The Grey Lady reports on the Egyptian demonstrators’ assault on Laura Logan in Tahrir Square last month and the issue of both violence against women and against journalists in the Middle East (except, of course, Israel, which despite being better by far on these issues, is somehow viewed as worse). Logan shows great courage in discussing these matters, even if she reveals an amazing naivete. (HT: NBH)
There are huge areas of violence and intimidation against journalists that are not reported. We didn’t hear for months that NYT reporter David Rhode had been kidnapped in Afghanistan; and we don’t have any idea how often reporters are abducted in places like Iraq, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, etc., for a few hours and then released, thoroughly intimidated (including about speaking about what happened) into the mainstream pool to then report back to us about “what’s going on.”
… Little research has been conducted about the prevalence of sexual violence affecting journalists in conflict zones. But in the weeks following Ms. Logan’s assault, other women recounted being harassed and assaulted while working overseas, and groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists said they would revise th eir handbooks to better address sexual assault.
This is the tip of the iceberg of violence and threats of violence against journalists in the Middle East. Maybe because it intersects with gender issues it will get more attention.
Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” said that the segment about the assault on Ms. Logan would raise awareness of the issue. “There’s a code of silence about it that I think is in Lara’s interest and in our interest to break,” he said.
That would be omertà. something that’s very hard to break, but well worth tackling for the sake of an honest news media.
… She declined to go into more detail about the assault but said: “What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.”
If this were not the words of a woman who had been mercilessly manhandled (not personhandled), this might strike some neo-progs as racist and dehumanizing. My students regularly mistake human and humane, as in, “I prefer Browning’s account of the Nazi genocide to Goldhagen’s, because Browning doesn’t dehumanize the Germans.” Somehow, they forget that sadism is a peculiarly human trait.
… While Ms. Logan, CBS’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, said she would definitely return to Afghanistan and other conflict zones, she said she had decided — for the moment — not to report from the Middle Eastern countries where protests were widespread. “The very nature of what we do — communicating information — is what’s undoing these regimes,” she said. “It makes us the enemy, whether we like it or not.”
Indeed, any time your report the truth from the Middle East, you are the enemy, whether you like it or not. And there’s no loyalty involved. The protesters may like you because the truth happens to favor their side, but once the truth is inimicable to their side, any reporter who insists on being loyal to his or her audience in the free world (i.e., who insists on reporting the truth), becomes an enemy.
Before the assault, Ms. Logan said, she did not know about the levels of harassment and abuse that women in Egypt and other countries regularly experienced. “I would have paid more attention to it if I had had any sense of it,” she said.
This statement testifies to one of two things (or both). Either she has not been paying attention, or there’s a pattern of omertà in journalistic milieux that systematically understates these issues. My guess is, it participates in a larger pattern of refusal to recognize these issues, which reflects a self-censoring political correctness and a fear of being called racist. The feminist version of Human Rights Complex.
“When women are harassed and subjected to this in society, they’re denied an equal place in that society. Public spaces don’t belong to them. Men control it. It reaffirms the oppressive role of men in the society.”
Logan writes this as if the norm is equal rights and the Egyptians are violating it, rather than that the norm is unequal rights – especially in public places - and the West has violated it by inaugurating an unprecedented, precious, and vulnerable time of equal rights. The Westerner takes his or her free condition as the norm and shows surprise when it’s not true everywhere. Omertà has an ally in liberal cognitive egocentrism.
Notes my correspondent, Noa Ben Harav:
If she was sent there without explicit briefings about this kind of activity then the news agencies are really failing. They are even deluding themselves that this is not ‘insider information.’ Obviously reporters are not doing their job if this is something that they are unaware of. Even my guide book told me about harassment in Muslim countries like Turkey and Morocco. I’m not blaming her, obviously. But how could the community of journalists be so remiss as to ignore the state of affairs, talk in grandiose terms about gender equality during the revolution and send their people in unprepared and unguarded to a situation like this?
One possible answer is that the journalists were so swept up with Arab Spring Fever that they thought the normal rules of engagement had been suspended, and people in Tahrir Square would be every bit as respectful as, say, the million people Promise-Keeper march on Washington (1997).
Read the whole article.