with PAAIA to make clear that the threat to American interests comes from the Iranian regime, not its people. “Our goal must remain finding the most effective way to draw attention to the security threats that result from America’s dependence on foreign oil, but if there is a way to do that and further clarify that the regime is the threat, we will work with you to find it,” Sapp explained to PAAIA. “There is no doubt that the threat to this country comes from the Iranian regime and not the Iranians within that country and ours who oppose it.”