A morning start on Friday didn’t stop people flocking to see Jon Snow, whose talk on Iran, the US and current affairs proved to be one of the York Union’s best events so far. The Channel 4 News presenter and ITN journalist was both charismatic and friendly, offering quirky and interesting anecdotes and his thoughts on a wide array of questions from the audience.
Beginning by describing his aspiration to become a Conservative MP (“It’s all been a bit of a flop”), Snow then went on to talk about his experiences during the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the American embassy takeover, drawing broad connections with US power and journalism. Snow described how the Shah had allowed Iran to become a “bunkering port” for America’s interests in the region, recounting how he and his team discovered a listening post used to watch Russian atomic bomb tests across the Caspian Sea.
But as politically intriguing as his story was, it was the light, informative touches, from giving tea to revolutionary guards and squabbling with a military attaché, that gave true insight into the revolution and made this event memorable. As Snow said, the legacy of the revolution showed how America was humiliated in a way that it wouldn’t suffer again until 9/11. America responded to the Islamic Revolution by effectively saying it hadn’t happened, and it was this point that Snow highlighted as crucial: we simply avoid talking about Iran. The ability of Western politicians to isolate such a country in a complex and interconnected region has had disastrous consequences.
Snow’s passion for Iran shined through. Following his talk was a lengthy Q&A in which Snow was willing to discuss anything, ranging from censorship in journalism to the question of an endgame in Syria. His rustication from the University of Liverpool for his involvement in an anti-apartheid student protest was brought up, as well as more general discussions such as the influence that Britain holds in global affairs today.
Perhaps this talk was one of the less controversial or argumentative events that the York Union has hold, but it was certainly one of the most insightful. Jon Snow was friendly and genuinely willing to answer as many questions as possible, which made the event a success.