Dirty Harry is Iranian


Jul 30, 2014 | 10:00 am


Gina B. Nahai

Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan in “Dirty Harry.” Photo ©1971 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

This article originally appeared in the Jewish Journal. View Original.

Yeah, I didn’t know it either. I only found out 10 years ago when a friend who lived in Iran came to L.A. for a visit. Just like I didn’t know, till I was in my mid-20s, that I’m not Iranian.

I found that out from a random caller to a Persian-language television program produced in Northridge. Like most others of its kind, the program was anti-regime. The host spent a good deal of time enumerating the crimes of the Islamic Republic, among them its stance toward Israel and the arrest and execution of anyone suspected of harboring Zionist sympathies.

A call came in from a viewer: “Why do you dwell on the regime’s treatment of Jews?” a man asked. “It’s not relevant. Those people are not Iranian.”
A strange thing to say about people who have lived on the land without interruption since 440 B.C., but the sentiment, though refuted by the host, was echoed by other callers. Strange, too, because all my life, I had thought and felt and taken pride in being Iranian.
Are we who we think we are, or what we’re perceived to be?

During the hostage crisis in 1979, when every ailment of Iranian society was blamed on the West and all the vestiges of American pop culture were banned and erased, Dirty Harry, of Clint Eastwood fame, outed himself as a God-fearing, mullah-loving, Iranian Muslim. He rode around at night on a motorbike at the head of a posse of other gun-slinging pasdars (Revolutionary Guards), all Made-in-America semi-automatic weapons and pistols and Marlboro Reds, and searched for Zionists and Americans badly in need of a dose of vigilante justice.

He dressed like Harry and combed his hair the same way, spoke with the same throaty voice, introduced himself to his victims as “Sarvaan (lieutenant) Dirty Harry,” and never missed the chance to encourage them to “make my day.”
Not that any of them dared point it out, but the irony in the man’s adopted identity was potent enough to use as a biological weapon, more so when you considered that the character’s creator, director and producer were all Jews. Still, to me his story was reminiscent of the 3,000-year-old Jew who believes he’s Iranian while millions around him know better.

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Written by Gina B. Nahai
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