Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Terror in Tahrir

My voice cracked just now as I tried to read the news story out loud to my husband. CBS Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Lara Logan, 39, was covering the political upheaval in Egypt last week, when on Friday she was surrounded by a crazed mob and brutally beaten and sexually assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. In the frenzied activity she was separated from her crew. According to CBS reports, Ms. Logan was finally saved “by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.”

I’m in mental disarray trying to reconcile my feelings about this. Anger at the violence, gratitude to the women and soldiers who came to her rescue, frustration at Ms. Logan for placing herself in such a location. Earlier in the week her crew had been targeted by angry protesters. “We were accused of being more than journalists, very frightening suggestions were made. Suggestions that really could be very dangerous for us,” said Logan, as quoted by the New York Daily News.

I can’t place myself in the mind of a woman who stays somewhere after that experience. I know I don’t possess the obsessive journalist drive that I must stay until the story is complete. And I’ve never been in the middle of such a huge historic event so I can’t place myself there mentally. But I’ve been places where I felt unsafe and I’ve been in the midst of scary people. When I feel true danger, I flee. Count me as one of the team who puts my personal safety before the story. Had she been a rescue worker or soldier I would have a different view. Putting the life, safety, or welfare of others ahead of your own is different than getting 20 seconds of great TV footage.

Lara Logan is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. I’ve often thought to myself that she’s too pretty for the job she does, or more importantly where she does it. She’s an outstanding journalist and reporter, but her brilliance and talent cannot overshadow centuries-old cultural differences that have no respect for women as people, let alone as professionals.

I know Ms. Logan is not ignorant to the dangers of her job. In 2007 she survived a suicide bombing of her hotel in Baghdad. She knows the dangers, and she accepts them. I have to respect her right to make decisions for herself. But it doesn’t mean I don’t wish she’d choose otherwise.

My overwhelming feeling right now is sadness. I cannot imagine the terror that Ms. Logan undoubtedly experienced, and the lasting effects this will have on her. Wishing her recovery is so underwhelmingly less than what I wish in my heart.

I wish that women worldwide could pursue whatever vocation they want without fear of being beaten for it.
I wish that women worldwide could be seen as equal in every aspect of life, worthy of every respect.

And I thank God for those Egyptian women who came to rescue the stranger being assaulted in front of them.

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