Friday, February 19, 2016

Persepolis Remembered

The BBC's new documentary on the Shah of Iran's 1971 celebrations of the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire is now online. I do not, of course, endorse the BBC's evident anti-Shah bias, but there is some terrific footage in this, and some eloquent pro-Shah interviewees as well. Grand spectacle has been a part of all great monarchies, but in Iran too many people were seduced by evil revolutionaries like Khomeini while the naive Carter administration put pressure on the Shah that only emboldened his enemies, paving the way for the Revolution (in my estimation one of history's three worst, the other two being the French and Russian) that destroyed nearly everything he had achieved for Iran. Implicitly blaming the 1971 Persepolis festivities for all Islamic terrorism since 1979 is unfair and myopic. As for SAVAK, well, when I see what republicans in today's considerably gentler constitutional monarchies do with their Freedom, I have a hard time feeling sorry for the Shah's opponents. In the end he was if anything too indulgent. But I wish I could have called such a king mine.

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