Monday, February 21, 2011

The Culture of Silence and Cover Up

Then Nir Rosen, a fellow at New York University and frequent contributor to the New York Times, Atlantic and other august journals, won the disgraceful clown crown for slamming Logan's reporting and saying she had to "outdo Anderson Cooper" in a bid for attention.
Rosen was soon bounced from his fellowship and tweeted that he was "deeply ashamed."
But that started yet another debate about whether Rosen himself was a scurrilous troll or the victim of anti-free speech forces. I vote the former. An Esquire writer actually claimed both Rosen and Logan were "attacked by the same thing ... mob mentality." That's a big stretch.
Sexual assault has always been a weapon of war, a vicious form of vanquishing and violating those who are often the most powerless and vulnerable.
But I never really thought sexual attack was a topic that should open the door to a debate about the life of the victim, or a piranha media frenzy over its coverage, whether it happens in Egypt, the Congo or through "wilding" in Central Park.

The above is from Phil Bronstein's "No need to continue on Lara Logan" (San Francisco Chronicle). And I knew I'd be highlighting it (read column in full, it's more than worth it). But when I was online earlier today and reading the e-mails, I was on the fence about whether or not to do an entry on the topic. It is an important topic, sexual assault and rape and the way our culture treats it, but I really wanted the day off from the topic. That's selfish of me because many, many people can't take a day off from the topic due to their own experiences. But with "The Damned Don't Apologize (Ava and C.I.)" and "Follow up on Nir Rosen" from yesterday, I was hoping enough was said for Monday to be an easy day and Phil would be highlighted but otherwise we'd focus on some other things today.

But community members determine the direction and those e-mails are asking a number of questions. The easiest way to do the needed entry is to do it with a story.

I have several houses but I make my home in the Bay Area. That's by choice. There are other wonderful cities but I choose the Bay Area. And while choosing the Bay Area, I reject New York City. DC is fine, too much political process, but a fine city. I have a home in the area and I could live there without any problems. I will not make a home in New York City.

The reason is right at the finger tips of many who e-mailed. They list this outlet and that outlet and this watchdog and that watchdog based in NYC and how none of them barked, how none of them called out the sexual assault.

One of the outlets, you're listing -- in fact, it's the one Marcus, Renee, Chris, Roger and Billie all made the entire thrust of their e-mail -- you shouldn't be surprised it's not going to do its job and cover any sexual assault. The man in charge there and my left knee and my right fist are very well acquainted.

At a lefty party many years ago, the man (who was married at the time and had brought his wife to the party) made what he likes to downgrade to a pass but I tend to see passes as verbal and not as pushing me down and sticking your hands into my clothes. I guess I'm just the prude here. As I said, he's now very well acquainted with my left knee and right fist. Now you might think having his lip bloodied at a party would have hurt his reputation.

If you think that, you're not the smug left of NYC media. None of his assaults have ever tarnished his reputation. Rebecca trashed him at her site when he went on the radio and trashed me about five years ago. (Trashed me, not "C.I.") And he did it publicly and chose his forum to be sure it would get back to me. Rebecca's convinced I'm suppressing anger over the radio appearance and she may be right but my take then and now is what an ineffectual and pathetic little man he is -- one whose ass I can still kick.

How can they avoid this topic, wonder many? Why would they touch it? Sheila Graham, years and years ago, was promoting one of her books and was asked a question, she answered honestly. Here's the dishonest answer.

Interviewer: JFK has so many affairs. Why didn't anyone report on them?

Generic Male: Uh, we just didn't talk about those things back then.

Here's the way Sheila's answer went.

Interviewer: In your book, you write about ____ and her multiple affairs with married men. How come you never wrote about that in your columns at the time?

Sheila Graham: ____ was always good copy and, most of our editors were married men and they were involved in affairs as well so we tended to look the other way.

Why is the NYC contingent -- left and mainstream both -- ignoring Nir Rosen's offensive attack on Lara Logan and her claim that she had it coming? Because that reflects a lot of them. Generic Male Reporter wouldn't say it but a Sheila Graham type would cut through the crap.

When the man I was referring to a bit ago trashed me on the radio, I laughed. And I still do. But it was also a huge gift because, as word traveled, a number of women contacted me to ask if I'd had been sexually assaulted or raped by the man? They contacted me because they had been.

In the immediate aftermath of the assault, I didn't run around telling everyone, "Do you know what that prick did?" But a number of men and women visited me to tell me how sorry he was and how there was a mistake in communication and all this other crap. It was an organized effort. And it's why I don't live in NYC. People I had respect for? I saw just how hollow they were. Anyone who knows me, knew the assault would have ended for me with his bloody lip. Just because I'm a forward motion person (auto-pilot when it comes to myself) and I also do everything I can to avoid appearing in the press. And even though some people knew that, they still visited me to ask that I please, please try to understand it from his point of view.

This wasn't once, this wasn't twice. That's why I don't live in NYC, that's why I wouldn't make a home there. I'm left and I couldn't stomach a number of the left in NYC because they condoned sexual assaults and rape. Their way of 'dealing' with it among their own was to rush forward and insist no one talk about it (bad enough) and then follow it with 'he's really not a bad person.'

So don't be surprised that you saw nothing from the NYC bubble. Maureen Dowd lives in the DC area but she publishes in a New York City outlet which is why I especially give her credit for tackling the way Lara Logan was treated. Why is it that until Sunday -- with all their columns and all their blogs -- the New York Times didn't really have an opinion about the attacks on Logan?

Why does sexual assault as a topic get so little attention from the media? Because most of it is based in NYC and they all eye each other to see if anyone's covering it and what you find is no one does over and over.

A community member noted the right wing site Pajamas Media had found an interesting quote from Nir Rosen (I'm not seeing any individual author, so we're crediting it to Pajamas Media):

In general in the Muslim world, non-Muslim women are at an advantage. There's like a force field around them, people don't want to come too close. Jill Carroll maybe was an exception, but there haven't been that many women who I know of that have been attacked. Maybe groped here and there. Men are just maybe more uncomfortable around women, or don't even see them.

Giuliana Sgrena was kidnapped as well. Has he forgotten that? Marie Jeanne Ion was kidnapped. Florecne Aubenas was kidnapped. Do we need to note the many nuns in Iraq who were the victims of violence? We could go on and on. As for the last sentence, I believe Nir Rosen is projecting his own feelings onto others.

Where did that crap appear? At Columbia Journalism Review. Joel Meares fawned over Nir Rosen instead of calling him out for those idiotic claims or even merely requesting Nir to support that ridiculous claim. But that is CJR's approach to sexism and ignorance, isn't? And they have to coddle Nir which is why despite claiming that they are a watchdog, they've avoided his attacks on Lara Logan. They've covered for 'their boy.' That's what they do. That's what they always do.

And Amy Goodman didn't out her baby boi Nir, did she? Why would she? When you're such trash that your friend Larry F**nt publishes your writing (repeatedly) in his H**ler 'magazine,' you're already so f**ked up that there's no hope for you. If you're late to the story -- one Amy Goodman didn't cover -- you can read this article at ZNet. And, NOT WORK SAFE, you can visit the Hustling The Left website which names many names and reproduces some of the many sexist and racist works from that 'magazine.'

How does this happen? You'd think at least the racist cover lines from the magazine would have alarmed the likes of Amy Goodman. But if you pay attention to Democracy Now!, you realize Amy's only concerned with racism when men are effected. The racist tag lines that 'magazine' runs across African-American women wasn't a concern of Amy Goodman's or the others in the bubble.

Harper's magazine, In These Times, The Progressive, Democracy Now, CJR, et al, they all ignore it. But you better believe when it's time to rally against some Republican up for election or re-election, suddenly their heart bleeds for feminism. The way they really, really care about homophobia -- like in 2008, when a supporter of John McCain was a homophobe and Goodman made that an entire segment but refused in 2007 to report on Barack Obama putting homophobes on stage at a campaign event to preach homophobia. Or the way Goodman refused to devote a segment to calling Barack out for all of his homophobic clergy supporters -- they all had long public records of homophobia but throughout 2008 Goody ignored it.

They have no ethics. It matters only when the other side does it. If you don't get how pathetic they are you apparently didn't receive The Nation's latest mailing. Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, a homophobic term (that most on the left have fortunately retired but not The Nation). That's what they've got to offer, that they aren't those people. They can't tell you what they stand for or what they are or what their magazine offers, but they can do one page (back and front) on Rush Limbaugh and a lengthy letter on Sarah Palin and toss that homophobic term around. How empty is their tank that this is how they are trying to pump up their dismal circulation. (If they can get you for free issue, they can claim you as a reader in their circulation numbers.) If you think the mailing is disgusting (and it is disgusting) take heart in the fact that I first heard about it from appalled Nation staff.

But they can't change things. The rot comes from the top. And that's why they ignore Nir Rosen's attack on Lara Logan.

They'll be another entry but I need to walk away from the computer for a little while.

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