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Thanks To Trump, ‘Lawyer’ Is Now A Dream Job

One of the most maligned professions in America became a heroic career path for this Iranian-American woman

Last Friday afternoon, my Iranian grandmother was anesthetized in a white operating room, in a hospital in America, where a doctor removed the uterus that had housed my mother 62 years ago. At about the same time, our new president announced the United States would no longer be a home for millions of people like my grandmother, because of an attribute they were born with: country of origin as genetic defect.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]I kept an eye on the lawyer, because at that moment, he embodied equality, freedom, and fairness. [/quote]


The next day, my grandmother drank tea, reclining on her American hospital bed, as disturbing news reports and social media posts lit up my phone. Refugees and travelers from banned countries were being stopped at airports, turned away. America is the only country my family has called home since 1979 when we fled Iran. And now America had included my beautiful motherland, home of poets and jagged mountains, among the nations banned. All Saturday, I cried. I grieved. Iran then said it would take “reciprocal measures,” though it wouldn’t exclude those with valid Iranian visas, and I no longer had a grip on the meaning of “home.” My face felt hot, my body weak.

But in my despair, I remembered something important: I know America as intimately as I know my mother and grandmother, their bodies my other homes. I studied in its schools, I read its books, and years ago, I’d practiced law in its courts. On Sunday, I left my three-year-old twin daughters at home with my husband, their father. I rode with a friend to Los Angeles International Airport, where thousands of people held up signs that said, in various ways, “No,” that America is its people. America is me, and it is us.​

Among all the activists, I also saw a man in a suit with a sign that read “Lawyer.” I cried. I hadn’t gone to the airport with an agenda; I just knew that I couldn’t stand what our new president had done. I’d left the law to write fiction after my father’s death nearly a decade ago and hadn’t practiced since. But while the crowd chanted, “No bans. No walls. Sanctuary for all,” I kept an eye on the lawyer, because at that moment, he was the embodiment of what I believed in: equality, freedom, and fairness.

I thought of my grandmother in the hospital, how she became an American years ago under a different president, one I mostly disagreed with but with whom, in retrospect, I shared some core beliefs. My grandmother, like myself, was a citizen now, and I refused to let our family, or other families like ours, be tossed aside without a fight. I wasn’t ready to claim the law just yet, but at the end of that day, back at our apartment, I wrote to organizers online with offers of help, telling them: I speak Farsi. I’m a lawyer.

I worried. The truth is I speak Farsi only well enough to talk to my grandmother about her day. The truth is, my father died never recovering from being in exile. When he died, I vowed that I wouldn’t do the same, that I would recover by exploring who I really was: a writer, an artist. And even before I dropped the law, I would cringe (along with many other Americans, apparently) at being called a lawyer.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]I drove to LAX worried that my Farsi and legal skills were imperfect, listening to Iranians on NPR talking about heartache and havoc.[/quote]

But on Monday morning, I made a choice. After getting my daughters to preschool, I drove to LAX again without knowing if I would be needed, afraid that my Farsi and legal skills were imperfect. I listened to Iranians on NPR talking about heartache and havoc.

The morning was hot and sunny. I was wearing my new activist uniform: heavy-duty boots, waterproof jacket. I had an apple and full bottle of water in my bag. When I walked into the terminal, I immediately found the tables that had been set up for those offering legal help. Behind them, attorneys in discussion or typing on laptops. Almost all of them were women, in their own versions of activist uniforms. On the tables themselves, there were sign-up sheets for volunteers, forms to fill out while speaking to people detained or their family members. Afraid that my Farsi would be inadequate, I told one of the lawyers that I only spoke Farsi with my grandmother. She smiled and said that was great.

I borrowed a marker and wrote a message on a manila folder. It said in English, “Volunteer lawyer. Do you need help? I speak Farsi.” Feeling bold, I headed out to another terminal holding up this sign. Along the way, I was joined by other women lawyers, and we rushed around from one terminal to another. We put our bodies where the glass doors opened, available in case someone was questioned or detained. “I feel a little exposed holding this sign,” I said. The others nodded.

We headed back to the tables, which I was starting to think of as lawyer headquarters. There, an Iranian woman was crying; in Farsi, she said her sister had been detained. She and her sister had been in Tehran because their mother had a heart attack. But at first, I couldn’t quite figure out which tense she was using. Did her mother already have a heart attack—or was the woman worried the new president’s policy would give her mother a heart attack, in the way a heart is said to break from longing?

Both made sense to me.

Later, I stood with my sign near the area where those held by customs could exit by walking up a wide ramp. There, I spoke to a few young women from Iran who’d safely made it out, and recommended that travelers come through Abu Dhabi. Officials there were fair.

Suddenly, a lawyer approached, joined by an Iranian woman who’d just arrived. The lawyer asked if I could speak Farsi to her. Her cousin had a green card in good standing, but was detained anyway. We spoke in Farsi; the lawyer nodded and walked away. After she left, the woman offered to switch to English—she was American, too, after all.

“Of course,” I said; then, emboldened, “but I can speak either.” She responded in perfect English. So in English, I asked her for her name and her cousin’s name. She said, “Oh, do you want me to write it?” With a name like Sanam Mahloudji, I’ve said the same thing nearly my entire life. Though America is my home, it has trouble writing and reading me—and people like me.

“No problem,” I said. “I can write it, just tell me.”

“Oh right,” she nodded. “You know.” She told me their beautiful Iranian names and I spelled them out with ease. She smiled, and I smiled too, because my America is a land of immigrants. In that moment, she was an Iranian-American client, and I was an Iranian-American lawyer. Neither of us needed to explain ourselves.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]I have faith in the U.S. Constitution; I know that it’s greater than any one person, any one president.[/quote]

Don’t we all deserve that? I won’t let this new president take that possibility away, even if sometimes it feels like an impossible dream.

I plan on going back to LAX this week, though now that a federal judge in Seattle has temporarily blocked portions of the travel ban, I’m not sure what to expect. Just a few moments ago, the president’s officials were already appealing the decision.

But I know America. I studied in its schools. I practiced in its courts. I know its laws and its values. I feel a kinship with the 300 attorneys at the ACLU who must face the 19,000 attorneys our new president will have at his disposal. I have faith in the U.S. Constitution; I know that it’s greater than any one person, any one president. America is still my home, the home of my grandmother and my daughters—a home that will keep restoring itself and growing more just. But only if we stand up for ourselves, and for each other.

Features
via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

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On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

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For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

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In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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