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"The name of the photographer cannot be revealed at this time."
December 5, 2006 6:12 AM   Subscribe

"'Who has this picture?' he asked, his voice rising. 'Nobody.'" He won a Pulitzer in 1980 for "Spot News Photography" , but didn't, or couldn't, take credit. (via [1] [2] [3])
posted by bardic (25 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I heard about this on the NPR over the weekend. Amazing story. The WSJ reporter said he'd be checking up on Mr Razmi daily. I hope the result of coming forward is positive for him.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:31 AM on December 5, 2006


Is there a full sized copy of that image anywhere? Or was it grainy from the start?
posted by delmoi at 7:10 AM on December 5, 2006


What an amazing story.
posted by chunking express at 7:14 AM on December 5, 2006


The NPR story has a 600x300 jpg, which is bigger than the other articles above, I think.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:29 AM on December 5, 2006


Thanks Alarmed. The 'big' version on the WSJ is of worse quality than the thumbnail. Gah.
posted by beerbajay at 7:45 AM on December 5, 2006


Great story. Thanks.
posted by sacre_bleu at 8:05 AM on December 5, 2006


I find it hard to separate the WSJ's printing of this story now from the international political context. It seems to feed rather neatly into the campaign being waged in the US to get people worried about the regime in Tehran.

Two interesting quotes from the article seem to indicate the political proclivities of the article. The first one from the writer, Prager:
"Governed by the Shah, the nation was at peace."

An interesting, statement, possibly factual at the moment in time he's discussing. But connecting the Shah's whole period of rule to 'a nation at peace,' which is what the sentence implies, is of course rather obviously bullshit. The coup against Mossadegh being the obvious example.

The second quote, from the editor of the paper the Khomeini government nationalized:
"Under Khomeini they would try to kill you. It was a different ballgame." The opposition under the Shah experienced pretty much the same ballgame.
posted by jackbrown at 8:18 AM on December 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Interesting that he has finally identified himself.

Another photographer has recently come forward, a small plane pilot who happened to be flying near the WTC on 9/11. When he landed in NJ he hid his camera so that no one would know that he was taking pictures. These pictures were apparently just released publically.
posted by caddis at 8:44 AM on December 5, 2006


Why did he hide his camera? Everyone else was taking pictures, what's a few more?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:57 AM on December 5, 2006


I thought the same thing jackbrown when I read that line.
posted by chunking express at 8:58 AM on December 5, 2006


Fascinating story.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:23 AM on December 5, 2006


Excellent point, jackbrown. And the fact that they would look back 27 years for a "peaceful" period in Iran's history and not look back just a couple decades further for the root of the problems to come reveals a cultural myopia of the worst sort.
posted by rkent at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2006


From caddis's link: "Here is a shocking story of Russian pilot, now living in the USA who was on the air 9th September 2001 and have made photos right from the air when planes crashed the WTC."

What kind of plane was he flying? I want to buy one, it can stay in the air for two full days!
posted by Plutor at 9:44 AM on December 5, 2006


rkent and jackbrown:

From wikipedia:
In planning the operation, the CIA organized a guerrilla force in case the communist Tudeh Party seized power as a result of the chaos created by Operation Ajax.

Could this be what is happening in Iraq? A CIA/military-organized guerrilla force to combat the other guerrilla forces while everyone assumes we are only supporting the official Iraqi police force?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:53 AM on December 5, 2006


An interesting, statement, possibly factual at the moment in time he's discussing. But connecting the Shah's whole period of rule to 'a nation at peace,' which is what the sentence implies, is of course rather obviously bullshit. The coup against Mossadegh being the obvious example

You are aware that the coup was over a quarter of a century earlier, right? And that it wasn't anything like a "war"? I don't like the shah any better than you do, but the country was in fact at peace in those days and had been for a long time, and within a few years it would be involved in one of the worst wars of the twentieth century, one that lasted eight years and cost 1 million casualties and $1.19 trillion. Is it really that hard to understand that many Iranians look back to prerevolutionary times with less than total outrage, just as they did to tsarist times in Russia after the Bolshevik coup, terror, and dictatorship? But by all means sit in your easy chair and snipe; I know how much fun it can be.

Great post, bardic—thanks.
posted by languagehat at 11:25 AM on December 5, 2006


A story about the only anonymous Pulitzer in history is a mystery worth reading. Divining anti-Iranian agitation intent into the story is an iffy proposition at best.

Who made this story happen? The guy who pulled the trigger on this story was the photog. He lives in Iran. To the extent that his decades-old pictures make the Iranian government look bad, he's the guy who's going to pay the freight. He decided to take credit for a remarkable piece of journalism others have wrongly claimed, which takes all sorts of balls.

The reporter might have described Iranian history in a flawed way in a sentence or two, but that shouldn't detract from Mr Razmi's day in the sun.
posted by sacre_bleu at 11:55 AM on December 5, 2006


Great post, bardic—thanks.

Second the motion.
posted by The God Complex at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2006


languagehat--the period he was talking about when the kid was growing up was the early 60s. The coup was in 1953. And there was fairly constant anti-regime violence throughout the Shah's later reign, I think.
posted by jackbrown at 3:16 PM on December 5, 2006


Could this be what is happening in Iraq? A CIA/military-organized guerrilla force to combat the other guerrilla forces while everyone assumes we are only supporting the official Iraqi police force?

You're suggesting a level of competence that the Federal Government hasn't displayed recently.
posted by Slothrup at 3:21 PM on December 5, 2006


By the way, I'm no fan of the government they ended up with in Iran. I just think the idea of trying to repaint the awful period of Reza Pahlavi's rule as something pleasant for anyone but a select few is absurd.

There's a reason Iran had one of the only true mass revolutions of the 20th century, one which was supported by the whole spectrum of society from Marxist intellectuals to middle class businessmen to peasants to the traditionally conservative religious scholars. Even if the mullahs ended up taking it over and shooting everybody else, which they did.
posted by jackbrown at 3:22 PM on December 5, 2006


Good post, thanks.
posted by mrbula at 5:05 PM on December 5, 2006


Note that Joshua Prager is the nephew of nutjob right-wing talker Dennis Prager.

I was going to say much what languagehat did, but I hesitated because jackbrown did say An interesting, statement, possibly factual at the moment in time he's discussing.

Obviously the WSJ was glossing over a few major points regarding why the revolution came to be. On the other hand, the mullahs didn't "take over" the revolution -- the religious objections to the Shah were a primary motivating factor in the revolution from the beginning.
posted by dhartung at 6:57 PM on December 5, 2006


I take jackbrown's points to heart. I was skeptical about the WSJ being objective about anything Iranian, but I think the article is both well-written and well-researched. The Prager connection definitely put me on my guard, however.

Will wingnuts look at this story and think, "Ah, more proof that Iran=Hitler"? Probably. And that's sad. But I think the story speaks for itself.

As for "life under the Shah," it's an important debate. IMO, violent mass revolutions occur when people are shat upon for decades (cf. Khmer Rouge). Are people better off under their new masters? No. But to try and understand where the rage and anger comes from is not to condone the behavior.

And as a bit of an aside, I read All the Shaw's Men (re: the American overthrow of an elected Iranian government in 1953) based on a mefi recommendation. Knowing so little about Iran myself at the time, I'd consider it a great place to start.
posted by bardic at 7:11 PM on December 5, 2006


Hehe. All the Shah's Men, of course. Long day.
posted by bardic at 7:14 PM on December 5, 2006


The brilliance of the photo, (or perhaps because it has been a long day for me) is that I had no idea why those men were falling, when I saw the photo. Seemed like a badly developed negative to me, initially. Only on reading the article did I realize that they were, in fact, dying.

And that, still gives me the shivers.
posted by the cydonian at 4:21 AM on December 6, 2006


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