May 09, 2004

What if They Weren't Crocodiles?

After reading Andrew Stuttaford's recent note in The Corner on arab condemnation of torture in Abu Ghraib I found myself in disagreement. Stuttaford talks about the crocodile tears of arab authoritarians and their lapdog presses finding their voices against torture only at Abu Ghraib and only when done by Americans against Iraqis.

But what if this isn't the case. What if we said instead that we salute and welcome the press and officials of the arab world in their forthright setting of a new and better standard on torture in the Middle East? What if we were to facilitate this new standard by assisting in the publicity and offering to further this welcome sign of cleanup of official abuse across the muslim Middle East?

In short, what if we were to take them seriously as honest expressions of a new reality and then moved to make the facts on the ground match the words?

You could set up a torture report hotline in every embassy and provide quick reporting to the press and ensure that at least Al Hurra did cover the stories. You could hold the press to their words by rating their coverage of domestic or even other foreign torture stories against their coverage of the Abu Ghraib stories. After all, a children's magazine in Egypt that didn't cover Abu Ghraib because it was inappropriate for their audience shouldn't be dinged for not covering such stories in other circumstances. But those that did cover the story have set themselves up as outlets where discussion and condemnation of such things is appropriate. They have set their own bar. They should maintain their new standards.

Posted by TMLutas at May 9, 2004 08:06 AM