Monday, February 14, 2005

And While We're On The Subject...

God, I love this red ink.

This is my perspective on
the Eason Jordan conflagration, and then I'm shutting up.

He seems to have
backed off his initial statement, whatever it was.
No one seems to have been able to produce a recording of the actual words he said (sacrilegious horrors though they must have been), but that hasn't stopped the right from getting on their high hobby-horses to go riding to the Children's Crusade that this whole mess has turned into. But frankly, the right has been trying to stick it to Jordan
long before this recent dust-up.

Every blessed remark that might even hint that American soldiers are not entirely saintly and free of malice gets twisted by office-chair generals into traitorous slander uttered by quislings who give aid and comfort to the Lord of the Flies and deserve exile, job-loss, blogpiling, and even death.

Well, the gist of the Jordan remarks were that journalists had been targeted by our troops, and that he was concerned to protect his people. Why is this hard to believe, given that "embedding" has become the approved government way to co-opt reporters, and that writers who try to remain independent may be seen as purveyors of unapproved and potentially negative publicity?

Reporters face tremendous dangers all over the world when they enter war zones. The deaths and injuries in Iraq have been particularly high (and not just because of kidnappers). As a response to dangers like these,
The Committee to Protect Journalists was formed in 1981 by foreign correspondents who wanted to defend the right of journalists to report the news "without fear of reprisals". They investigate reports of attacks on journalists, and advocate for and defend them. Their board is composed of an impressive group of newspeople, including Walter Cronkite, Ann Garrels, Anthony Lewis, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault. And as well as the rest of the world, they focus on Iraq.

CPJ's May 2003 report on the
American attack on the Palestine Hotel raised serious questions about the reasons given for the attack. It noted conflicting stories from the Captain responsible for the attack, that the Pentagon had not yet resolved at the time of the report. (Since then they have cleared themselves in spite of obvious inconsistencies). Two cameramen were killed and at least three others were injured. A number of journalists who were in the hotel at the time believed that it was a deliberate attempt to intimidate them.

And this happened the same day that the US fired on Al-Jazeera's offices, killing one of their people.

That was only the beginning.
Stories of growing hostility and even attacks on journalists by American troops kept coming, punctuated by the deaths of reporters and allegations of deliberate targeting. In March of last year Iraqi reporters demonstrated to protest the killings of two Al-Arabiya correspondents by US troops while Colin Powell was in Baghdad. Najaf reporters in August told stories of being threatened with attack if they didn't leave. Tragedies abound.

I can't help be suspicious that so much of this tempest-in-a-teapot has been engineered to paper over just this kind of background info. Not because it was never available to the public in the first place, but because the public has a convenient civic amnesia for things that are neither pounded into its collective brain like Coors commercials, nor fit into its tiny comfort zone.

But a good tar and feathering, now...

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