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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 21, 2009 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT

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successor to ayatollah khomeini who is the real power, all right? and when you hear something about mahmoud ahmadinejad says and he will say some things that sound pretty lobito as i think we need to remember he's not talking to us, he is what we would call shoring up his political base and it's very interesting to me. q1 by about 51% and if we were less easy to demonize, they would have a four more moderate president right now. he's up for reelection again. the only way he is going to win is if we are easy to demonize. i assure the encouragement and miers' helping him in the same way that if there had been a terrorist attack for months ago we would have a different president today. wouldn't you imagine? it is just human nature for people when they are threatened and fearful to go to the hard-liner, and he is a hard
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liner. .. look for more weeklian and it was very fun to get eye contact.
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it was called eye fishing. i would go out and do some eye fishing because it takes them a while to shoot this stuff. i get eye contact with somebody and they'd say hello and they'd always say where are you from? and i had a personal little game. i would never tell them. i'd say where do you think. they would never, ever -- i can't remember guess the united states. finally, i said united states. and they'd go, united states? what are you doing here and then they would say welcome. it was the amazing thing. we'd go in shops across the street from the shot -- from the mural and there was a bookstore. and gorgeous books. they will really into poetry and then we had to go and i said thank you and the lady who was
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the book sales person said, here, take one as a gift. i'm sure kepler's does it and barnes & noble does it. i was blown away the friendliness. later on in the day there was a traffic jam. i'm just hanging out in the backseat of my car. the car next to us motioned to rolled down the window and he passed over a bouquet of flowers. give this to your foreign guest and apologized for our traffic. that just doesn't happen here in the bay area. [laughter] >> so, you know, it's an odd -- it's a very odd perplexing thing. you got hateful murals and you have bouquets who don't know you. it's wild. later on i was in traffic and out of the blue my driver just
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blurted out, death to traffic. [laughter] >> i almost had whiplash. what? [laughter] >> i thought it was death to america. well, no in iran anytime is really frustrating us it's out of our control, we say death to that. and i go, whoa. not to belittle the terribleness of saying death to america, death to israel but this gives it a little different dimension to the average american who would condemn iran and its people based on that slogan they keep hearing. i thought about it for a while and i just thought, you know, it's kind of like damn those teenagers some of us have said something like that. now, did you really want them to die and burn in hell for an eternity. it's midnight.
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turn down the music. i was fascinated to that. death to traffic. all right. cute kids. just adorable people on the streets you meet when you travel. everywhere i was impressed by the family values and the love of parents mothers and daughters and sons and fathers. they are struggling and they don't want to get out of bed and hate america. they want to raise their kids but they are very threatened because they're afraid of western values. a lot of people are concerned about the people of women in iran, understandably so. you go over and you see in the subway system. they've got a great subway system and there's cars that say women only. blacks in the back of the bus or
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something. that's just not right and then i went in the subway well, here's the men's car and there's women in the men's car and asked a woman about it she said no, the woman only car is just an option for us. we're free to go anywhere we want but we like to have a car that's just for women. then she said perhaps in new york they would appreciate a car just for them. i never thought about it that way. a lot of americans are so predisposed this other society that they don't understand well, the men worship there. the women are stuck in the back as if that's never happened in christianity or synagogues. i think different societies are on different tracks as they reform and evolve and become more modern, you know, and we've all been there. maybe we're a little farther along that evolutionary track in our culture and our religion, whatever. on the other hand, when you think about the women's position in iran, more women are going to the greatest universities than
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men. women outnumber men in the great professions. men dominate the military and the political world like they do in our society. when you think of going to church or mosque it's a very physical thing to pray in a mosque. half the time your butt is sticking up in the air. you stand up you bend down and you stick your butt up in the hair. i liken it to jazzercise on saturday morning. if i'm in the back row, i cannot think of god. [laughter] >> there's too many beautiful butts in the air. and that's maybe a crass way to put it. muslims don't want men looking at that woman doing the physical act of praying and the women doesn't want to think there are crude guys looking at her.
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it's reasonable to have women in a separate place in that society. women in iran cannot go to the soccer stadium because they don't want women to hear the "f" word. they can go to field events and bad minton and volleyball. you may say that's evil. they say that's respectful, you know, who are we to go in there and condemn them? this is our way and this is their way. we need to give them a little benefit of a doubt.3u i love looking at people. i'm a great people watcher. i like looking at men and women. more women than men but i'll look -- i just find people good-looking and in iran, people are out looking good, men and women. according to their modesty regulations and so on and their respect for women, women -- you don't find girly magazines, you don't find women -- in america, a sexy girl stands on a platform to sell a car at a car show.
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is that something we're proud of? well, some of us are and some of us aren't. america is really pissed off sandinistas 'cause they refuse to let women takele degradation. there's a lot of these revolutionary societies that have an idea for women. iranians have their own idea for women. they don't want them used as sex toys or advertising pieces? on the streets of iran you see women talking good. they can't show the shape of their body. and they're not to show any hair. what they can show they make look really good. and it was fascinating to me to realize after a while as a man you have sort of an animal evolution at what you look at. 'cause you stop looking for a neckline 'cause there never is one. and you start getting really excited about just a little bit
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of hair coming out of here. [laughter] >> i couldn't believe how easy it was for me to get excited about a little hair on a forehead. so -- i mean, the women are beautiful, the fingers, that's a little bit naughty to have that more sexy. more nose jobs than any other country in the planet because what you want to show you want to look good. these are rich women who are dressed technically okay but obviously it's not holding them back. they are cosmopolitan and they can flaunt it. if you have money you can go to enslaves. as a tourist i thought the government squashed any hedonism and sex but if you've got money you can call out for drugs and sex any way you like it anytime
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and it comes to your house. women can be an ad in victoria's secret but outside on the street they need to be respectful. first off film crews go to the american embassy. and the iranians are happy to show it to us. they don't apologize for it. i kept seeing young people thinking it's white noise it's propaganda and they would turn on pop stuff in the west. they must have some way to blot out all this propaganda from the government and it's certainly there and it's the evil talons gripping the world and this is what is part of their propaganda tomb. on the streets i found people were really, really welcoming to us. we went to a little village and the villagers -- the big city
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iranian tourists were complaining the villages were more friendly to the americans than to the actual iranians that were visiting. they would let us take their picture and not the people from the big city of iran who came to see the famous little village. this is the rich girl from tehran who had to take a picture of me because she couldn't take a picture of the villagers. [laughter] >> now, when i'm working i'm just so energized by what i'm doing how how many people will see it. i'd get more good pictures. it was great and after a week he said, mr. rick, when you make this with your thumb it's like if i was to give you the finger, okay? [laughter] >> quirky insights when you go to different countries you never learn about. there's not a urinal in the entire country and i had a personal quest. i wanted to find a urinal it's
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not right for men to me standing up. it's a completely dry country. you can't buy a beer anywhere. there's booze behind secretly just like we would have our speakeasies. but in public no beer at all. you got budweiser men that drink cans of beer that looks like beer and tastes like beer and makes them feel like they are drinking beer but it's nonalcoholic. it's a cash society. international banking won't work. your credit card is useless there. you got to bring in cash for your whole experience. when you travel around you find there's plenty of business. this is like an eight story tall circuit city or something that's still in business and it's just selling all sorts of, you know, computers and high-fi gear and everything there's no american stores there. not much american gear. lots of western tourists in iran. in a lot of ways iran is like a
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cuban cigar. it's a big deal for us. but for everybody else it's just another cigar. the lonely planet came out and we used it and every tourist it has. americans have a tough time to go there. we need to have an escort to go iran. you can go there and take a tour unless you're visiting relatives that's my understanding. different number system. ir iran islamic republic of iran. the shah used to be on one money. now khomeini is on the money. 10,000 rials on the dollar. lots of zeros when you're paying your hotel bill, that's for sure. in my work in europe i'm when he will known to find untouristy places. if you're traveling in iran i wanted to find touristy places. this is a good touristy restaurant. [laughter]
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>> thank goodness there's a touristy restaurant. what a glorious society. my heart was stolen there. excuse me a sec. the greatest square is the amoms square for khomeini. a great mosque architecture. wonderful bazaar. if you've been to the grand bazaar this is much better. this is for local people. and an issue for me was religious freedom as i mentioned i'm really curious about freedom. i'm passionate about freedom and i don't like it when people don't have political freedom or
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religious freedom and in iran i wanted to hear what was going on. i said is it really free? can a jew or a christian like run a business? run for office or whatever? and he said yeah, it's free. what's the deal. you're free religiously as long as your religious is not blast famisto mohammed and mohammed said explicitly i am the last prophet. they worship prophet it is before that. mohammed was seventh century. now, we've all -- if we have friends in american they are iranian they are probably that time and in good with the shah and had to leave in '79. if you had an impression with the country that left that
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country who was particularly at odds with the government that we're having trouble with. you got to remember that when you're talking to formally shah-friendly guests. they had a bad problem with the system. in iran, you just can't worship them. they are not going to kill if they worship over the border. i think it's crummy but we don't have any right to go in there and change it. get out of iran. or don't worship in public. it's happened in other countries. i asked the guy if you're a christian or a jew can you actually get anywhere in the military in the government. you can't get any position of power in the military government. you got to be a muslim practicing shiite muslim? yes. religious freedom unless you not part of mohammed. do we have a tyranny of the
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majority of the hundreds well, i don't know, but imagine a muslim trying to run for president. imagine even a christian trying run for position with a name that might sound muslim. [laughter] >> i mean, we're so quick to -- what do you call it, condemn them and then we're so quick to vote for a guy if he isn't our religion here. it's bizarre to me. it really is. you and i are hipper than that but the average american. i wanted to go to a prayer service and i was struck by -- in iran how unreligious the place felt except for all the dictated stuff and i'm really into that because i'm into the separation of church and state and those opposed to that want prayer in school and they want the ten commandments in the city hall and they want to legislate morality and they are good people and they care about you and they care about your salvation and they wish
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everybody could go to heaven, you see. and there's other people that are fundamentalist about their religions that are motivated by the same care, i think. and when you go to iran, they have violated the separation of mosque and state. so they got prayer in school. all the girls dress like nuns. on the morality is legislated. that's immoral. it is illegal. i'm thankful a crime and a sin are two different things in our society, aren't you? it's nice to be able to do a crime without sinning. [laughter] >> and i analyzed iran and turkey 'cause here's two good test cases. iran 30 years theocracy. you got to be a muslim or whatever. in turkey, 1920s, they were required separation of mosque and state. one of their primary responsibilities is to overthrow its government if ever it becomes a theocracy and it's happened several times. and what is ironic to me is that
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i found a better sort of stronger fabric spiritually in the society in turkey than i did in iran because religious faith is an organic thing and can't be dictated from the top down and i think the more people aren't inclined to embrace it. i would say if you're inclined to violate the separation of church and state, you would be better of having a healthy environment where people can choose to be religious and that's what we treasure here in the united states and that's what could happen in islam. we went to this church service, wow, to stand there with our camera looking at thousands of muslims worshipping was quite a powerful experience for me as a tv producer it was clear to me -- i had the choice here i could edit it in a menace than way. cut in a few guerillas jump over barbed ward and jihadist music and i got one scary video. or i could edit it in a way that makes people think of -- if they
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go to church their church on sunday morning. i kept looking out at that crowd thinking there's a lot about this that's a lot like my church service, passing of the peace or because -- you know, sermon, too long. [laughter] >> bowing down, responsive readings, people's cell phones going off. oh, shoot i should have turned that off. antsy children pulling on their dad's finger i want to go. let's get out of here. guys' minds wandering catching my eye and we're just kind of connecting that way. afterwards everybody ends up and shakes hands of the pastor or the priest or the amom, nice job a little shorter next week. and after church you have the cookies and seeing grandma aren't they getting big. same thing. multi generational thing. the pastor is there. it's a beautiful, neighborhood
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happiness. we don't see much of. and when we saw it, we saw it. the difference is, they got soldiers standing around and you don't see them until everybody bows down and a very menacing sign that says death to israel. why do you have to do that i asked the amom well, that's part of the whole poignant situation here. i just don't know how much people take that to heart. but this is the amom and he was so happy that we were there and he wanted to talk to us and he said why don't you get our president bush to come to our service and we'll get mahmoud ahmadinejad to go to one of yours. [laughter] >> here's a dad all dressed up with his kids taking their photograph. it's the same thing that happens here. a lot of times i'm out just doing my work working on the script taking notes, doing my writing, trying to get some peace and quiet as my crew is working. and i can't get any privacy. i look up and i got these guys staring at me. [laughter] >> and it's we're interesting. we're confusing to these people because they've had a lot of
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propaganda and they've heard a lot of different things. i love it when all the girls are out on the field trip and i get the whole class together. right now i can hear the school teacher, girls, there's a western man taking your photograph. you look like a bunch of floozies cover your hair. and they get all settled up and then they're ready. and then you get the shot. and when i saw those girls, i spent a decade with our daughter, with all of her friends gathered like that and you take off those scarves and they're the same feisty fun loving adorable deserving kids, you know? it's a beautiful thing. anywhere you go. you come home with that souvenir. look at the body language, the smirks. the one in the middle is a handful for their teacher, that sort of thing. how do you solve a problem like maria. [laughter] >> they have this incredible 5-mile long park on either side of the river.
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everybody is out with their bun sixteen burners. they can't afford a restaurant and they are out this with their blankets and picnic. kids are getting some ice cream. that modesty thing is far reaching. mannequins have to be covered. even square crows have to be covered. [laughter] >> powerful, powerful experience when you go to iran is to see the scarves left by their war in iraq. what have we lost, 4,000 people. they've lost 250,000 deaths, casualties. oh, man, every city has got a sprawling, heartbreaking martyr cemetery and you go there especially when the wind is blowing the flags are flapping which makes it all the more poignant, god and country, you know, god and country. every country tells its soldiers they're dying for god and country. and and you see the loved ones there. you see the faces.
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and you see a mother sitting on the tomb of her boy as she has every week since the 1980s. i don't care who he was fighting for, which is tragic. this is really heartbreaking. these mothers are sitting of on tombs of unknown soldiers. lots to put in our script and it was a fun process for me. for more information on all this stuff, if you go to my website, it's mostly promoting all my europe work, obviously, but i've got a whole section on iran. it's been such a joy and a challenge as a travel writer to bring this sort of unwelcomed insight into our consciousness and then people appreciate it when they are introduced to it thoughtfully but i got this slide show and trailers for our documentary. a lot of articles and so on. if you're curious about that, there's a lot more details at
6:26 pm our last stop was here. i figured it was the greatest ancient site between the mediterranean and india. it had high -- i had high expectations and it's one of those places that exceeded them. and when you go there you got to remember 500 years before christ, these were the guys that looted and burned athens, right and this was the home of the first shah, the shah of iran we know celebrated his 2,500 year of the shah in 1970s with that party where onassis flew in and so on and this is where you see a lot of tourists and what i was struck by you see a lot of iranians. because they come here to connect with their roots. it's a cultural pilgrimage to go there and remind themselves what an important and powerful and proud culture they are. that goes back 700 years before mohammed. that's in their dna more than islam, i think.
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these are not arabs. they're quick to tell you, we're not arabs. you westerners think we're arabs because we're muslims and most arabs are muslims but we are persians. we speak farsi. it's not the gulf of arabia, it's the persian gulf. get it straight. [applause] >> and, you know, one thought i had is i just -- i do not want to radicalize these people. these people are as good as they come when it comes to what they aspire for their children and so on. they happen to have different religion and culture than we do, but it was clear to me all of these people who are teachers and crafts people and mothers and you name it, they could be guerillas tomorrow if we were naive enough to think we could shock and awe them into compliance. that's the one message i could take home this they say we are proud. we're united and you're not
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going to write our textbooks. this is an important issue. they've got a chip on their shoulder. they got a lot of baggage we couldn't even imagine. and it was so great to be able to be there for a couple of weeks to gather up all that footage to get through it with all our gear and fly home and make this show and be able to come back and remind the united states that it is exciting to be entering a new age where we grapple more thoughtfully and respectfully with the other 96% of humanity. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. thank you. nice to be here. thanks. thanks. so i guess now we have the q & a time.
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i don't know if this is the standard here but before the q & a i know there are some iranians here. i know to hear it pronounced wrong. forgive my simplistic things. are there any iranians here that could stand up and give a very brief thought about anything i got wrong or something you want to stress tonight? is there anything that needs to be straightened out? good. okay. i assume i'll do it right. thank you. [applause] >> salom. >> thank you. >> you're now an honorary iranian citizen. >> i know. >> this means that look around this audience any iranian face you see, you can go to any of our faces you can go to our house. we'll feed you. >> thank you. >> and thank you for showing the human side of


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