Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Boston Globe's website is currently running this pic above its lede on the Isikoff story:

As I see it, the picture is significant for three reasons.

First, it should be tremendously disturbing any time a U.S. flag is burned in a foreign country, let alone an Islamic one.

Second, the picture itself is astonishingly good: the fire frames the protestors themselves, whose outstretched arms in turn mimic the plume in the top right.

Third, the picture contains one rather conspicuous absence: namely, Michael Isikoff.

Now, I can certainly understand the desire to assign blame for the recent violence in Pakistan beyond the perpretrators themselves. But before you get to Isikoff, you need first to mention a host of contextual factors. For one, there's an extremist Islamic culture which is shamefully quick to resort to violence; for another, there's an American foreign policy which is shamefully insensitive to non-extremist Islamic culture; and finally, there's an American military which detains non-state actors at Gitmo in the first place.

Admittedly, Isikoff made a mistake, but nobody -- least of all the White House -- should confuse his erratum with the political and cultural factors which led up to it.


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