Dancing with the savage throng 31

Why do journalists believe they are or ought to be exempt from the violence they report?

Last Saturday (February 5, 2011), the reporter Greg Palkot and cameraman Olaf Wiig appeared on Fox News , for which they work, describing how they were attacked by the revolutionary mob in Cairo as they were doing their job. They were obviously badly beaten. Their wounds looked painful. They claimed plausibly that they had feared for their lives.

They deserve sympathy, and they did not suggest that they should have special treatment as newsmen.

But the media in general have taken the wrong side of the conflict between Western civilization and Arab barbarism for at least the last 44 years since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. If sometimes the nature of barbarism is brought home to newsmen in the field with a body-blow, they have no moral standing to justify complaint. There are exceptions, no doubt, and Polkot and Wiig may well be among them. But none should imagine that they have a right to some special immunity that all the world should respect. Barbarians, they should understand, are by nature and definition no respecters of persons.

If journalists from strong societies insert themselves into places where weaker order prevails, they should not expect to be safe. Non-combatant though they are, objective though they may claim to be, their presence has an effect on the events they describe. They’re part of what happens whether they like it or not. They dance with the throng.

If they want to be treated in a civilized fashion, they should promote civilized values. Being anti-American, as so many Western newsmen are, does not wrap them in a sort of moral armor. It approves and encourages belligerence, sometimes extremely savage, of which anyone can be the victim.