Assault and Moonbattery

Lara Logan and misogyny on the left.By JAMES TARANTO


A horrible story out of Egypt, and the horrible reaction of some on the left to it, puts us in mind of a scene in “Forrest Gump.” It’s 1968 and Forrest, just returned from Vietnam, is in Washington to collect a medal from President Lyndon B. Johnson. After the ceremony, still in uniform, he goes for a walk, and a mix-up leads him into an antiwar rally, where he encounters his love interest, Jenny. She gets into an argument with her hippie boyfriend, who slaps her in the face. Forrest decks the hippie.

Later the hippie tries to smooth things over with Jenny. “Things got a little out of hand,” he tells her. “It’s just this war and that lying son of a bitch, Johnson! I would never hurt you. You know that.”

Here’s what happened on Friday in Cairo, according to CBS News:

CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a “60 Minutes” story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.

In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being 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 home recovering.

There will be no further comment from CBS News and correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.

The lack of specific detail is completely understandable, as CBS is caught in a conflict between the imperatives of reporting the news and protecting its employee’s personal dignity. But it does leave one having to read between the lines to judge the crime’s seriousness.

Associated Press

Lara Logan in Cairo, just before the attack.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the assault “lasted for roughly 20 to 30 minutes, said a person familiar with the matter, who added that it was ‘not a rape.’ ” Whatever it was or was not, the New York Post reports that “most network higher-ups didn’t even know how brutal the sexual assault was until a few minutes before the statement went out.”

The Post adds that there was an anti-Semitic element to the attack: “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.”

This despicable crime prompted an outburst of Twitter mirth from left-wing journalist Nir Rosen, the Daily Caller reports:

“Yes yes its wrong what happened to her. Of course. I don’t support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson [Cooper] too,” wrote Rosen. . . .

Rosen called Logan a “war monger” and expressed doubt that she was actually assaulted.

“Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger” wrote Rosen.

“Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women, which is still wrong, but if it was worse than [sic] I’m sorry.” . . .

Then came a quasi-apology by Rosen: “ah [obscenity redacted] it, I apologize for being insensitive, it’s always wrong, that’s obvious, but I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get.”

Then a more sincere apology: “As someone who’s devoted his career to defending victims and supporting justice, I’m very ashamed for my insensitive and offensive comments.”

Rosen is a fellow at New York University’s Center on Law and Security. Make that was a fellow, per a statement this morning from Karen Greenberg, the center’s executive director:

Nir Rosen is always provocative, but he crossed the line with his comments about Lara Logan. I am deeply distressed by what he wrote about Ms. Logan and strongly denounce his comments. They were cruel and insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mr. Rosen tells me that he misunderstood the severity of the attack on her in Cairo. He has apologized, withdrawn his remarks, and submitted his resignation as a fellow, which I have accepted. However, this in no way compensates for the harm his comments have inflicted. We are all horrified by what happened to Ms. Logan, and our thoughts are with her during this difficult time.

Rosen’s vile comments make him an outlier among public figures, but there is evidence that others share the sentiments he expressed. The website of National Public Radio reports that “many of the comments that have come in to our post” about the assault “have been flagged and removed because they violated NPR.org’s discussion rules.” NPR’s Mark Memmot does not go into detail, but among the rules he cites is this one: “Do not post anything that could be taken as threatening, harassing, bullying, obscene, pornographic, sexist or racist.” He adds:

As for the news about Logan and discussions about it, two other things are worth bearing in mind:

— There’s much we don’t know about what happened. Until we learn more, for example, jumping to conclusions about her attackers adds nothing to the discussion. They’re criminals. Period.

— Blaming the victim is an old, tired game. Please don’t.

We suppose one has to be careful about jumping to conclusions about the commenters and their now-deleted comments, too. And one must acknowledge that there have been reprehensible reactions from the right, too: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg reports that right-wing blogress Debbie Schlussel used the assault on Logan as an occasion for an invidious anti-Muslim rant. Perhaps the NPR.org comments “jumping to conclusions about her attackers” were more in the Schlusselian spirit than the Rosenite vein.

Goldberg sets up an equivalence between Rosen and Schlussel: “They come from radically different places on the political spectrum, and yet they share a common inhumanity.” True enough, but Schlussel is a fringe figure, whereas Rosen was, until today, affiliated with a major university.

The French newspaper Le Monde is perhaps less fastidious about its comments than NPR. A French-speaking friend reports that “some of the commentators are justifying the attack the way they justified the 9/11 attack.” Here is one comment from Le Monde’s site, as translated by Google:

Well, if it is in the picture, in terms …, it must also be a little, uh .. how to say … American?, to dare to walk dressed in a way that the Egyptians must be considered particularly challenging in normal times, then … What is interesting is that the Yanks with the idea that others may be different is foreign to them.

One other very weird, though much more mildly offensive, comment comes from Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post: “This sort of story has a pernicious staying power: Not a faceless statistic, but a known, blonde [sic], white woman.” What in the world does the color of Logan’s hair and skin have to do with anything?

Two weeks ago, when Hosni Mubarak still ruled his country at least titularly, Logan was detained by Egyptian police and expelled from the country. As BusinessInsider.com reports, that prompted HBO’s lefty unfunnyman Bill Maher to make the following joke: “New rule: now that Hosni Mubarak has released Lara Logan, he must put her intrepid hotness on a plane immediately. In exchange, we will send Elisabeth Hasselbeck.”

Hasselbeck is the token conservative on “The View,” a daytime chat show. BI.com reports that she responded to Maher’s jape with “an angry rant” on the Feb. 7 episode of the program:

“Notice how the audience laughs,” said Barbara Walters, indicating that Maher’s comment was a joke.

[Hasselbeck said, referring in the second person to Maher:] “You can hide anything in the cloak of a joke. It is unfair. It is chauvinistic what you said, and you’ll probably run this again, and I find it disturbing–but also amusing–that I happen to be on your mind.”

“It is wrong to do to any person, any woman, who just happens to disagree with you. You obviously missed the call of civility from our President Barack Obama, and you were on the other line with ignorance and hate.”

Walters said: “I’m not sure it’s about women–well, it is to women–but I think it’s your politics.”

Perhaps without meaning to, Walters gets to the heart of the matter. As with the deranged hatred of Sarah Palin–whom PoliticsDaily’s Suzi Parker manages to blame in part for the attack on Logan!–left-wing politics too often serves as an excuse for, and a spur to, the expression of misogynistic attitudes. Where’s Forrest Gump when we need him?

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