An Hour With Rick Steves

People are just people, living uncomplicated lives


An Hour With Rick Steves
by Ghahremani

More than three decades have gone by, and yet the sounds of fury are strong. Not a day goes by without someone mentioning the name of Iran with disrespect, if not disgust. Poor Iran with its unique people, a strong heart, and all her hopes being taken away by an oppressive regime that seems to care less.

Last week, my husband and I were invited to a gathering in San Diego to meet Rick Steves and hear his talk on European waterways. I have carried the memory of his 2008 documentary on Iran as if it had been a gift, if not a presentation in my own honor! According to his travel companion, Abdi Sami, “Rick’s intention was to put a human face on the people of Iran as opposed to the sensational news clips that tend to demonize people of other countries whose governments we don’t agree with.”

Richard “Rick” Steves is an author as well as television personality whose focus is on European travel. He is also the host of a travel series on American Public Television and his travel series are among the most popular programs nationwide. However, as deserving of praise as Mr. Steves’ achievements are, that is not the intention of this article. It is rather the impression of his fairness on one Iranian among many.

Mr. Steves began his presentation with projecting slides from his trips around the world and talked about some of the most interesting places he has visited. There were over a hundred people in the audience, but after glancing around, I realized that my husband and I were the only two with Iranian roots. So when he began to talk about Iran, I expected to hear a different tone. Somehow I had prepared for the possibility that in view of recent riots in Tehran, he might have changed his mind. After all, it would seem inappropriate to praise the people who had just invaded the Embassy of a close US ally.

He began with explaining how prior to his recent trip, his knowledge of Iran was limited to Ted Koppel’s reports! He went on to admit that those distorted images had made him so apprehensive that he almost did not take his big camera for fear he would raise suspicion. To my amazement and delight, he continued to elaborate on the good-natured people of Iran who had treated him with courtesy as well as the general benevolence of the Iranian nation.

Some of the slides showed young schoolgirls whose beautiful faces were framed in a black scarf and yet their smiles brightened the image. The images took me back to the last time I had visited. The place had changed and women appeared different in Islamic shroud, but they had maintained their pure essence. When he mentioned their genuine hospitality, it was as if he was thanking every one of us. With each word he uttered, I sat a little straighter, and raised my chin a little higher.

He concluded that people are just people, living uncomplicated lives and raising their families and he emphasized the fact that wars are never about people. “It’s the big corporations that need wars.” He explained the financial benefits of devastating wars and how a war is only possible when we distort a nation’s image. “It is easier to accept an attack on a nation if its people are dehumanized because then no one will object if we go in and kill thousands of them.” He spoke against an attack on Iran and explained how invading an embassy was a desperate act to find exposure on international media. “How else would they get on our TV screen?” he asked.

Rick Steves is right in believing that none of the commercial channels would have bought his program! How can anyone in this country sell ads during a program that empathizes with a nation they are supposed to fear? People’s voices are seldom heard and even when they are, Iranian’s recent “green movement” showed us how quickly their voices can be forgotten.

For, as long as there are those who want war, there will also be excuses. One day it is the Iran-Iraq relationship, another day it's the nuclear threat, and even after a nuclear disarmament, other excuses will be found, no doubt. Poor Iran, with the remnant of oil still flowing in its old veins, has seen plenty, heard plenty, and endured it all. The nation has lost too many of its heroes and now people keep their eyes to the skies in anticipation of an angelic savior. The angels may never come, but under the circumstances it seems as if the fairness of observers such as Mr. Steves is as angelic as we can hope for.

Zohreh Ghahremani is the author of Sky of Red Poppies, winner of One Book, One San Diego 2012.


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"Ted Koppel made a fortune

by Raoul1955 on

Out of ruining our name..."  Read Bahmani's post with clear mind, and stop blaming others...  Who overthrew a US-backed, secular, and very progressive regime in Iran? Who took the hostages?  Who embraced the islamic values?    The American reporters or the Iranian people?  Rhetorical questions, of course!


There's always a positive side.

by Ghahremani on


18 pt
18 pt


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I often enjoy Mr. Bahmani's comments, however, this tim I have a different view on the subject.

In a world where "oppression, tyranny and inhumanity" has a higher market that fairness and kind words, especially where a demonized nation is concerned, we need to think twice before attacking the one whose words may benefit us. It is no secret that journalism makes money. Ted Koppel made a fortune out of ruining our name, but no one asked him to "give us our cut!" Journalism is business and Rick Steves never claimed to be doing this for love. But let us think before we use "our own hands" to ruin something that may help us recover some of our good reputation.




by Joubin on




We can sit and wax pathetic, or we can do something.

by bahmani on

While apathy and giving in to one's unfortunate circumstances as merely our bad-bakhti and bad luck and worse fate in this life, is certainly one way of dealing with oppression, tyranny, and inhumanity.

Let me remind everyone that this situation we now find ourselves in, has been at the very hands of the same Iranians that appear angelic in these Rick Steves self serving only-for-profit videos.

Assuming anything commercial is automatically generous, is only further deluding and a convenient Stockholm Syndrome reaction to the facts.

Which are that our plight as Iranians is by our own hands.

By our own hands we took the hostages,
Worse, by our own hands we did nothing to stop it,
By our own hands we set up this ridiculous notion of governance through islamic poetry,
Worst, by our own hands, we have done nothing to stop it.

We can blame the US, Israel and everyone in the world, but the real honest fact is that this is all by our own hands. And by our own hands it can be corrected.

Oh for the day when Rick Steves can return to Iran and take the same picture on this post, with young smiling girls NOT wearing the dastardly chador.

Someone make a note and remember to charge him the appropriate right to use and copyright and royalty fees as well. If RS is going to make some decent money off Iran, regardless how much he loves us, I kind of want him to give us our cut.

To read more bahmani posts visit: //

Joan ValaNejad

Travel as a political act

by Joan ValaNejad on

Thank you Zohreh azizam.  I agree with you and with Rick Steves.  Met him in Oklahoma City. 

Check out the Rick Steves blog: 

Travel as a Political Act

Rick Steves' Travel as a Political Act Blog


People are just people?

by Raoul1955 on

Of course humans are BIOLOGICALLY similar to each other, but it is the CULTURAL norms/values [collectively] that differentiates one group [of humans] from another.   And that is what we have to focus on. 
Rick Steves sells videos and has to be very pleasant and charming...