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May 2001, Week 1


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gloria monti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 6 May 2001 19:38:52 -0400
text/plain (153 lines)
        Let me address some of the issues that have emerged from the
responses to Jafar Panahi's letter -- responses which, personally, I
find problematic.

        Anthony Rocha writes:

>I am not excusing people who don't treat people with respect but the
>immigration at LAX is overwhelmed.

        Overwhelmed?  It's their job.  It is as if I were to say that
I am overwhelmed because this year I am teaching seven courses
without TAs.  It's my job.  Should I keep some out of the classroom
because I am overwhelmed?  Really.

>It is normal to have people try to get into the country illegally.

        Which was not Panahi's case, on either count.  Unless you are
claiming that the suspicion of illegality warrants such treatment.
Actually, you could make that claim in this country.  To cite a
personal example, I have had encounters with the US Consul in Milano,
Italy (my home country) where he could act on any kind of second
guessing he saw fit.  Specifically, in 1997, on behalf of my
university,  I requested an extension of my student visa to complete
my doctoral work.  Since the school had granted me a one year
extension, I thought that the INS would simply put a stamp and a
signature to Yale's request.  On the other hand, the Consul himself
addressed me (from behind a bulletproof window) and said that "Since
I spent half my life in the US on a student visa, this couldn't go on
anymore."  I told him that I had been attending US universities half
my life and I had always been living in the US legally.  I found
myself defending my position without any need for it -- the Consul
knew my entire history very well, it was all in the computer.  I felt
intimidated by his arrogance.  He then asked me how much longer I
need to finish and I, again, restated the obvious: one year (as my
paperwork indicated).  He impatiently replied that he was gonna give
me one year and that was it.
        That was it?
        I have not returned to my home country since and have been
doing all my paperwork from inside the US over the last four years.
Here's something that US citizens might not be aware of.  A visa
granted to a foreign national by the INS *in this country* does not
carry any weight once they leave the US.  They have to go to the US
consulate in their home country and reapply for a visa that has
already been granted.  As I mentioned above, the Consul has complete
discretion and authority over this matter, therefore, if he feels
that something is not to his liking, he can deny a visa that has
already been approved.  And his judgment is final.  Therefore, I am
locked inside the US because I cannot let a petty little bureaucrat
who lives in my hometown jeopardize my life and my work in this

>This happens to many American citizens as well

        Would you care to elaborate on this mistreatment of US
citizens abroad, please?

        Darryl Wiggers  writes:

>The INS are not obligated, or trained, to be caregivers and wet
nurses. If you want to organize a protest, all you can really fight
for is baby treatment for all. Good luck. Besides, Panahi is
demonstrating supreme arrogance to suggest he should be exempt from
the laws. If they had let him through I highly doubt he would have
stuck around to fight for the freedom of the little crying boy. I
think he would have have placed a little more importance on a movie
premiere, and left the kid to fend for himself.

        How did you get on this discussion list of enlightened
academics?  Moreover, did you really read his letter?  What laws is
Panahi claiming he wants to be exempt from?

        Shari L. Rosenblum writes:

>Appreciate though I may the films of Jafar Panahi, I would not stoop
to call cinematic gifts a substitute for legal papers or legal

        When did Panahi ever claim this?  He states:

"Further to my requests, the staff of all the said Festivals had
already checked if a transit visa is required and they assured me
there is no need for such visa and moreover, the airliner issued me
the ticket visa NY."

        Shari L. Rosenblum continues:

>Every nation has the right to determine whom it will admit into its
borders and under what circumstances.   Visas are one of the ways in
which each nation (or each concerned nation) controls and accounts
for its visitors.
Requiring a visa is not refusing entry -- it is a means of permitting it.

        Panahi never intended to enter the US.  He was just
transiting  -- which means that he would *not* leave JFK.  He
certainly did not expect that a "democratic" country like the US
would want to photograph and fingerprint him for spending two hours
inside the airport.  Are these the US "laws and standards" to which
Panahi proves to be "clearly" antagonistic?

Perhaps not everyone would agree that he seems to have knowingly and
deliberately played the system to manipulate a behavior from the
officers and then to provoke a certain response from among us against
that behavior.

        Blame the victim...great strategy.   Robert Stam and Louise
Spence eloquently explain this approach in reference to a definition
of racism that emphasizes the uses of racism in their article,
"Colonialism, Racism, and Representation: An Introduction."  Movies
and Methods.  Vol. II.  Ed. Bill Nichols.  Berkeley: U of California
P, 1985.  632-649.

Blacks were slandered as lazy because they were being exploited as
slaves.   Amerindians were called "beasts" & "cannibals" because
white Europeans were slaughtering them and expropriating their lands.
Mexicans were caricatured as greasers and bandidos because the United
States had seized half their territories."

        Mike Frank congratulates:

>brava!!!! . . . [Shari L. Rosenblum] wonderfully well said . . . i
don't know if immigration officials treat those
they process humanely or not . . .

        Of course you don't.  You carry a US passport.  This is my
reply to Anthony Rocha's allegations of mistreatment of US travellers
        I am quite disturbed by the xenophobic attitudes of these replies.

        Gloria Monti


gloria monti, ph.d.
program in film studies
223 humanities instructional building
university of california, irvine
irvine, CA  92697-2435
phone: 949-824-6576
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

5/6/2001: Happy 74th b-day, Mario Dad!
5/6/2001: Happy 40th b-day, George Clooney!
5/6/1915: Happy b-day, Orson Welles!
5/6/1895: Happy b-day, Valentino!

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