Duping people was Donald’s trump card: Iranian-American author (Reissuing correcting attribution)

Kolkata, Jan 26 (IANS) For all the flak American President Donald Trump drew at a literary meet here on Wednesday, it was US-based Iranian author Firoozeh Dumas’ bruising brilliance that stood out when she underlined “duping people” as his “trump card”.

Among the executive actions President Trump is set to dole out in the next few days is one where Dumas’ country of birth, Iran, stares down the barrel with six other Muslim countries deemed a “threat to national security” – namely Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia.

Dumas, who moved to US with her family when she was seven, chose late Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s rhetoric to describe how the maverick former TV reality show figure “duped” people and rode on their fears to power.

“There was a rumour going around in the Middle East during the Iranian revolution. If you look at the moon you could see Khomeini’s face. I was like what?” Dumas told a packed audience during a Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet session dwelling on how Trump defied pollsters to win the presidential polls.

“I feel people were duped. Trump has done a masterful job of truly duping people. About fear which they had a little bit, now he has already stoked the fire. The lack of critical thinking was the (reason behind it),” said Dumas, author of two bestselling memoirs about growing up as an Iranian immigrant in America, “Funny in Farsi” (Random House, 2003) and “Laughing Without an Accent” (Random House 2008).

In 1979, Khomeini and his agents appeared more than 400 times on foreign media, using it as a platform to gather support and get his message out.

Khomeini had lived in Iraq, supported by the Ba’athist regime, as a tool against its archrival Iran. But suddenly for a man who had been out of Iran in exile for almost 30 years, the leader who overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran that year, took over the “leadership” of the revolution with the active participation and approval of leftist groups.

The two paragraphs above were earlier wrongly attributed to Dumas.

“I have spent a lot of time in whole of America and literally the places I have visited I am the only Middle Easterner that these people have spoken with.

“And one of the things I have discovered in going to these towns, often in the West belts, is that so many Americans have no concept of the Middle East.

“They have no concept of the history, no concept of our foreign policy in the Middle East. When I first came to America people were constantly asking me about camels, and it was a real let down for them when they found out we had a Chevrolet.”

Dumas said the lack of critical scrutiny among the commoners egged Trump on.

“So what happened with Trump is that he came in and played on people’s fears about the Middle East and that was a big part of his campaign.

“There were a group of people who could not think critically about whatsoever he was saying. They bought it. They are so many people who blamed things on the Middle East that had nothing to do with the Middle East.”