Wednesday's District Line column was about holiday cards being sent to the hostages in Tehran (although nobody knows whether the Iranians will deliver some, or all, or none of them.)
That column also told about the request made by the relatives of the hostages. The relatives asked each of us to send a letter or a postcard to the Embassy of Iran, 3005 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, to demand that the hostages be released at once.
My source at the State Department thought the suggestion from the relatives was a good one, and he urged me to publicize it.
As soon as I did, I began to hear from readers who said they were about to send letters, or had already dispatched letters on Wednesday.
However, one caller said, "Sending cards and letters to the Iranian Embassy here is a good idea, but I may have a better one, or at least a supplemental technique that will help make an impression on the Iranians."
What's your idea? I asked.
Don't just write to the Iranian Embassy in Washington," he said. "Phone them, too. The number is in the book -- 797-6500. Out-of-town readers would have to use our area code, 202. I call them several times a day to plead with them. I say, 'Won't you please let our people go?" If they hang up on me or scream at me, I call back. The reason I think more phone calls would add impact is that letters can be thrown into the wastebasket unopened. But you can't throw a phone call into the wastebasket. Somebody must answer a ringing phone, somebody must hear at least part of the message before the phone is hung up."
"I like what you say," I told him. "I'm going to print it, but not with your name. I don't want to get you killed by identifying you."
"Thanks," he said. "These people engage in such eratic conduct that I suppose it's just as well not to give them a blueprint on where to find me."
As Mother Bell syas in her radio commercials, "Reach out, reach out and touch someone." Who knows? Maybe even the present Iranian government can be touched. Let's give them a ring.
Our protest to Iran may fail to produce the release of the hostages, but we have a solemn obligation to try every reasonable course open to us. We may not succeed, but we certainly must try. GET IN LINE
A friend of a friend was talking about the Iranian situation the other night. The more he talked, the angrier he became.
Finally he said, "You know what? I'm going to call the State Department in the morning and tell them I'm willing to adopt the shah as my son. Then they'll have to let him in permanently. I've got a spare room in my house. He can use that. Free. No rent."
My friend tried to talk his friend out of the idea, but the next morning the guy called the State Department and told them what he proposed to do. The answer was, in effect, "Get in line, Mac. A couple of thousand other people are ahead of you on that one."
I suppose many of these people are altruists, or patroits, or just plain angry about the hostages. But here and there among them, there must be a few who slyly thought to themselves, "If I'm nice to a guy who stole umpteen billion dollars, he might be grateful enough to let a little of it rub off on me."
Perhaps so. But I can assure them that the shah isn't about to sleep in their spare bedroom -- unless, of course, their house is big enough to provide additional rooms for his dozens of bodyguards, servants and hangers-on. p Dec. 7, 1941
Almost on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese have found a way to antagonize the charitable Americans who helped lift them out of the pit of defeat after World War II.
The Japanese Embassy might be interested to know that I have already begun to hear from readers who are bitter about Japan's refusal to support our boycott of Iranian oil. One caller said:
"A dandy place to begin teaching our little brothers the meaning of the English word cooperation is by putting a zero import quota on Japanese TVs, radios and stereo equipment. We can live very nicely without buying these products from Japan. Can they live very nicely without selling us all that stuff? I doublt it. If this is going to be a world in which everybody selfishly goes his own way, let's give them a taste of waht it's like to be on the receiving end."
Reach out, reach out and touch someone, Knock, knock. Who's there? Tokyo. Tokyo who? Could we tokyo out of befriending Iran at a time when you ought to be helping us pressure Iran into releasing the hostages?