Freedom will begin to die if people like CBS News' Lara Logan ever stop running the risks of battlefields and revolutions. Journalists who are attacked or injured while keeping us informed deserve to be called heroes no less than the volunteers in our armed forces.
Sneering at media victims or saying they asked for it is unforgivable. Andrew Sullivan and Jeffrey Goldberg rightly castigate those on the left and right who have slipped beyond the pale in their commentary about the sexual assault Logan suffered. And yet (how best to put this, since my question was prompted by one of the slobs Sullivan and Goldberg quote?) I wonder if the media are being attentive enough to women's interests in their coverage of the upheavals in the Arab world.
Was anyone raped by a gang of men in Tienanmen Square in 1989, for instance, or in Chicago or Paris in 1968? You might reply that it's not fair to Egyptians to try to make the attack on Logan emblematic of a larger problem with gender in their society. Yes, a significant though still relatively small percentage of the demonstrators were women. Women are much better off in Egypt than Saudi Arabia.
Yet 82% of Egyptians still believe that adulterers should be murdered -- and please tell me the last time you saw a photo or video of a man being stoned to death in the Islamic world. Only 41% of Egyptian men believe women should be allowed to serve in top government positions. CBS itself wrote of the indignities women usually suffer on the streets of Cairo, adding that demonstration organizers took care to minimize these in Tahrir Square. Was that just for the sake of Western media crews such as Logan's, ironically enough? We certainly wouldn't fall for it if habitual abuse of members of an ethnic minority was being hushed up for PR purposes.
The attack on Logan should help us remember that Egypt is having a mostly men's revolution to decide which new group of mostly men will be in charge next. Does the U.S. have its political house in order when it comes to gender equality? Not by any means. Our racial politics still usually come first. Gender even took a back seat when we were debating the lower Manhattan cultural center and mosque. But it ought to be worth an occasional mention that we're considerably better off than Egypt and that the democratic ideal toward which it and other mostly Muslim countries are finally straining grows from the radical equality of all people, especially men and women.
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