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A Response to Jim Hoft on the Matter of Lara Logan

Just for the sake of clarity right up front, and in order to avoid sucking anyone unwillingly into any controversy it might cause, this post represents only my personal views. You will notice that my tagline does not say Erick Erickson.

By now I am sure that most of you have heard that CBS reporter Lara Logan was repeatedly sexually assaulted and beaten severely last Friday during the course of covering the protests in Egypt. The details on what happened at this point are unclear, but given that Logan was hospitalized for almost a full week (reports are coming out that she was released today) the extent of her injuries was apparently quite severe, and the indications are that she may well have been subjected to serial rape. In any event, it is clear that she suffered terribly for doing her job.

In immediate response to this story, the execrable Nir Rosen publicly remarked that Logan essentially got what was coming to her for being a “warmonger.” Rosen’s comments were so repugnant that he has since thankfully been excused from his association with NYU. The Rosen fracas has been covered elsewhere extensively and I do not wish to rehash it here – anyone who is surprised at this kind of behavior from Rosen has clearly not been following his career.

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to this only slightly less offensive post from GatewayPundit’s Jim Hoft. Until I read this post yesterday I was a fan of Jim’s work in general and so I hope he will take this in the spirit of someone who is not, like MMFA, constantly out for gotcha quotes from conservatives, but rather from an ally who generally agrees that the media soft-peddles the dangers of Islam and that many liberals are likewise dangerously blind to its ills.

Jim, your post was appalling and should be apologized for without qualifications.

First of all, it is necessary to clarify some misconceptions that people in general seem to have about this story. Logan did not wander alone aimlessly into the middle of a rioting mob, as some of the “blame Logan” crowd seems to suggest. Her crew – which included several male camera and production personnel and a trained security detail – were from all accounts that exist surrounded by a moving mob of approximately 200 men which forcibly separated her from her crew and her security and repeatedly assaulted her. This is not whatsoever a case of a lone female injecting herself into a dangerous situation (even if one grants the fallacious premise that this is relevant to whether the female in question is in any way to blame for being repeatedly raped and beaten half to death).

Second, Hoft (and many others) seem to be of the opinion that Lara Logan is somehow blind or ignorant of Muslim culture and its treatment of women and/or Westerners. This is of course uninformed commentary of the highest order. Whatever Logan’s political beliefs, she has spent the better part of a decade essentially living in primarily Muslim countries and reporting from the front lines of dangerous and hairy situations. An attractive female reporter like Logan simply does not survive that long in those situations without being more aware of the dangers posed in that part of the world than Jim Hoft will ever be from his perch in St. Louis. The suggestion that Logan was a doe-eyed naïf in this circumstance is just eager jackassery of the worst sort, and is advanced only because it fit Hoft’s pre-conceived narrative of what the story should be.

It is that preconceived narrative which exposes something ugly about Hoft, which I truly hope he did not mean. Hoft’s post begins:

Lara Logan is lucky she’s alive. Her liberal belief system almost got her killed on Friday.

Later, when criticized by Media Matters, Hoft doubled down:

The far left does not like it when their tenets are questioned. It must be hard when someone holds a mirror up and you see that your twisted agenda has caused such havoc and pain around the world. These warped individuals must have missed that day of school when they talked about playing with fire.

Hoft’s instinctive – and completely factually unsupported – leap to blame the victim of a serial rape on her own behavior does more than play into the liberal caricature of misogynist conservative men, it actively exhibits it. Lara Logan was on-scene because her job required her to be there. Her stock and trade is reporting on ongoing events in the Middle East and there is no more newsworthy event occurring right now than the riots in Egypt. Whatever deficiencies might have existed in the size, firepower, and rules of engagement of her security detail may squarely be laid at the feet of CBS, not Logan.

Boiling this down to the point: what sort of alleged conservative man witnesses a woman subjected to a near-death beating and repeated sexual assault and has a first instinct – before almost any verifiable facts are and before the victim herself has been even released from the hospital to cast about for reason to blame the woman for being there, rather than her assailants who are – as sentient beings – morally responsible for her treatment? The question is rhetorical mainly because I prefer not to speak aloud the answer.

Hoft’s analysis of Logan’s brutalization is at least to some extent morally distinguishable from Rosen’s. Rosen explicitly said that Logan got what she deserved, which implied that her attackers were in some sense justified in raping her. Hoft merely implied – out of ignorance – that Logan’s naïveté caused what happened to her. Both reactions, however, were borne of the same misguided impulse to assume that a perceived political enemy is responsible for whatever tragedy befalls them. I find Hoft’s remarks to be materially indistinguishable from Markos Moulitsas’ widely condemned “screw them” remarks concerning the American contractors who were brutally murdered in Iraq, or the remarks of many of Roman Polanski’s defenders who always seemed to want to focus on the choices made by a 13-year-old girl and not the monster who forcibly sodomized her.

When a circumstance like this occurs, I would hope that human decency – not political correctness, mind you, but simple human decency – would compel commentators (conservative commentators in particular) to confine themselves to words of comfort and solace for the victim and her friends and family. All of us at times in the blogosphere have succumbed to the tendency to troll for controversy or to be the lone voice with the “edgy” or contrarian opinion on the hot button story of the day; I hope that upon further reflection, Jim Hoft will realize that succumbing to that temptation in the context of a story like this was beneath him, and recant.

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