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Attack On Lara Logan Unleashes Victim-Blaming and Islam-Bashing

Attack On Lara Logan Unleashes Victim-Blaming and Islam-Bashing

Anyone who has spent time poking around on the internet will not be surprised that a story involving sexual assault, Muslims and a blonde reporter who once did part-time work as a swimsuit model unleashed a torrent of venom and vulgarity all over the web.

In the wake of CBS’s report that their reporter Lara Logan had been the victim of a “brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating,” many news consumers reacted with empathy and support — and many others reacted with vitriol and vicious mockery. 

Hundreds of comments on this Yahoo News story, for instance, are variations of slurs against Muslims and Arabs, calls to “eradicate” them and assertions that anyone who goes into the presence of a Muslim man deserves to be raped. (Never mind, of course, that we do not know for sure who the attackers are, and never mind that Logan was rescued by an intrepid group of women and members of the Egyptian army, many of whom were no doubt Muslims and/or Arabs.)

Hundreds more commenters crudely speculate about Logan’s body and the details of the attack. They call her “stupid,” “arrogant,” a “tramp,” a “bimbo,” a “professional victim,” and a “liar,” who was “flashing her titties,” and should be “grateful” and “grow up” — along with a laundry list of other invectives, many of them unprintable. 

Several say the attack is “karma!” for the presumed advantages she has gained as a reporter with her “super-model looks,” or her just deserts for her presumed liberal politics.

At NPR, the comments got so bad that not only were dozens deleted, one correspondent wrote a post reiterating the comment policy and writing “There’s much we don’t know about what happened. Until we learn more, for example, jumping to conclusions about her attackers adds nothing to the discussion. They’re criminals. Period.” He continues, “Blaming the victim is an old, tired game. Please don’t.”

“It Kinda Warms My Heart”

But the victim-blaming and Muslim-bashing wasn’t a phenomenon only of the nastiest sort of anonymous internet commentators.

Nir Rosen, a left-wing writer and former NYU fellow — who resigned after being widely denounced for his reaction to this story — tweeted that she was “probably groped,” and that the attack was “wrong…but it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too.” (The last tweet is quoted by several news sources, but has been deleted from Rosen’s twitter feed.) While Rosen didn’t directly blame Logan for the assault, he seemed to suggest that her previous political positions made her less worthy of sympathy and defense, tweeting, “jesus christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger.” Rosen has since apologized several times.

A few right-wing pundits seem to agree that the attack on Logan was a just — or at least, inevitable — consequence of holding ideas they find objectionable.

Debbie Schlussel captioned a picture of Logan “Alhamdillullah [praise allah] [sic, she's spelling it wrong], Islam Fan Lara Logan Gets a Taste of Islam.” She writes, “it bothers me not a lick when mainstream media reporters who keep telling us Muslims and Islam are peaceful get a taste of just how ‘peaceful’ Muslims and Islam really are. In fact, it kinda warms my heart.” She’s since updated the post to say those who read that statement as saying she supports sexual violence are “morons.”

At GatewayPundit, Jim Hoft suggests that the attack on Logan was the result of “political correctedness,” writing, “Why did this attractive blonde female reporter wander into Tahrir Square last Friday?…Did she not see the rock throwing? Did she miss the camels?…What was she thinking? Was it her political correctness that about got her killed?” 

Logan has “wandered” through many war zones, and I think it’s safe to say she noticed that Egypt was in turmoil. Hoft’s inference, of course, is that by not giving up on the story she is partly to blame for being attacked — and that “political correctedness” in the only conceivable reason a pretty female reporter would want to report on one of the most important stories in the world.

Stand Against the Tide

Many internet writers and media figures have criticized the rampant victim-blaming and Muslim-bashing swirling around the story. Just a few stories critiquing the uproar include “What Not to Say About Lara Logan,” by Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon, “Trigger Warning: The Lara Logan Case on the Net” by Echidne of the Snakes, and “After Lara Logan’s Assault, Media Helpfully Discuss Her Hotness,” at Jezebel. In addition, no matter how vile comment sections on the news stories get, there are always commenters who stand up to those who are making rape jokes and comparing Muslims to insects.

None of the blaming, shaming and attacking happening on the internet around this story is new; the nonsensical arguments, the slurs and the crude jokes are all too frequently employed when it comes to news stories about sexual assault. 

Victim-blaming is distressingly common in the mainstream media, among political figures, and in the courts.

However, because the public is paying attention to this story, it’s an opportunity to bring these arguments out into the light and expose their nastiness and their foolishness. If we can make a case for not victim-blaming Lara Logan, and not using an assault on her as an excuse to stigmatize Muslims, then hopefully we can encourage people to question victim-blaming and racist or Muslim-bashing rhetoric in other cases that are less high-profile.

Related Stories

CBS Reporter Lara Logan Sexually Assaulted in Cairo

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Photo is from Wikimedia Commons.

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214 comments

+ add your own
12:17AM PDT on Apr 12, 2013

I do strongly agree that we shouldn't single out or keep blaming other religions.
Religion is a good thing, it taught us to be kind and compassionate to others

Yet there is always a small percentage of extremists who are always giving trouble,thus giving whichever religion a bad name.

12:43PM PDT on Jul 20, 2011

This occurs in nearly all religious and racial backgrounds and should not single out muslims....but if the person(s) who committed this rape/crime is muslim or christian, white, black or cream colored, it should be part of the entire description of the person. The circumstances and how and where this crime occured is vastly more important than their religious beliefs, unless it was a ritualistic rape.

5:49AM PDT on Jul 6, 2011

Raen L. I totally agree with you..........RAPE happens all over the world and even within families...........it surely is the worst side of human nature. It showed much courage for this woman to 'do her job' in Egypt...her job!!! Although I see many events happening w/i the Muslim culture that I abhor, it is up to them to control/punish their extremists. BUT, I see little hope for that ... their 'religion' is full of contridictions and they have many sides w/i their religion that are violent. Christianity hasn't always been 'civilized' nor is it free of adverse elements........just consider those who 'demonstrate' and say vile things at a soldiers funeral...

5:14AM PDT on Jul 6, 2011

if the males in her family were real men & not grrlie-boys, they would go find the rapists ...

11:58AM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

There are sexual assaults everywhere, religion has little to do with it.
As someone who has lived in Cairo, I must confess I'm surprised at Ms. Logan's apparent lack of knowledge of the society she was dealing with.
It is well known how Egyptians percieve western women, and even in planes they give you dress codes to avoid. A huge gathering in Tahrir is somewhere where you expect to meet all sorts of people, so a reason to try and call the least attention on yourself.
It's not that covering up completely will save you from a sexual aggression, but it might make you less apparent to the sick attackers and it will make you look "honorable" to the rest of their society and you might get help sooner.
Let's face it, this "selective help" happens everywhere but with different standards. Here you'd go offer help sooner to a person who falls in the street that looks sober than to someone who looks drugged or drunk (diabetic comas make you look drunk and I can tell people don't come near "just in case").
Unfortunately her clothes may have made many in Tahrir think she was "not too honorable" (and even more since she was a western woman). Maybe this awful event would have not gone so far had she adapted better to the society she was in.
I'm sorry this happened, not only because nobody deserves going through such an experience, but because it gives cheap weapons to intolerance.

There are good people everywhere, of all faiths. Unfortunately there are sick people everywhere too.

2:14AM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Anti-Islam Groups needs an opportunity to bash Islam.They are Vultures always in search of Prey.and some Idiots people gave them this opportunity.Rapers are in every culture.does this one raper represents the whole community.If yes,according to these Islam bashers then,this is end of democracy-which is based on rule of majority.

12:57AM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

No not pigs..people like that shouldn't be compared to pigs who are at least intelligent.

12:56AM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

People can be so shameless. Not only for blaming a victim after a brutal attack, but going around and saying that she "deserved it." Have a heart and put yourself in someone else's shoes for once you ignorant pigs!!

6:21AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

she should grown up & carry a blade, to remove the junk of the boys that attacked her.

8:41AM PDT on May 22, 2011

The blame goes to the animals tat attacked her. The praise goes to those who saved her.

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