Me­dia has plenty to be thank­ful about

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

In be­tween breath­less con­dem­na­tions of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion for sti­fling its free speech, end­less court fil­ings de­mand­ing clas­si­fied and sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion from the mil­i­tary and intelligence agen­cies, and self-pity­ing me­dia in­dus­try con­fabs be­moan­ing their hem­or­rhag­ing cir­cu­la­tions (with the ex­cep­tion of the New York Post), my col­leagues in the Amer­i­can me­dia don’t have much time to give thanks. Al­low me:

Give thanks we don’t live in Bangladesh, where you can be put on trial for writ­ing col­umns sup­port­ing Is­rael and con­demn­ing Mus­lim vi­o­lence. Just ask Salah Ud­din Shoaib Choud­hury, ed­i­tor of Blitz, the largest tabloid English­language weekly in Bangladesh. He is cur­rently fac­ing a sedi­tion trial for speak­ing out about the threats rad­i­cal Is­lam poses in Bangladesh. He has been im­pris­oned, ha­rassed, beaten and con­demned. In court two weeks ago, his per­se­cu­tors read th­ese charges against him: “By prais­ing the Jews and Chris­tians, by at­tempt­ing to travel to Is­rael and by pre­dict­ing the so-called rise of Is­lamist mil­i­tancy in the coun­try and ex­press­ing such through writ­ings inside the coun­try and abroad, you have tried to dam­age the im­age and re­la­tions of Bangladesh with the out­side world.” For ex­press­ing th­ese dis­si­dent opin­ions, he faces the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­e­cu­tion.

Give thanks we don’t live in Egypt, where blog­gers have been de­tained by the gov­ern­ment for crit­i­ciz­ing Is­lam and ex­pos­ing the ap­a­thy of Cairo po­lice to sex­ual ha­rass­ment of women. Just ask Ab­del Karim Suli­man Amer, 22, who was ar­rested ear­lier this month for “spread­ing in­for­ma­tion dis­rup­tive of pub­lic or­der,” “in­cite­ment to hate Mus­lims” and “de­fam­ing the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic.” Ask Rami Siyam, who blogs un­der the name of Ayy­oub, and has been out­spo­ken in his crit­i­cism of Egyp­tian bru­tal­ity. He was de­tained last week along with three friends af­ter leav­ing the house of a fel­low blog­ger. His host, 24-year-old re­formist Mus­lim Muham­mad al-Shar­qawi, had been de­tained by the Egyp­tian gov­ern­ment this spring as he left a peace­ful demon­stra­tion in Cairo where he had dis­played a sign read­ing, “I want my rights.” Shar­qawi was beaten in prison over sev­eral weeks.

Give thanks we don’t live in Su­dan, where edi­tors can lose their heads for not kow­tow­ing to the gov­ern­ment line. Ask the fam­ily of Mo­hammed Taha, ed­i­tor in chief of the Su­danese private daily Al-Wi­faq, who was found de­cap­i­tated on a Khartoum street in Septem­ber. He had been kid­napped by masked ji­hadi gun­men. What did Taha do that cost him his life? He in­sulted Is­lam, and dared to ques­tion Mus­lim his­tory, the roots of Mo­hammed and other Mus­lims. Be­fore his mur­der, his pa­per was shut­tered for three months and he was hauled into court for “blas­phemy.”

Give thanks we don’t live in China, the world’s lead­ing jailer of jour­nal­ists and In­ter­net crit­ics. Con­sider Yang Xiao­qing, jailed for five months be­cause he re­ported cor­rup­tion among lo­cal of­fi­cials in the cen­tral Hu­nan prov­ince. Or Yang Tian­shui, sen­tenced to 12 years in jail this spring for post­ing es­says on the In­ter­net sup­port­ing a move­ment by ex­iles to hold free elec­tions. Or Li Yuan­long, a Guizhou re­porter for the Bi­jie Daily jailed for two years on sub­ver­sion charges be­cause he dared to crit­i­cize the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party on for­eign web­sites. Or any of the other 32 jour­nal­ists and 50plus blog­gers be­hind bars.

Give thanks we don’t live in Le­banon, where out­spo­ken writ­ers pay with their lives. Jour­nal­ist and Chris­tian Ortho­dox ac­tivist Samir Kas­sir, who was crit­i­cal of Syr­ian in­volve­ment in Le­banon, was as­sas­si­nated in a Beirut car bomb­ing in 2005. His col­league, An-Na­har news­pa­per man­ager Gi­bran Tueni, was killed in a car bomb­ing last De­cem­ber. Le­banese TV an­chor­woman and Chris­tian jour­nal­ist May Chidiak sur­vived a sep­a­rate car bomb­ing last fall, but lost an arm, leg and use of one eye.

Give thanks we don’t live in Rus­sia, where in­ves­tiga­tive jour- nal­ists rou­tinely wind up dead. Last month, un­re­lent­ing re­porter and Putin critic Anna Politkovskaya was found shot dead in her apart­ment. In the days be­fore her death, Politkovskaya had been work­ing on a story about tor­ture in Chech­nya, ac­cord­ing to her news­pa­per, No­vaya Gazeta. She joins a death toll that in­cludes Paul Kleb­nikov, the U.S.-born ed­i­tor of the Rus­sian edi­tion of Forbes, who had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Rus­sian busi­ness un­der­world and was gunned down out­side his Moscow of­fice in 2004; Valery Ivanov, ed­i­tor of the news­pa­per Toly­atin­skoye Oborzreniye, also shot dead af­ter in­ves­ti­gat­ing or­ga­nized crime and drug traf­fick­ing in 2002; and Larisa Yu­d­ina, ed­i­tor of the op­po­si­tion news­pa­per Sovet­skaya Kalmykia in south­ern Rus­sia, who was stabbed to death by for­mer gov­ern­ment aides.

Give thanks we don’t live in Den­mark, where the car­toon­ists who dared to car­i­ca­ture Mo­hammed and chal­lenge creep­ing sharia are still in hid­ing, in fear for their lives.

Give thanks we don’t live in Italy, where a spine­less judge bowed to ji­hadists and put famed war jour­nal­ist Ori­ana Fal­laci on trial for her sharp-tongued cri­tiques of Is­lam. She suc­cumbed to can­cer be­fore they could ex­act a venge­ful penalty against the li­on­ess. But they made the price of “in­sult­ing” Is­lam known far and wide to the cow­er­ing West­ern me­dia.

Give thanks we live in Amer­ica, land of the free, home of the brave, where the me­dia’s elite jour­nal­ists can leak top-se­cret in­for­ma­tion with im­punity, win Pulitzer Prizes, cash in on lu­cra­tive book deals, rou­tinely in­sult their read­er­ship and view­er­ship, broad­cast en­emy pro­pa­ganda, turn a blind eye to the vic­tims of ji­had, and cast them­selves as op­pressed vic­tims on six­fig­ure salaries.

God bless the U.S.A.

Michelle Malkin is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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