In 1976, during a "gap year" of wandering between college and the rest of life, happenstance took me to Tehran during the twilight of Shah Reza Pahlavi. The city felt divided: the affluent in the north, the impoverished sullen in the south. News stories of night raids against criminals who died during police actions were common. The internationals in the hostel translated for my naivete: opposition was being exterminated.
One bright afternoon the streets in the south cleared instantly at the far-off sounds of sirens. I took the cue and rushed with the crowd into an alley. After an eerie stillness the motorcade roared through and I glimpsed Pahlavi and his beautiful wife Princess Farah like wax statues in the limousine. (Decoys?) I thought, "What a situation to be so fearful and isolated."
The traffic restrictions and rolling road closures announced to safeguard the G-20 participants expose the kind of fear the poor shah endured. And what a juxtaposition, the fear of a tyrant, and of our free brave democracy ... Oh, but wait, I have it wrong -- our free brave democracy supported the shah -- now I'm all confused. What kind of governments are afraid?
EMILY DE FERRARI