The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, June 19, 2003  

Missing the Shah of Iran

William Safire, that nattering nabob of necromancy, is scaring up the old ghosts again. Today Safire gets all misty-eyed and nostalgic recalling a pleasant visit to Iran and a personal meeting with the murderous Shah of Iran, Muhammad Reza Pahlevi (“Rumblings in Iran,” New York Times, June 19):

The Shah, greeting the White House staff individually, asked if I was enjoying my stay. I said I wished I could go antique shopping in Ferdowsi Square, but we had to leave early next morning.

The Shah said imperiously to an aide, “Keep the shops open.” And so, after the state dinner, a bunch of somewhat embarrassed Nixon aides found bleary-eyed Iranian shopkeepers awaiting us in downtown Tehran.

Then we heard shouting around the corner, and what seemed like shots. Our minders said the noise came from hooligans, so we shrugged it off. But before the decade was out, a tide of those demonstrators, conspiring with a network of mullahs, deposed the Shah and imposed a more malevolent dictatorship.

Ah, yes, “a more malevolent dictatorship.” They’re a scary gang of theocratic thugs without whom the world would be a better place, I agree.

And yet they’re also not the kind of dictators who are all that keen on enabling White House mouthpieces to shop for rugs, caviar, pistachio nuts, and brass elephants any time of night as they drop in to pay fawning tribute to so despicable a creature, and so unworthy an ally, as the late and normally unlamented Shah.

You know, Bill, in the good old days, things weren’t always all that great either.

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