Alexander Radfar has a small retail carpet shop. But the bulk of his Oriental rug business is related services. He does appraisals, certifications and major repairs. He picks up; he drops off. He cleans – by hand. Very old school. No steam.
The steam he reserves for his other passion: Iran. The Tehran native came to the United States shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to study art and escape a sectarian sinkhole.
“I didn’t like where the government was going,” he recalls. “I couldn’t live in that religious atmosphere.”
While his father was a Muslim (Turkish extraction) and his mother a Christian (Russian side), he gravitated toward neither. If anything, he loosely identifies with the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. He also wears a mezuzah around his neck that shows an affinity for his best customers and friends, who are Jews.
Once here, he realized that not unlike Thomas Wolfe, he couldn’t go home again – at least not until the mullahs had returned to their mosques. His father told him to stay put in the U.S. He had served in the Iranian military, which was tantamount to being pro Shah.
“The government of Iran was not elected by the people,” Radfar says. “It’s a sad state of affairs. I wanted to show my anger.”
And he displayed it by getting involved in some anti-Iranian regime demonstrations in Tampa. His says his photo was taken by someone he didn’t trust.
He didn’t return for the funerals of his parents. The rest of his family is here.
Radfar, 55, loves his life in the United States as well as Tampa, where he has been for 26 years. He cherishes his American citizenship and proudly recites “Aug. 12, 1996” as the day he “became an American.” His English is excellent.
His take on today’s Iran is hard line.
“The Iranian people are good people,” he stresses. “They are friendly, warm people with a barbaric government that uses the bumper sticker of Islam. They are destroying that society in the name of Islam.”
He refers to Iran’s president, Mahmoud Amadinejad, as a “loose, wild dog that barks. And when it barks at night, it destroys the peace. And needs to be shut down. It’s no time for a ‘come here, puppy,’ approach.”
He says economic sanctions are not the answer. In fact, they would make Amadinejad “bark more,” contends Radfar. “The government has plenty of money and those with connections to the government can survive. They will kill to survive. I wouldn’t pressure him.”
Radfar, however, doesn’t like the military option either.
“If the U.S. were to send a million troops, Iran will have 10 million,” he says. “It is a power way stronger than Saddam. And then you would have (Supreme Leader Ali) Khamenei announcing a worldwide jihad against America.”
So what does that leave?
A way to “vanquish” Amadinejad and a change in metaphors. The Iranian government is a “fire ant nest,” Radfar says. “You don’t have to bomb the nest. You kill the queen.
“He travels a lot inside the country,” notes Radfar. “You hope for an ‘accident.'”
However the U.S.-Iran confrontation plays out, emphasizes Radfar, divided allegiances won’t be a factor.
“I am an American,” he underscores. “A real American. I would feel sorry for those people, but it wouldn’t turn me.”