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Photo essay: Farah Pahlavi on Barbara Walters

By Jahanshah Javid
March 7, 2008

I thought I should take some photographs while watching the Barbara Walters interview with Farah Pahlavi (on ABC's "20/20", Friday, March 5). I took about a hundred pictures and almost all of them are here for your viewing. Yes, there are a lot of pages to click and the quality of the pictures is nothing special. But the messages in every image are powerful enough to make us think about where we were and where we are.

As I was taking these pictures in front of the TV, Javaneh, my wife, made a few comments that showed our generational gap. We have similar points of view on the current political situation. But our views about pre-1979 Iran is inevitably different; I was there, she wasn't. She was born in 1978, right when the revolution was unfolding. Her only memory is of the post-Pahlavi era. I, on the other hand, was almost 17 when the monarchy fell in 1979.

"You deserve a good knock on the head," Javaneh joked. She was pointing at my enthusiasm for the revolution and the dozen years of loyal service at the Islamic Republic News Agency. How on earth could you demonstrate against THEM to bring us THESE? I was going to respond by saying, "In 1979, you would have been among the demonstrators too." But I didn't. There was no point -- at least none I would want to argue. I have lost the desire to defend my support for a just movement -- a movement that took a very ugly turn soon after the fall of the monarchy.

Then I thought about "20/20" vision and hindsight.. If I only knew...

If I was given a choice between keeping the Shah and what we've had for the past 25 years, I would have said, "Keep the Shah!" If I had known that thousands would be executed because of political or ideological differences, I would have given my vote to the Shah. If I knew hundreds of thousands would be killed in a prolonged 8-year war, I would not have supported the revolution. If I had understood that under Khomeini, women would lose so many of their rights and dignity, I would have favored the monarchy. If I was mature enough to know that religion and politics should not mix, I would have...

Let me go back further in time, just to set the record straight. When the Shah left the country, I would have sided with Shapour Bakhtiar's government. In 1953, I would have supported Mossadegh. In Reza Shah's time, I would have been a right-wing secular nationalist or a pro-Moscow communist (I can't decide which). In Nasseredin Shah's time, I imagine I would have been a pro-Western constitutionalist. Everything before the 1870s is a blur...

I'm reading these lines and wondering why do I care? Why do I need to explain my political views? Do I feel guilty? Do I feel regret? Probably. But I'm also amazed by the wide range of my political sympathies and where it may be heading: From a teenage monarchist, to an Islamic Republicanist to a pro-reformist to now, a secular democrat. Am I a member of the infamous Hezb-e Baad (Where-the-Wind-Blows Party)? I certainly hope not.

I hope at 42 I'm wise enough to make up my mind and stick with it. But who knows? Given my track record, I wouldn't bet on myself. Still, I'm going to take a stand once again and declare that I am and always will be in favor of a secular democratic republic. If I change my mind again, please shoot me. There should be a limit on how often a brain changes directions.

The first few pages of this photo essay are snapshots of ads that aired before the Barbara Walters interview with Farah. The images are unedited, so if some look funny it's the camera's fault. Bon voyage! >>> See photo essay

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By Jahanshah Javid




Book of the day

An Enduring Love
My life with the Shah: A memoir
By Farah Pahlavi

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