Wednesday, February 16, 2011
On Sunday, I wrote about how I’ve learned to save my wrath for real-life sexist outrages instead of getting agitated over songs and movies. I’m devastated that an example of the former has come to light so soon. CBS reported that its foreign correspondent Lara Logan “was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating” in Egypt while covering the reaction to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. (Some reports say that she was raped; others say the assault didn’t include rape.)
Compounding the horror inflicted on Logan are the vile blame-the-victim responses to her attack. Nir Rosen, a journalist and fellow at New York University’s Center on Law and Security, Tweeted, “jesus christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger.” Then, in his initial “apology,” he accused her of being an attention whore: “ah fuck it, i apologize for being insensitive, its always wrong, thats obvious, but i’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get.” Appropriately, he resigned his fellowship in shame. Maybe the name “Nir Rosen” will be to Twitter what “Dooce” is to blogs — a reminder that online activities have real-life consequences.
Meanwhile, as Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon wrote, “it took all of minutes” before somebody made the story about Logan’s appearance. Simone Wilson of LA Weekly called Logan “the blonde reporter” and referred to Logan’s “shocking good looks” and “Hollywood good looks,” as if women of all shapes, sizes, colors, races and ages aren’t assaulted on a regular basis. Wilson’s post-hate-mail clarification — “Just so we’re clear: Rape is awful. Logan’s rape was not her fault” — belatedly stated the obvious. And Debbie Schlussel wrote, “How fitting that Lara Logan was ‘liberated’ by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the ‘liberation.’ Hope you’re enjoying the revolution, Lara! Alhamdilllullah [praise allah].” Schlussel’s “apology” reiterates her initial stance: “Now she [Lara] knows what Islamic revolution is really all about.”
Those sentiments hardly compare to the poison spewed by commenters on the articles mentioned above and other editorials and news stories. Just like I said on Sunday, “… I’ve learned that famous entertainers are easily beaten in the offensiveness race every single day by the ordinary online commenter.”
Personally, I think the only appropriate response to Logan’s attack is the one that my husband, MrB, gave on behalf of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ):
“We have seen Lara’s compassion at work while helping journalists who have faced brutal aggression while doing their jobs. She is a brilliant, courageous, and committed reporter. Our thoughts are with Lara as she recovers.”
UPDATED TO ADD: CPJ’s comments on documenting sexual violence against journalists are here.
UPDATED AGAIN TO ADD: Nir Rosen has blown my mind by making things worse with this attempt at an apology/explanation. According to him, the point he was trying to make was:
“Had Logan been a non-white, non-famous journalist, this story would have never made it to the news. Ahmed Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist, was killed in cold blood and nobody ever heard of him. Dozens of other women were harassed and nobody will ever know their names. … Countless women (Egyptian and foreign, journalists and others) have reported being harassed and assaulted in Tahrir Square that Friday, mostly, it seems, by non-revolutionaries. (This harassment was a preexisting problem that Egyptian women have been increasingly complaining about.) So why all the focus on Logan? The U.S. media did not care when Egyptian journalists (or any other Egyptian) were being jailed. Only when pretty white people showed up did Egypt really start to matter …”
I have always disliked this way of denigrating one victim — while ostensibly complaining about the media — in the name of bringing attention to other victims. If you want to fight for justice for all, do so! I support it! But do it without pouring scorn on the “pretty” victim for having the misfortune to come to people’s attention via personal tragedy. It’s not like anyone sane wants that experience! If Nir Rosen wants to make amends to Lara Logan and help non-famous, non-white people, he should stop spewing nonsense and consider making a donation to CPJ, which helps journalists of both genders and all races, nationalities and religions. Logan, by the way, is on CPJ’s board, so she’s doing her bit.