Forum

Lara Logan abused abroad and in U.S.

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

While covering the celebrations taking place in Tahrir Square after former Egyptian Presdient Hosni Mubarak resigned on Feb. 11, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was torn away from her crew by a crowd of approximately 200 Egyptian men. The men surrounded her, beat her, and sexually assaulted her until a group of Egyptian women and approximately 20 Egyptian soldiers saved her. She was reunited with her crew and flown out of the country within hours to return to the United States, where she has been recovering.

The details of Logan’s experience are horrifying, and I hope she recovers quickly. Making matters worse, though, is the hurtful discourse surrounding her attack in the media, where many commentators are blaming Logan for her assault and using the event as an excuse to justify their Islamophobia. In an LA Weekly article about Logan’s attack, author Simone Wilson starts off by noting Logan’s “shocking good looks and ballsy knack for pushing her way to the heart of the action” before even describing the assault.

She repeatedly brings up Logan’s looks throughout the article, calling her a “gutsy stunner” and talking about her “Hollywood good looks,” and she even spends a paragraph gossiping about Logan’s previous relationships. By focusing on Logan’s looks and alleged promiscuity, the author seems to hint that Logan somehow “had it coming” by being a hot blonde, especially with Wilson’s comment at the end of the article that “nobody’s invincible.”
Furthermore, by focusing on Logan’s looks so much, Wilson revealed her ignorance about sexual assault. Looks have nothing to do with sexual assault. Rather, assault is usually more about asserting dominance and control than a way of expressing attraction.

Wilson was not the only one blunt and cruel in her commentary. Jim Hoft wrote on the conservative blog The Gateway Pundit, “Why did this attractive blonde female reporter wander into Tahrir Square last Friday? Why would she think this was a good idea? Did she not see the violence in the square the last three weeks...? What was she thinking?” Hoft seems to think that, as an attractive woman, Logan should have known better than to go anywhere dangerous, and therefore that the event is her fault. This is nothing more than a disgusting example of blaming the victim. Logan, as a journalist, had a responsibility to do her job and report in Tahrir Square. Moreover, she did not “wander” into Tahrir Square, as Hoft claims; she was there with her crew and security, until a crowd of 200 men dragged her away. Regardless of these details, no woman should be blamed for being sexually assaulted.

By saying that Logan should have known better than to go into a potentially dangerous situation, Hoft is excusing the action of the men, shrugging off their attack as though it were somehow inevitable. Women should not be responsible for avoiding all situations where they may be assaulted; perpetrators of assault should be held accountable for their actions, and the culture that tolerates such actions should be confronted head-on. Some pundits, instead of blaming Logan for her attack, have taken another approach: They have used the incident to further their claim that all Muslims are evil, base people. Debbie Schlussel, a conservative political commentator, not only insults and mocks Logan on her website, debbieschlussel.com, but also wrote, “This never happened to her or any other mainstream media reporter when Mubarak was allowed to treat his country of savages in the only way they can be controlled. Now that’s all gone. How fitting that Lara Logan was ‘liberated’ by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the ‘liberation.’ ”

She later updated her article, after getting multiple comments criticizing her posts, to say, ‘Riiiight — It’s not Muslims who don’t respect women and treat them as baby factories, sex toys, and property. It’s America and the West. You keep tellin’ yourself that, morons.’ " Schlussel’s sarcastic reply seems to entirely dismiss the 89,000 rapes reported in 2009 in the United States — and keep in mind that, according to the 1999 United States National Crime Victimization Survey, only 39 percent of victims report incidents of rape and sexual assault.

To paint all Muslims with the broad brushstroke of “rapist savages” is entirely hypocritical and unreasonable — by Schlussel’s logic, all Americans should also be considered savages. Moreover, Schlussel’s claims that Mubarak was “controlling” his “country of savages” comes across as borderline delusional, especially when one considers that almost all of the violence that occurred during the Egyptian protests was at the hands of Mubarak’s plainclothes police officers who were attacking protesters and arresting journalists.

Logan has experienced something horrific, and my thoughts are with her and her family as she recovers from her attack. I sincerely hope that she will not read all of the hurtful and accusatory things that people have been writing about her and will realize that many people stand by her and support her as she recovers. Furthermore, I hope that people will realize that her attack is not indicative of the majority of Muslim people, just as the sexual violence that occurs in the United States is not indicative of all Americans.