In case you haven’t read about this, Lara Logan, covering the reactions in Tahrir Square to Mubarak’s announcement that he was stepping down on February 11th, got cut off from her camera team when a group of “bad elements,” numbering about 200, surrounded them. She was beaten and sexually assaulted for some time before some Egyptian women and soldiers were able to retrieve her. She returned to the US on the first available flight the next morning, and apparently is still in the hospital.
At Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams has written a piece entitled, “What not to say about Lara Logan,” chronicling a variety of sick and demented reactions to the news. Having done so, she manages to screw the whole thing up at the end:
Here’s what you do say when something like this happens. Like countless women around the world, Lara Logan was attacked in the line of duty. She was assaulted doing her job. It was a crime of unspeakable violence. And your opinion of how she does that job, the religion her assailants share with a few million other people, or the color of her hair had nothing to do with it.
Unfortunately, the religion that her assailants share with a few million other people does seem to be a major facet of the culture that generates people who express their jubilation by assaulting a woman who doesn’t look or dress the way that they do. As Ace says:
The article doesn’t say she was “raped,” but sexually assaulted — I’m not sure what happened. She was ultimately…
saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently in the hospital recovering.
Well, that is something. On the other hand, goddamn if I am not weary of a barbaric desert nomad culture of rape and outrage while carrying around a ton of chip-on-the-shoulder arrogance-hiding-profound-insecurity about it all.
Oh right, a thousand years ago they invented algebra. So, like, they should keep doing victory laps over that.
There’s some context given by a variety of writers at this post from the Maynard Institute:
Sunni Khalid, who has covered Egypt and continues to follow events in the country, told Journal-isms via e-mail:
“When I was living in Cairo, sexual harassment was a problem for all women, but especially for foreign women in Western clothing. Of course, many women, Egyptian and otherwise, began wearing the higab in much greater numbers, either to express their piety or to avoid pervasive sexual harassment and potential assault. In recent years, however, not even simply wearing the higab has been enough to ward off either growing harassment or increasing numbers of sexual assault. You have an obvious contradiction of growing outbursts of sexual violence at a time when Egyptian society has become more socially conservative.”
Writing for the American Prospect, Beenish Ahmed, a writer and social justice activist who recently served as a Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom, wrote on Feb. 11:
“In Egypt, street and sexual harassment has been endemic, even described as a ‘social cancer.’ Egyptian women have become rightfully wary of any sort of public demonstration where they might become targets of abuse. During the 2009 celebration of Eid al-Fitr, no fewer than 150 men were arrested for a harassing spree in a single Cairo neighborhood.
“It might even be worse during protests, which have proved especially disconcerting for women, in part because many alleged attacks come from the security forces as a way to quell the demonstrations. In 2005, for instance, hundreds of young men affiliated with President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party assisted in physically and sexually assaulting female protesters of a government referendum, tearing blouses off two.”
I will grant you that the evidence I’ve seen suggests that the assailants constitute a small minority among the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who have shown real courage and humanity, for the most part. It doesn’t square, though, with Williams’ own treatment of the sexual scandal in the Catholic Church, just for example:
The Catholic Church has taken heat lately for that whole “decades-long, widespread raping of children and covering it up” thing. And as the world searches for explanations as to how so much abuse could have gone unpunished for so long, many lay responsibility on Pope Benedict and the legacy of his tenure as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
But those within the Catholic Church have a few ideas of their own. Who’s to blame for the church’s epic failure to protect kids from sexual predators? Let’s find out!
No, a culture that stones women on the accusation of adultery or honor kills them for having suffered rape and forces them inside the niqab, either by law or by virtue of tolerating sexual harassment, has nothing to do with the sexual assault. On the other hand, the Catholic hierarchy has been trying to pass the buck.
There was indeed something rotten in the Church that permitted these crimes to be perpetrated and covered up, but Westerners covering up for the perversions of Islamic cultures isn’t understanding; it’s willful blindness to the fact that when push comes to shove, and after all of the mealy-mouthed platitudes are said and done, many of them don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone else’s values. Making excuses, trying to seal off the matter of relative cultural values from scrutiny, does nothing at all to advance intercultural dialogue. In the end, it is offensively patronizing, morally bankrupt twaddle.
UPDATE: from JWF–
A network source told The Post that her attackers were screaming, “Jew! Jew!” during the assault. And the day before, Logan had told Esquire.com that Egyptian soldiers hassling her and her crew had accused them of “being Israeli spies.” Logan is not Jewish.
Ironically, it’s the American media that has for two years portrayed tea partiers are being out-of-control raucous mobs with no evidence to support the assertion, yet they’re seemingly giving a casual pass to this savage behavior.