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The position of a neutral civilian

Posted by Richard on February 24, 2006

Three more journalists were murdered in Iraq Thursday. The victims were Al Arabiya television correspondent Atwar Bahjat and two members of her crew:

Their bodies, riddled with bullets, were found Thursday morning near their vehicle, cameras and satellite dish on the outskirts of the city, 95 kilometers, or 60 miles, north of Baghdad, said Laith Muhammada, a police official.

The team was conducting interviews when two men pulled up in a pickup truck, shooting in the air and shouting, "We want the correspondent," according to a cameraman who avoided capture, the TV network reported.

A crowd that had gathered around the journalists scattered.

The gunmen shot the three and fled, the station reported.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the act, praised Bahjat and her colleagues, and responded positively to one journalist’s plea for reporters’ self-defense rights:

When a reporter asked Talabani during a news conference to allow journalists to carry weapons to defend themselves, the president said:

"Send me an official request and I will approve it and inform concerned agencies to give you the right to carry arms."

My kinda guy, that Talabani. He seems to accept the eminently sensible point of view of that famous gun nut, the Dalai Lama:

If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.

(For source of quote and related information, see Gun Ownership in India by Abhijeet Singh. The context of the Dalai Lama’s remark will amaze you.)

Not everyone agrees, of course, and I’m sure there’s no shortage of hoplophobes in the field of journalism. Via JunkYardBlog comes news that an organization that "promotes the provision of safety training and assistance to media workers" is adamently opposed to letting reporters use firearms to resist savages. INSI, the Ignorant Ninnies Safety Institute, argued that journalists would be further endangering themselves if they carried guns:

“Journalists increasingly are being targeted in conflict largely because they have lost, in the eyes of certain elements, their status as neutral observers. If they bear arms they reinforce this misguided belief by placing themselves on one side or another,” said the INSI director, Rodney Pinder.

“A journalist with a gun says ‘some people in the situation I’m covering are my enemies and I am prepared to kill them if necessary’. That is not the position of a neutral civilian.”

I’ve got news for you, Mr. Pinder — there’s nothing you can do to disabuse "certain elements" of this "misguided belief." If you go to Iraq as a "neutral observer," the jihadist terrorists are your enemies, whether you like it or not and whether you’re armed or not, because they define a "neutral observer" as the enemy; they define everyone who isn’t actively on their side as the enemy. You only have three options: stay the hell away, prepare to kill them if necessary, or prepare to die at their whim.

To the followers of al Zarqawi, the proper position of a neutral civilian is on his knees with a dull knife at his throat.

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2 Responses to “The position of a neutral civilian”

  1. David Gerstman said

    Dexter Filkins of the NY Times is known to pack heat. Apparently it doesn’t always put him in favor with his editors.

  2. DaveP. said

    The media has ALREADY taken sides, and the people in the street- American soldiers, Jihadi murderers, and local civilians alike- are aware of this fact.

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