Cruel Summer

September 14, 1978 — The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Mossadegh Project | September 5, 2018                    


A few weeks after this editorial was printed in a leading Pennsylvania newspaper, the ailing Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, fled Iran for Egypt, never to return...

No Tears For The Shah

There is no longer any doubt that the Shah of Iran has broader divisions to straddle in his nation than just about any leader in the world at the moment. The Shah’s effort to retain his grip on the nation after a summer of political siege has culminated in several recent violent tragedies, and these have cast into doubt the monarchy’s first tentative steps toward political moderation and a state of civil liberty.

The greatest of these tragedies occurred last month during the holy season of Ramadan, when fanatic adherents of a fundamentalist religious sect incinerated some 422 people inside a motion picture theater in Abadan. [Cinema Rex arson on August 19th] The irrationality of such political sets has tended to persuade outside observers that the Shah’s notoriously brutal methods of holding onto power can be justified now in retrospect. This rationale holds that, directed at both the left and the right, the Shah’s repressive measures have kept the clamp on his country in the name of progress.

This logic fails, however, to take into account the despicable character of the government’s own history of brutality in attempting to put down the demonstrations against the Shah’s policies. Last week, his soldiers fired machine guns into a crowd of demonstrators and killed 86 persons. Their deaths were another grim addition to the estimated 1,100 persons killed during anti-government protests so far this year.

What the Shah lacks most conspicuously is a broad constituency for the technological progress which he is introducing so rapidly to the former Persian Empire. Those partaking of Iran’s petroleum bounty enjoy the luxury by paying at least the allegiance of silence to the Shah. But anyone who actively dissents has been the object of the Shah’s active persecution ever since he has been on the throne. And a strong case can be made for the proposition that this autocracy has only made more virulent the political passions now welling up in Iran. In the aftermath of the Abadan tragedy and the civil riots it is true that the Shah has divisions of cavernous nature to bridge if Iran is to become a truly stable nation. But, to a degree that must not be forgotten, the Shah has contributed greatly to many of those divisions which are now so apparent.

"Iranian troops, in American gasmasks so new that one still bears its label, moving into action against rioters in Teheran." — Associated Press photo, Dec. 1978

Shah Of Iran Spells Good News For United States (1967 column)
Shah Of Iran Spells Good News For U.S. | Holmes Alexander (Oct. 1967)


Related links:

Iran Doesn’t Need Stockpile of Arms | The Charleston Gazette, August 4, 1976

No Pity for Mossadegh | The Lethbridge Herald, September 24, 1953

Rex Cinema Fire: ‘People are burning! Please help them!’ (Sept. 19, 1978 letter)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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