Dear Western journalist,
Please cease using the argument that the reason you are writing crap about Syria is because “media is not allowed there.” The Arab League report lists 147 media outlets – Arab and foreign – working in Syria in January, 2012. I and a few others who were there at the time were not even on the list. Ahead of me in line at the border was the CBC crew, who was on that list. Perhaps the reason you have such a hard time getting in is because you need to wait – like CBC Suzy – for visas for 47 staff and support staff members, including people to hold your over-sized coffee cup as you interview an opposition gunman in that special breathless way you do it. Of course you need a translator for that too, because otherwise you wouldn’t have a fucking clue if you were in Idlib or Homs now, would you?
You are delighted to air shaky cell phone footage from a person you have never met at the top of the news hour, but balk when there are 50,000 cell phone witnesses at a pro-regime rally. “Media is not allowed in” you explain condescendingly. Tell us then, what explains your inability to ask the most elementary of questions when you do write your Syria stories every day, anyway, from outside? You know, questions that go something like this: “How do you know how many people died today? How do you know their names? Who verified this? Where did the explosion take place? How do you know who was responsible for the explosion? Why do you support Bashar al Assad? Why do you not support the militarization of the conflict? Why do you not support the internationalization of the conflict? Why do you not support sanctions against Syria? Who kidnapped your father? Who shot your uncle? Who killed your child? Who was the sniper?”
None of us have ever heard a major western journalist ask any of those questions. They are questions that 1) ask for evidence, 2) are addressed to a pro-regime Syrian and 3) are asked of domestic opposition figures. Oh yes – we need you to be in Syria to “verify” things for us precisely because you publish “unverified” stories every day and seek to inject “balance” into the Syrian story…in much the same way you do the Palestinian-Israeli story and the Israeli-vs-Iranian nukes one, and the Saudi Arabians-are-moderate-Arabs one – and that one really poignant story about how Muslims are “collateral damage” who become “terrorists” when they shoot back.
The idea that Joe Journo needs to be in Syria to tell the world (and Syrians) what is going on, is YOU on colonial crack.
Take your time,
Originally published on the author's blog on Mar 15, 2012.