The Accidental Extremist
There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Trip….

Rocked at the Casbah [Dangerous Liasons]
Wednesday October 14th 2009, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Road Warriors

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Here’s the 2nd of three tales from Greg Dobbs, an Emmy-winning producer and correspondent for 23 years with ABC, taken from his new book, Life in the Wrong Lane - Why Journalists Go In When Everyone Else Wants Out.

[From the chapter CHAMPAGNE FROM A STYROFOAM CUP, on covering the revolution in Iran]

The Ayatollah’s aides—the president destined to be exiled, the foreign minister destined to be executed—had promised me an interview with Khomeini. So I went with a crew and a translator—Behray Taidi, an out of work English-speaking Iranian TV cameraman whom we had hired to work with us—to the elementary school in Tehran that had been Khomeini’s headquarters since he returned in triumph.

The schoolyard, surrounded by a chain link fence, was packed with people. Khomeini’s entourage had announced that he would hold a public audience. What that meant was, he’d stand at a window and weakly wave his hand at the masses.

We pushed our way in. The pictures would be great.

Bad decision. Once we were in, we couldn’t get back out. And with more people pushing in, neither could anyone else. It wasn’t like squeezing ten pounds into a five-pound bag. It was like squeezing a hundred pounds into the bag.

By the time we were near the Ayatollah, we couldn’t move. Not under our own power anyway. The crush was so tight that we, like everyone else, got picked up and carried by the human tide. If your arm was down at your side, you couldn’t lift it. If it was up in the air, you couldn’t bring it down.

Behray had a Rolex wristwatch. It came off. There was nothing he could do. To try to reach for it on the ground would have doomed him to death by crushing. Several people did die that day in the schoolyard.

Ironically, we have the Ayatollah himself to thank for our lives. Standing at the corner window, weakly waving his hand at his subjects who were pinned in too tight to wave back, he saw us in the crush and signaled to his aides. They nudged Khomeini away from the window and reached out for us, pulling us one by one across the windowsill and into the room. Ayatollah Khomeini. What a guy. —Greg Dobbs

To buy Dobbs’ new book, ‘LIFE IN THE WRONG LANE’ (iUniverse), click here.


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