Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day.

Baseball, they say, is a game for fathers and sons. I don’t doubt that they are right; I’ve seen Field of Dreams, after all. But baseball is not the only thing that binds fathers and sons together. My father wouldn’t know a double from a double play, but I would be neither the man nor the writer I am today without him. So today, on Father’s Day, I hope you’ll indulge me as I tell you a little about my dad.

Nabil Jazayerli was born in Damascus, Syria in 1944. He grew up in a middle-class family, although “middle-class” meant something entirely different in the Middle East in the 1950s than it does in 21st-century America. My grandfather, Muhammad Yunus Jazayerli, owned a factory that produced liquid nitrogen, which was then sold to a variety of companies that needed the stuff for industrial purposes. In America this would have made my grandfather a wealthy man; in Syria, it meant that he had the ability to provide for his family, and eventually buy his house instead of renting it, but it was a path to self-sufficiency, not a yellow brick road.

My father did well in school, as much by necessity as by choice. In Syria, as in most countries outside the western world – then and now – your career path is decided by the time you graduate high school. Every high school senior in the country takes a standardized exam (the Baccalaureate) and your composite score on the exam determines where you stand in line when it comes to picking your college. Or to put it more bluntly, it determined whether you were accepted to medical school. There were about 90 slots in the University of Damascus’ medical school, and that meant that the top 90 high school seniors in the country got the opportunity to become doctors. The 91st-best senior got the shaft. It’s not like anyone was in a position to turn down the opportunity to become a physician. Medicine wasn’t simply a noble and well-compensated profession – it was the noble and well-compensated profession.

While my father was in high school, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. Told by the doctor that his disease was caused by the cigarettes he had been smoking in ignorant bliss for decades, he threw away his stash and never lit up again. He would have a lung removed, and managed to survive seven more years in progressively deteriorating health before he passed away. The official cause of death was his cancer, along with heart failure, but a contributing cause of his death was Ba’athitis.

It’s almost impossible to believe today, but in the 1950s, Syria was a functioning democracy. The president was elected – fairly – and served for a period of time before his term expired. Judges had immense power to apply and enforce the law. People enjoyed civil rights like freedom of speech and political expression.

One of the groups that took advantage of the latter was the Ba’ath party, a group of disaffected socialists who railed against the perceived injustices of government. This group gradually gained control of key positions within the army, and in 1963 they struck. A coup d’├ętat was successful, and the Ba’athists soon set out to bring to the masses all the injustices that they had claimed to be fighting against.

One of the Ba’athists’ first targets was the bourgeois middle class, who had the chutzpah to conduct business with the intention of making a profit. In January, 1965 the government began “nationalizing” private businesses, “nationalizing” being a euphemism for “nice business you’ve built – we’ll take it!”

They came for my grandfather’s factory in the middle of the night. They were let in by the night security guard, a member of the Ba’ath party. My father was preparing to head to class the next morning when some of the factory employees rushed to the family’s house to tell them what had happened. It was common knowledge by that point that once the government had taken over your business, your best move was to just stay away. More than one businessman had made the mistake of going to his office to try and reason with his occupiers, and had suffered a savage beating for his impertinence.

My father had the unhappy duty to inform my grandfather of the news. He found Muhammad Yunus sitting on his bed, putting on his shoes.

“I don’t think you should go to work today,” was all my father could say.

My grandfather looked up at him, and immediately understood. “They’ve taken the factory, haven’t they?” My father could only muster a nod.

“Very well,” my grandfather said, and started removing his shoes. He then lay down in his bed and went back to sleep.

My grandfather did not last long after that. Neither would the factory; the Ba’ath party put the security guard in charge of the factory, which is a bit like giving the general manager’s job to a peanut vendor. (Don’t get any ideas, Mr. Glass.) Within six months the factory ceased to function, as every machine in the place had broken down.

At home, my father – barely out of his teens – had a mother, a sick father, and three younger sisters to provide for, and suddenly there was no source of income. My father had only one option open to him – the government, committed to its socialist principles, continued to provide free tuition for all medical students, and moreover they provided a small stipend to students who were in the top 25% of their class. If my dad was to continue in medical school, he simply had to find a way to rank at the top of his class.

So he did. When he wasn’t in class, he had a textbook in his hand. His neighbors would later tell me that when they woke up at dawn, they’d see my father sitting on the family porch, book in hand; when they went to bed at night, they’d still see him sitting there, studying under a fluorescent light.

By the time he finished medical school in the summer of 1970, my father had a wife and a 10-month-old daughter to take care of in addition to his sisters and widowed mother. All he had in his pocket was a medical degree, a plane ticket, and a contract to begin his medical residency in a distant land called Michigan.

---

Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, I was blissfully unaware of all of this. I was born in June, 1975, in the suburban Detroit hospital my father trained at; two weeks later my dad completed his Cardiology fellowship, packed up the family, and drove to his new job in Wichita. Like most of his classmates who journeyed with him, my dad never originally intended to stay in America forever, not when his family was back in Syria, not when his mother country was in desperate need of well-trained physicians. Their goal all along was to stay in America just long enough to save up enough money to live comfortably back home. That was why they accepted jobs in small towns like Wichita and Appleton, Wisconsin and Moline, Illinois. Save as much money as you can for a few years, and get out.

Sociologists speak of “the myth of return” – the notion intrinsic to immigrant communities that one day they will return home, no matter how unrealistic that return might be. It’s a dangerous myth, because so long as they expect to return, there’s no incentive for them to integrate themselves into their new society.

For my dad and his classmates, the myth died quickly. My dad visited Syria in 1977, planning to scope out a possible return. He found a country in the grip of a socialist, totalitarian government, with an economy in much worse shape than when he left in 1970. A country where money was scarce, electricity was rationed, and where the greatest ambition for the best and brightest students was to study and move abroad like he had already done. In that moment, my dad realized he was an American. “I could have gone back and lived comfortably,” my dad would later tell us. “But there was no way I could let you kids grow up in a country without a future.”

I’ve long tried to imagine what it would be like for me to move in my mid-twenties to a country on the other side of the world, where I barely spoke the language, where the only people I knew were the few friends who came with me, and then create a life there, knowing that my children would grow up completely immersed in their new culture, without any memory or connection to the one I grew up in. It’s hard enough for me to imagine changing my allegiances towards a freaking baseball team. Embracing a new country? I could never do it. My parents did.

My parents threw themselves whole-heartedly into the new life they had chosen for themselves. Whether it was the PTA or the hospital’s medical establishment or the local tennis club, my parents attached as many strands as possible to the web that made up Wichita society. Before I ever identified myself as a Muslim or as someone of Arab descent, I knew myself as an American. And I never knew that I was supposed to find a dichotomy between those parallel identities. No one ever told me I couldn’t be both American and Muslim, because my parents wouldn’t let them.

Along with my two older sisters and younger brother, I lived an idyllic childhood growing up in Wichita. My brother and I manned a lemonade stand the summer I turned 6; my mom no doubt spent more money on powdered lemonade than we ever made selling it (10 cents a cup!) We watched Saturday morning cartoons like everyone else, until that exciting moment in 1982 when the USA Network started the USA Cartoon Express – cartoons on Sundays too!

I grew up reading A Cricket in Times Square and Henry Huggins and the Encyclopedia Brown books. When I was older I graduated to that uniquely American genre, science fiction, devouring the books of Isaac Asimov, who himself was the child of immigrant parents and whose name was also worth a lot of points in Scrabble.

My parents recognized my precociousness early and did their best to cultivate it. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I suddenly became obsessed with learning as much as I could about Americana, and with my parents’ help I sent away for information from the Chamber of Commerce of every big city in America. Soon my bedroom was filled with pamphlets and brochures about the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia.

Soon thereafter I became a Weather Channel junkie – I’m guessing all the cool multi-colored maps were the thing – and would watch by myself for hours at a time. One of the shows invited viewers to submit their own weather questions to be read on the air. My parents not only helped me to submit my question, but when I was picked, they helped arrange for me to read my question live on the air. I was just 7 when I made my national media debut; I believe my question went something like this: “I understand that hurricane season runs from June to November. Has there ever been a hurricane outside of hurricane season?” Yes, I know: a scintillating question. I was 7. Leave me alone. (And if you want to know the answer – you know you’re just dying to find out – click here.)

The summer I turned 8, I was at a friend’s house and we were looking for something to do when his mother said, “why don’t you play that dragon game you just bought?” And so I entered the world of (Advanced) Dungeons & Dragons, which given my obsessive personality devoured a good chunk of my free time for the next seven years.

And, of course, there was baseball. I have no memory of George Brett’s white-hot summer of 1980, but I have no doubt that I owe my position today to the relevance of the Royals on the national scene throughout the late 70s and early 80s. My first baseball memory was of the Brewers blowing out the Cardinals in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series; then of Fred Lynn’s grand slam in the 1983 All-Star Game – even then I was an AL partisan. My first Royals memory is of a Royals-Yankees game I watched live on July 24th, 1983: the Pine Tar game.

My dad generally encouraged all of my interests, though he was decidedly lukewarm about my baseball obsession. Like any immigrant who owed his success in America to hard work, he was puzzled by America’s cultural obsession with sport. He had nothing against sports; he just didn’t understand how ordinary people might schedule their lives around them. For his oldest son, baseball was just a distraction from the ultimate goal of becoming a doctor as well.

Even so, in 1981 my father spent $50 to buy his numbers-crazed six-year-old a copy of the brand-new edition of The Baseball Encyclopedia, which ran a little over 2200 pages. It was my most-prized possession until I left for college a decade later.

When it became clear to my dad that my love for baseball was not a passing fad, even through college and medical school, many times he would say to me, “Son, I hope that one day you find your baseball in medicine.” I hope you find your life’s passion in your career.

My parents didn’t simply embrace America’s secular traditions, but even while holding fast to their own faith, they found a way to accommodate America’s religious ones as well. We had a Christmas tree like everyone else; we participated in Easter egg hunts like everyone else. The year I turned 13, my parents even sent me to Camp Kanakuk, a Christian summer camp tucked away in the Ozarks, for two weeks. This was 1988, before the Berlin Wall fell and when the Soviets were still our greatest enemy, so I was viewed with curiosity more than suspicion. “You’re a Muslim? Wow. I’ve never met one of you before.”

I didn’t see much of my father as a child; as a cardiologist building his practice, he was frequently on call and usually working late. But he made sure the times we spent together were special. My dad had grown up watching westerns and war movies in the cinemas of Damascus – before they were shut down – and loved nothing more than to watch a good World War II flick. And he made sure my brother and I watched them with him. Whether it was The Guns of Navarone or A Man Called Intrepid or The Longest Day, my dad would sit us down at night to watch. He’d let us stay up past our bedtime, and in return we’d do our best to comprehend what the hell was going on.

My dad enjoyed no movie quite as much as he enjoyed Ike: The War Years, a five-hour mini-series that came out in 1980, during the Golden Age of Mini-Series, with Robert Duvall in the starring role. I’ve only watched it, beginning to end, a couple dozen times. It’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve seen it, and I’m sure I could still recite half the lines by heart. Every other kid of my generation knew actor Paul Gleason as the malignant principal in The Breakfast Club. I knew him as Beetle, the genial aide to General Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was even more of a hero to my dad because he was a Republican. My dad, like most of his Syrian doctor friends, were proud Reagan Republicans, as you might expect from men who through sheer hard work had pulled themselves up by their bootstraps from a life of uncertainty in another country to become successful and wealthy physicians in America. They’ve all reluctantly been forced to become Democrats now, after the GOP made it clear that Muslims are no longer welcome in the party, but Dwight David Eisenhower still holds an exalted place with my father as one of our nation’s greatest presidents. Even better – he grew up in Kansas! More than once my dad would load my brother and I into the car and make the two-hour trek to Abilene to visit the Eisenhower Library and Museum.

In 1983, Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War would come to the small screen, and it was as if the mini-series was made for us. We watched it as a family – all 12 hours of it – at least once or twice a year through the end of the 1980s. You might know Ali McGraw from Love Story; I only know her from this.

At no time in all of this did it strike me as incongruous that my family would have such a passion for World War II movies, would identify so strongly with America’s struggle to defeat the Nazis. No one in my family served in the war, obviously; we had no personal connection to it. (“But I was born during the Battle of the Bulge,” my dad would remind me.) All that mattered was that we were American, and the war was an indelible part of American history. If our connection to this country debuted after 1945, what of it? We were part of a nation of immigrants; the exact year of immigration seemed a pointless detail.

My dad didn’t have time to volunteer with the Cub Scouts, but when I came to him asking for help to build a car for the Pinewood Derby, I saw a side of him I hadn’t seen before. He took me into the basement, opened a toolbox that I didn’t know existed, and in the span of an hour or two molded a block of wood and some plastic wheels into a sleek racing car. I was as astonished as any eight-year-old kid could be. I knew my father was smart, and hard-working, and respected, but until that moment I had no idea that he could be cool.

There was a lot that I would soon learn about my father, and his father, and his father’s father. I learned that my dad was so handy because he had grown up around my grandfather’s machine shop. I learned that my grandfather was a mechanical savant, who during World War II, when there was an acute shortage of metal parts, devised a method to repair a specific defect in Crossley diesel engines using only scrap metal. It was so ingenious that, after the war, representatives from the England-based company came to Damascus and asked him to show them what he had done. Afterwards, they sent him a thank-you letter, along with an offer to pay full tuition, room and board for his young son – my father – should he ever choose to study engineering in England.

I learned about my great-grandfather, Mahmoud, who was a soldier in the Ottoman army and spent nearly a decade in a Siberian prison camp before he was released during the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. I learned about my great-great-grandfather, also Muhammad Yunus, whose story needs its own blog post, and just might get it.

The more I learned about my family, the more I understood just what my parents had given up when they came to America. It was easy as a child to be oblivious to the sacrifices my parents had made, because my own life was so free of worries. It was only as a teenager that I realized that the ease with which I considered myself an American was a testament to just how hard my parents strove to do the same thing.

We all learned in our history textbooks about the great and glorious history of immigrants to our nation’s shores. I knew about Jamestown and the Pilgrims, about indentured servants and the slave trade, about refugees from the Irish potato famine in the 1840s and Jews escaping European anti-Semitism in the 1920s and 1930s. I knew that immigrants built this country, and I knew that each wave of immigrants had to conquer bigotry and racism before they could take their place on the tapestry of American life.

Maybe that’s why I never really felt like the child of immigrants myself. Immigrants are supposed to struggle before they, or more likely their grandchildren, found acceptance in America. I never had to struggle to be accepted. I knew I was different, but then in America we’re all different, aren’t we? That’s why I thank God every day that I was born in America, where more than anywhere else in the world – and today even more than in the past – a child of immigrant parents can be accepted right away as an equal member of society, where no opportunities are denied us, where no dream is too big to dream.

And I thank God for the sacrifices my parents made to come here, because it was their willingness to share the same dreams and endure the same hardships as the generations of immigrants before them that made my life possible. A Boeing 747 may have been their crossing ship, and a terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport may have been their Ellis Island. But they were immigrants just the same. They suffered the heartache of leaving the only land they ever called home just the same.

My father is 65 now, and retires at the end of the month. (It’s his third retirement; once a doctor, always a doctor. I’m hoping this one sticks.) Even after 40 years, the pull of the homeland remains strong, and my parents plan to split their time between the States and Syria, where economically if not politically, things are headed in the right direction. Forty years ago he came to America with nothing; today, he retires to a life of comfort, having watched his children grow up to become two doctors, a lawyer, and an MBA. (Or as we call it, the Jazayerli HMO.)

Only in America. And only to someone that believed in, and worked for, the American Dream.

So today, on Father’s Day, I just want to say: thanks, Dad. (And Mom!) Thanks for making the impossible sacrifices that only a parent could make for their child. Thanks for putting up with the snotty, bratty, spoiled, selfish complaints of children who could not possibly comprehend, let alone appreciate, what you did for them. Thanks for giving me a guidepost as I try to figure out how to raise my own three children. Above all, thanks for giving us the one thing every parent wants to give their children: a better life than the one you grew up in.

And Dad: I’m not sure I ever found my baseball in medicine. But I did find my medicine in baseball.

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

A peanut vendor would gave been a much better choice for GM than Dayton Moore.

What exactly was the point of this puff piece? Run out of good things to say about your hero, Dayton Moore?

Anonymous said...

Rany- So, do you wish your biological father a Happy Fathers Day?

Or do you wish Dayton a Happy Fathers Day since he is your Daddy now?

Andy B said...

Rany, thank you for sharing this beautiful story. The United States is a better place with the Jazayerlis in it. Happy Father's Day, and God bless you all.

AxDxMx said...

Nice tribute to your father Rany. I look forward to hearing the story about your great-great-grandfather.

Jolson said...

Great article, Rany! I also look forward to reading the story of your great-great-grandfather. Happy Father's Day to you and your father!

Anonymous said...

just could not resist...

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-06-20/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DilbertDailyStrip+%28Dilbert+Daily+Strip%29

Jim said...

Thanks for posting this, Rany. It's good to hear that America can still work (despite our faults).

Anonymous said...

That was a wonderful read... happy father's day to you.

Keith G said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great read, Rany.
Gives us a good history lesson of Syria as well.
Ironically, My father left the Democats because the don't accept Christianity.
Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there.
God Bless

hellrotbill said...

Excellent post Rany.

Happy Father's Day to you.

Hooligan said...

Rany, thanks for the great post.

Anonymous said...

awesome post Rany. Loved it.

Anonymous said...

And this relates to the Royals how? Save it for your biography Rany. I would rather talk baseball.

First your love for Dayton, now a random feel good piece? You're slipping bigtime Jazyrelli.

bankmeister said...

And I thank your parents as well. Without their sacrifices, you would not be where you are, and I (and the rest of us) would not be able to read your awesome bloggery. Thanks for sharing. Cheers, and happy father's day.

Cookierojas73 said...

Great piece, Rany! You are indeed a fortunate man.

Interesting how every idiotic, ignorant post is always anonymous...and gutless.

Scott K. said...

Ignore the trolls bove.

Great article, Rany. Thanks for posting.

BobDD said...

fantastic, thanks for the personal bio of someone I feel like I've come to 'know' over the years

at one point you said your family left gop because they do not accept Muslims - I'm in the dark on that, please elaborate as I cannot guess what that means

Anonymous said...

Guess what trolls, this is Rany's blog. He can post old Cathy comics if he feels the need. You want to control the content? Get your own blog.

Great story Rany. Glad your parents ended up staying and allowing you to become the man (writer, doctor, fan, etc.) that you are today.

Jason said...

alot of anonymous douchebags in this comment section. rany wants to post something nice about his dad and you guys wanna be idiots. take your shit somewhere else. you're trash.

love your blog rany, post whatever the hell you want.

Anonymous said...

I love how everyone here thanks Rang is going to answer their comments.....he thinks he is too big time to stoop low enough to converse with us mere mortals.

But we know the truth Rany. We have been here through the good times and bad and see right thru you holier than thou attitude. Trying thanking you fans (the few that are left anyway) for putting you where you are.

You sellout to Dayton Moore, "Big time" yourloyal fans and now expect us to read some fluff piece about your family- as if no other family has ever faced challenges?

Don't you have another "Dayton is Great" piece to write, SELLOUT?

Gerard said...

Fantastic, Rany. Happy Fathers Day.

Old Man Duggan said...

I guess no post is going to stop the ridiculous "Anonymous" poster(s?) from calling you a Dayton apologist. Pay no mind, Rany. Great post, even if it was then denigrated by trolls.

And you learn something from each one of your posts. In this one, I discovered that the Ba'athist coup d'etat led to the founding of The Baseball Prospectus and Pitcher Abuse Points.

DiggityDawg said...

Very nice read, sir. And Happy Fathers Day.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. Your family is what america is all about.

rey rey said...

awesome Rany...that was great!

BTW---the troll posts are mostly from one person

Anonymous said...

Here's to being an anonymous commenter with non-angry words! Loved the post. Look forward to learning a little more about you. (in a non-psycho way).

Anonymous said...

Better to be labeled a troll than a traitor like Jazyerelli.

skeptic said...

Why is it that a cross in a jar of urine can be considered "art", but a cartoon drawing of Muhammad will get the artist killed?

If New York allows a mosque to be built at ground zero, will the Muslim world allow a Jewish temple in Mecca?

I applaud Rany's father for finding his American dream, but until good Muslims do more to condemn the Islamists, Muslims will unfortunately be looked upon with suspicion.

Jennifer L said...

Rany, longtime reader, first time poster. Thanks for giving us a glimpse to your life. It takes guts (more guts and grit than jason kendall exhibits in the two-hole) to share personal info with anybody. For a lot of us, you really do feel like a friend (no amount of Royal losses can break a friendship). And thanks for putting up with us through the good, bad, and ugly sides some of us show. Let's get a win tomorrow night!

Anonymous said...

cool post! First time reader
goin to read every blog now

Anonymous said...

Anon,

Way to attack a guy! Boldly Courageous.

jason said...

some people feel big by acting like a bad ass on the internet. makes up for his garbage life and small penis. this anon poster is pathetic.

Mike said...

Rany,

Happy Father's Day! I very much enjoyed reading about your family and what it went through to get where you are today. You come from a long lineage of wise and hard-working men, and I feel like I know you better now that I've read this post.

Please ignore the anonymous idiot(s) who are obviously lacking in the intelligence department. Good grief, Dayton Moore starts to make some moves that actually make sense and will help the long-term success of the Royals, and people get upset at you for writing a positive piece about him. Some people are ill.

Thanks again.

DBO said...

Thanks for sharing this Rany. It is always nice to know a little more about the people who's words I read religously. I can tell you have come from a great family and truly appreciate that you shared this with us!

Chicago Muslim said...

Wow Rany - didn't even know you had a blog. Good post (not a baseball fan, so not planning on being a regular).

To: "skeptic" do you realize how racist you are?

1) Yes. there are Muslim nut-jobs. Yes western culture (at least today) is more mature about tolerating insults to its cultural/religious underpinnings, we are working on being more mature like you. Happy?

2) NYC is not equal to Mecca. Maybe "Vatican City"=Mecca. No mosques or synagogues or temples in the Vatican, last I checked. No one, even bigots like yourself, is even asking for it.

NYC is more like Karachi, Cairo, or Damascus-- large metropolises of the Muslim world-- each of them have churches (plural). Happy?

3) America is directly or indirectly responsible for 500k to a million deaths in Iraq on false pretenses (non-existent WMDs). Are Muslims more violent?



--- back to Rany et al
I do find it notable that so many Muslims bought in to the manufactured myth of the republicans they were the party of bootstrapping and individuality while the democrats were the commie/anti-personal-responsibility party.

Much of what broke with America during the Bush administration was really started during the Reagan administration. Our elders unwittingly helped this along.

Personally, I think we should exhume ike and clone him. He would have been better than nearly all the jokers since.

Michael said...

I am a former Anonymous poster who finally took the 2 minutes it takes to create a google account. I didn't want to be lumped in with trash like troll-man.

My question for troll-man-Can you seriously not see all the positives that have come out of the Dayton Moore era so far? Yes, the big league team is a big joke, but it was that way long before him as well. The big difference is in our minor leagues. We have a ton of talent down there now, whereas in the past, we only had a few actual prospects each year. I know that hasn't translated into major league wins yet, but give it time.

Terry Ryan, the architect of the Twins rise back to contention, endured 7 horrible losing seasons before his work paid off. Patience is a virtue my friend.

Christopher said...

Chicago Muslim:
- I would be very happy if Muslims did actually work on being more mature about dealing with insults to their religion. Thanks for asking.
- Iraq was based on evidence that turned out to be false, however, it was believed by many to be true at the time. Would you prefer the United States to Shock and Awe, find not WMDs and then peace out? I think you might prefer nation-building. Are Americans more violent than Muslims? No. Are Muslims more violent than Americans? No. But we both have our bad people. Why can't we just say it like it is... some Muslims are horrible people. Some Americans are horrible people. Regrettable.
- I don't know what you mean about the myth of Republicans being the party of bootstrapping. It's always been like that, and is even more so today. Again, both sides have their corrupt politicians (If you live in Chicago, you're well aware). But seriously, Democrats have always been the party that wanted to give hand outs and support labor unions so they could get (what are now) outrageous benefits and contracts. So, I'm glad Rany's father was a Republican, and I wish he would have stayed that way. Although, I can understand why he would leave after 9/11. Still, I think if I were in that position, I would stay with the party that I agreed with, rather than go to a party that pretends to be friends of minorities. (Democrats are no friends of black people, and are certainly not very fond of Jews.)
- Oh and by the way... what is broke with America is every president SINCE Reagan. I prefer Bush over Obama any day because he at least wasn't corrupt. So what's broke with American is Chicago politics, which has regretfully made its way to Washington.

Holden Cornfield said...

Rany, excellent tribute to your father. I very much enjoyed learning about your family heritage. Thank you for sharing.

On the other hand, I almost wish I hadn't taken the time to read the comments...a few of them are very disturbing. I'm embarrassed to know that I share an interest (Royals) with such a degenerate. To Anon, whoever you are, you are a sad little man. You really should be a Yankees fan.

Keep up the good work, Rany, I enjoy your perspectives very much. And I salute your father for all he has accomplished.

bokonin said...

Great piece, Rany. As my friends don't tend to care even remotely about baseball, this is the first time I've had a chance to link one your articles on Facebook; you or at least your dad have a few new fans for the moment.

I'd had the vague notion of starting out with a pretend Anonymous idiocy before the compliment (something like "yet another Allah Is Perfect piece? What does He pay you, sellout?") because I figured the real hecklers would have the very minimal decency to sit this one out and you'd miss them. Oh well. Not your fault; my best to your family, males and females both.

ChaimMKeller said...

Rany, that tribute to your father and grandfather was beautiful. Our generation of Americans really can't imagine how easy we have it.

Physician really must be a prime occupation in Syria - Bashar Assad himself is one, isn't he? (An optometrist, IIRC?)

Jim said...

Hi Rany,

I always have enjoyed whatever you have written (9 time out of 10 agreed too)... so thinking about driving out from Colorado for my next skin check up! (joking... for now). Keep it up and thank you--sometimes I am ashamed of how ridiculous a country I live in--it is good to be reminded that we have melting pot/salad etc that makes for a strong conglomeration of a great country!

Anonymous said...

This is a very nice and heartwarming piece, and one that makes me respect the sacrifices and journeys that some take to be apart of this country.

Rany - as a first time commenter, I appreciate the trend of "glass-half-full" posts, it appears your late season sabbatical gave you some good perspective. Maybe some of your commenters should consider a similar break.

Bryan said...

Rany-

Very enjoyable read. I too look forward to the post about your grandfather.

Maybe our common interest in baseball can help us to understand each other in new and enlightened ways.

The biggest reason for the fear of Muslims in the Western world is our lack of understanding Muslims. Yes there are bad people on all sides, but we don't need to fear Muslims in general, and we might come to understand the radicals and do a better job of defending our nation and others, if we had a better understanding of the Muslim teachings and culture.

Thank you for this post, and as always, continue the good work.

Anonymous said...

bravo, Rany!

Anonymous said...

Terrible article.


Whats next? A piece on your second cousins aunt? Please.

Juancho said...

Good piece. Obviously deeply thought out.

One quibble: I'm a Republican, and I welcome everyone, no matter their race, religion, color, or national origin, to our political party.

I don't think the Republican Party is perfect: we have loudmouths like Bill O'Reilly and not very smart people like Sarah Palin. Don't judge all of us by them. Bobby Jindal is a Republican, too.

But I think the great majority of Republicans would be proud if a Muslim American chose to join our party.

clete6 said...

Thanks, Rany. One more piece of evidence that you're not just one of the best baseball writers, but one of the best writers, period.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said, Christopher.

Anonymous said...

There must be a better place than blogger.com for your blog. One that requires you to have a user name and you can track IP address of those idiotic posters.

Anonymous said...

Rany you magnificent man! What a nice surprise piece of writing. I thought my son was the only one dragged to Abilene spending hours at the Eisenhower sites.

My kids jokingly mock me at times about how often I used to tell them, "just think, two hundred miles separated the birthplace of two of the most powerful me in the world at a time the world needed us."

Just one request, please give us your poison ivy cure.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post - and thanks for taking the time to share.

uday said...

instead of baseball, we get an after school special. who gives a shit? The best thing any arab could do would be to get get a vasectomy at the first sign of puberty. God knows we have enough of them running around without adding more

we certainly don't need to be praising the ones who have bred

King Fitz said...

Great piece, Rany. Thanks for sharing it. As much as I love baseball, there are more important things in life. I have forwarded this on to my four adult children so that they can appreciate how good they have had it, and how hard some people work to become successful. And I for one would welcome you back as a Republican.

King Fitz said...

By the way, I apologize for those Anonymous insulting posts. Real brave. Why don't you geeks quit hiding behind your computer screen? You are true pieces of shit.

Dave Chalk said...

Confused about GOP comment. After 9/11 every time I turned on the news I saw Bush or Cheney shoeless in a Mosque telling Muslims that a few zealots hijacked an otherwise beautiful and peaceful religion. Not sure what more you wanted them to do.

John said...

As a Republican myself, I have no problem with Muslims. Every religion has its fanatics. I wish Muslims did more to control their radical elements, but Rany has spoken out on this subject for years. Right after 9/11, he did a column talking about how those acts were not compatible with the Islamic faith, and condemning them.

Rany, thanks for sharing your story with us. So many people have come to our country because of oppressive governments in their homeland, and found opportunity here. I'm glad the Jazayerli family is among them.

P.S.: To the person who suggested that "Anon" should be a Yankees fan--I'm a Red Sox fan, and even I wouldn't wish that clown on the Yankees.

Anonymous said...

Rany, I hear Dayton Moore HATES Arabs......

Anonymous said...

Considering that no one pays to subscribe to your personal blog, I'm not sure why it matters to them what you write about.
I've been reading this blog since its formation, and read the one with rob neyer for a long time prior to that, but honestly I think I might have enjoyed this post more than any other.

Andy said...

This was a very heart warming post Rany, thank!!

Also, have they stopped putting up podcasts of your radio show? I haven't seen one for a while.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rany. I love this.

~David

Wabbitkiller said...

The first two posts are pretty pathetic. I'm sure the immature losers that posted them are proud of themselves.

Great post about your dad Rany. I only wish mine were still here (died from cancer 7 years ago).

babylives said...

I can't help but LMAO at the anonymous troll. Gee, did Rany slight you in some manner in the past? You're acting like a jaded lover! LMAO at your patheticness!

Adam said...

Awesome piece. I am always interested to hear about the background of others, and I'm always amazed by the amount of hardship that many go through for things that I sometimes take for granted. Your family made some amazing sacrifices and accomplishments and should be proud of what they have done.

Scott B. said...

Great post. What a sad man making the digs at Rany. If you hate his blog, don't read.

I'm disappointed in the Republican party but certainly don't think the Dems are a better option. . .

Robert said...

Thank, Rany, for the excellent post. I was amazed to find the negativity on the comment board after such a thoughtful and insightful post. There is a LOT of anger in America these days and I think a lot of people just don't realize how good they have it.

You should be proud of your family. Just keep writing what you truly feel, and while some will lash out with hateful comments, most of us will continue to respect and appreciate your work.

RobWilliams71

GregN said...

A beautiful piece, thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Rany's insight on of all teams the Spoils is reason to thank a higher power.

I challenge all anonymous responders to follow my lead in shaking the dank dark hidden internet shadows and grow a pair.

MY NAME IS.......

Robert "Bob" Smith My friends call me Bobby.
My wife is named Jane formerly Jane Doe of the NY Does.
bsmith@heatmail.com
1234 Main Street (two blocks from the Elm Street McDonald's corner)
I drive a 4 door Jeep
North Springfield USA

Anonymous said...

Why would you soil an inspiring story and thoughtful tribute with an idiotic comment like this?

"They’ve all reluctantly been forced to become Democrats now, after the GOP made it clear that Muslims are no longer welcome in the party,"

Anonymous said...

Rany what did you get Daddy Dayton for Father Days? We are on pins and needles waiting for your answer. Did you get him a Braves Jersey? A Mariners hat? Cmon, we are friends here....answer.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be anonymous. I rarely ever post, but I would like to give a message to Rany and the readers.

Rany -- Thank you for sharing a beautiful story. You should be proud of your father, who is a great man.

Readers -- If you don't like what's being written...don't read it! It's that simple.

Mike Fast said...

Thank you for sharing this story, Rany. It was very touching. You brought tears to my eyes.

C said...

Rany- great tribute to your father. I absolutely love your blog and look forward with great anticipation to each post. Here’s what’s odd to me. You gave us a great perspective, from someone who has a perspective/history from outside a free market, capitalistic society. Your family has lived with the heavy hand of the state taking private property and confiscating personal wealth. You mentioned the socialists (in Syria), raging against apparent injustice in the capitalistic society take over, and then proceed to actually commit acts of injustice of nationalizing industry. Yet, you supported our current president in the election, who was at least seen prior to the election as a HARD leftist, now many would say a socialist. He’s nationalized an American car company and even your own industry, medicine. I guess history repeats itself again…sigh. Sorry for the politics, but I see, for someone who is painfully logical and right on about SO much…some inconsistency.

Keep blogging. I’m a HUGE fan!

Go Royals!

Anonymous said...

Dayton Moore is a Socialist.

skeptic said...

Chicao Muslim's post proves the point. Instead of acknowledging the fact that most of the Muslim world continue to remain silent or cheer attacks against the west, Chicago Muslim blames the US for "500,000 to a million deaths in Iraq."

Really? If that number is accurate then the US must have saved the lives of millions of others that would have otherwise parished under the continued reign of Saddam Hussein.

Radical Islam tolerates no dissent. Neither, it seems, does Chicago Muslim.

Jay said...

What you described at the beginning of the post about nationalization and overtaking of industries is exactly what's happening here now under Obama.

That's why I can't for the life of me understand why so many people are blind to this.

What incites anger towards immigrants from those with longer generational roots in America is that so many new immigrants don't appreciate the America's greatness. And they buy in the liberal concept of victimhood. They think the deck is stacked against them when it isn't. And it never has been. Here in the USA, if you put in the time and effort to better yourself, you can always better yourself. This has always been true because our founding fathers had such a profound level of humility that's never been seen since.

So many people from so many backgrounds get so caught up in social issues when the only things that really matter are the fiscal ones. The ones liberals suck at.

And suggesting that Republicans hate Muslims is ridiculous. Republicans hate terrorists. It just so happens 99.99% of terrorists are Muslim. With few exceptions, that's fact. You can't blame Republicans for that.

C said...

jay- i agree with you 100%!

Bryan said...

Rany,

I've only just now gotten around to reading this beautiful post. Bravo!

I've never been to the Eisenhower Library, but my first Royals memory is also the pine tar game.

Thanks for sharing with the masses a little cultural history of a place that most of us will never visit and no next-to-nothing about.

And, keep the faith! I believe the Boys are headed in the right direction.

Rechelle said...

Rany - my husband reads your blog. I don't. I can only stand to watch baseball when one of my kids is playing and barely even that. Anyway - the old man told me to read this post because he thought I would like it and I did. It's great. Thanks for sharing it.