De mortuis nil nisi bonum is that venerable Roman maxim which means: “Of the dead [say] nothing but good.”
That needs one additional word: “Of the honored dead say nothing but good.”
Otherwise, if our initial missiles fired into the city of Baghdad had killed Saddam Hussein, how could all obituaries truthfully say nothing but good?
Should we say nothing but good about a suicide bomber?
Should we say nothing but good about a young American from Washington state who was so anxious to help the suicide bombing Palestinians that she put herself in front of an armored Israeli bulldozer? She was in a position that was out of sight of the soldier-driver, who was unable to see her through the narrow openings and therefore ran over her, so she was dead-on-arrival at a hospital.
Her death was given worldwide coverage – including a cartoon in the University of Maryland’s student newspaper, the Diamondback.
This cartoon, by Daniel Friedman, shows a bulldozer bearing down on a seated woman. Its caption was blunt – but it might deter others from what this caption noted as: “STUPIDITY … SITTING IN FRONT OF A BULLDOZER TO PROTECT A GANG OF TERRORISTS.”
That created an absolute uproar at the University of Maryland. The offices of the Diamondback were occupied overnight by a mob of 60, including the Muslim Student Association. The newspaper also received nearly 2,000 e-mails, most of them furious, some threatening. There were also denunciations from University Chief of Staff Ann Wylie, Provost Bill Destler and University President Dan Mote.
Much of this was reported by the Baltimore Sun. But the Sun failed to report the Yahoo! file photo of Feb. 15, 2003, which has an Associated Press photo by Khalil Hamrah with the following caption: “Rachel Corrie, 23, from Olympia, Wash., a member of the ‘International Solidarity Movement’ burns a mock U.S. flag during a rally in the Gaza Strip town Rafa.”
Why did the Baltimore Sun and most of our major media fail to report this burning of her nation’s flag by this American would-be Palestinian martyr?
A photograph attributed to Reuters news agency was published worldwide. It showed Rachel Corrie standing to the left of a bulldozer, where the driver can see her clearly, as she holds a megaphone in her hand – with a caption: “Photographed before Rachel Corrie was run over by an Israel Defense Force bulldozer.”
But Rachel was run over at 5 p.m. This photograph was taken hours beforehand, as revealed in the colors of the sky in the pictures of her standing and the picture of her after she was hit.
Reporter David Bedein of the Israel News Agency contacted Reuters, who admitted that this photography came to them from Ms. Corrie’s International Solidarity Movement. That this international movement is extremist is apparent on their website.
This, too, was not reported by the Baltimore Sun – nor did the Sun bother to report the statement of the Israel Defense Force of the deep regret of the death of this American citizen during “an operation to level vegetation and prevent terrorists from hiding explosives amid the foliage, a decision that was prompted by yesterday’s discovery of two dangerous explosives in the area.”
“In an effort to avoid confrontation with the protesters, the IDF steered its activity away from the group while repeatedly asking them to evacuate the area that had been designated as military-only. When the activists refused to acquiesce, the IDF was forced to fire crowd dispersion elements in order to disband the group and clear the area … the IDF has repeatedly warned activists against entering the restricted area because of IDF activity, but many groups have continued to ignore the warnings. The International Movement for Solidarity has previously placed its members in similar dangerous situations including the blockade of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and Palestinian Chairman Arafat’s compound.”
Why did the Baltimore Sun and other major media fail to report any of this information?
The Sun, which has a large bureau in Washington, also failed to report the following news from the University of Maryland in College Park, a suburb of Washington: Jay Parsons, editor in chief of the Diamondback refused to apologize for the cartoon which was denounced by University President Mote and two aides. Parsons noted:
What is an embarrassment is that we have university administrators who do not practice what they preach. The entire university community received an e-mail from Mote promoting tolerance of differing viewpoints. But not one day later does he and other administrators retreat to pressures that are coming in from the outside. I think it’s hypocritical and goes against everything that higher education is all about.
The 60 protesters who invaded the Diamondback offices demanded a formal apology for the cartoon to be printed, along with an article honoring Rachel Corrie.
But editor Parsons, flanked by two University of Maryland police officers said he would do no such things, because, “As a newspaper, we are the beneficiaries and the guardians of the First Amendment – the very same First Amendment that guarantees all of you the right to stand here today … This cartoon met the editorial staff’s criteria: It did not incite violence and was not considered libelous. Cartoonist Friedman will remain on the Diamondback staff and no infractions will be issued against him.”
How very sad that Jay Parsons’ journalistic integrity is not recognized by the Baltimore Sun nor by the university’s president.