Logan’s unfortunate assault
Lara Logan. She decided to fling herself into the middle of a crowd in Egypt's revolutionary quarter, and eventually found herself beaten and sexually harassed. All in the line of duty. Utterly brave woman.
Ms. Logan, we salute you for your courage. However, may we take collective umbrage at the narrative that's stemmed from therein?
Let's be very clear - women do not regularly get raped and beaten on the roads of Arab capitals. I'm not an Arab, but I recognize the whims of the street. And the street has always believed a man who needs to force himself on a woman requires prosthetic help. Arab society is considered blatantly patriarchal- and in many instances, it is: much like Indian, Pakistani, Japanese and even American social structures. The upside - if there could ever be one - of this uber-masculinity is that a man brutalising women in public would be considered persona non grata very quickly. The very act of physical force against females emasculates men in the Arab world. The fact it goes on in private is unfortunate, and must be addressed. But that's digressing from what is important at present juncture.
Ms. Logan, you courageously presented yourself in a zone categorically considered one of the most dangerous in present weeks - where peaceful demonstrators have repeatedly clashed with pro-Mubarak thugs willing to use semi-lethal force. You were separated from your crew, assaulted and sexually abused, for which there can be little to no excuse. Egyptians, and most commentators monitoring the revolution, have in turns been appalled, contrite and utterly ashamed. As well they might be.
However, Edward Said would be happy. Not because he condones rape, but because his thesis on 'Orientalism' and 'Othering' has just been confirmed for the umpteenth time. His work has yet again found the philosopher's stone, and benefitted from the elixir of life.
American networks are keen to portray this incident, hideous yet isolated, as fitting within their narrative of "Watch out! This is where the barbarians take power." It suits them to portray this not as a one-off occurrence but a trend wherein unpleasant Islamic darkness is spreading against the nominally enlightened.
It also fits into the narrative that Israel, that Zionist regime,with its attitude to Palestinian ducks in a barrel, would want promulgated. Its entire claim to impunity in modern socio-political consciousness is as a bulwark against more primitive beings. Strangely, it meshes with the story that scions of bygone Arab dictators would want distributed: the cry of "We're your only hope of civilisation and Americanisation against the mindless, overtly sexualised hordes we control" is one that apparently finds much resonance in most parts of the globe.
Ms. Logan was assaulted. The Arab world should be ashamed, as quite possibly should the male species anywhere. I know I am. But to portray this as a manifestation of Arab-ness or bearded faith, is disingenuous. Lest we forget, the Egyptian revolution has included all casts, social structures and faiths. It's merely that this incidence fits better with utopian ideas of an American ally removed by Neanderthal hordes than of protestors entrenched in warfare against superior force.
What happened to Ms. Logan is deeply unfortunate. However, had I been part of the January 25th movement in Egypt, I'd have probably been beaten senseless by now. Many men and women were. I don't by any means condone the occurrence, but persist in taking offence at the tilt of mainstream coverage. Scores of Egyptians, at present juncture, are wishing they were sufficiently nearby to save Ms. Logan from harassment. I wish I were too, despite I live in the goldfish bowl that is Dubai. Ms. Logan's ordeal was horrendous. Yet, bear in mind that once one steps away from American-centric discourse embellished through popular media, and examine the travails that thousands if not millions have gone through to dislodge Mubarak against US and EU wishes, one finds context. What happened to Logan is a disgrace. But she's one of thousands if not millions, who're not that WASPish, neither that light-eyed, nor that idolised by media. They suffered hardship, misbehaviour and assaults to bring about change. Where are their stories?