On February 11, 1979 the Shah of Iran was deposed. On that day the Ayatollah Khomeini and his Islamic cleric dominated Revolutionary Council gained control of Iran. Five days later, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University, who had recently visited the Ayatollah in France. I copy an extract from that article below.
New York Times, February 16, 1979, p. A27.
….[Ayatollah Khomeini’s] political style is to express his real views defiantly and without apology, regardless of consequences. He has little incentive suddenly to become devious for the sake of American public opinion. Thus, the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false….
Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country. If this is true, then indeed the exotic Ayatollah may yet convince the world that “politics is the opiate of the people.”
Less than nine months after this article was published, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized by Iranian militants and, in an act approved by the Ayatollah, over fifty hostages were held captive for over a year.