The war reporter’s death has been seized on to score points, but the fact is, she always did what was right
The monstrous murder by the Assad regime of the war correspondent Marie Colvin, was appropriated with dizzying speed to score a number of points. First, there were people who felt compelled to compare the expressions of sorrow over one American woman’s loss to the supposed lack of sorrow over the similarly cruel deaths of thousands of Syrians. Since Colvin dedicated – and eventually gave – her life to telling the stories of the victims of war, the juxtaposition seemed particularly self-righteous. Sending a tweet deploring “indifference” is hardly in the same league as sending innumerable reports from the front line, bearing witness.
Colvin’s death was also seized upon to make a point about journalism – that at a time when the profession is widely reviled, it is easy to overlook the fact that many journalists are heroic, doing essential, dangerous, traumatising work. The same word, reporter, should not, it was argued, even be used to describe both Colvin and the shamed phone-hacking commissioners of the News Of The World. Nevertheless, it is fair to point out that all of them were on the same payroll, and employed by the same newspaper magnate.
Finally, Colvin’s assassination renewed debate over whether it was right or wrong for other nations to stand by, failing to intervene in a despotic and merciless assault against so many helpless civilians. Britain’s own politicians are fond of saying that while intervention is not always possible, it is right for other countries to intervene “when they can”. Journalists have no such fine distinctions. It is always right to bear witness. It is always right to inform. Colvin always did what was right. And that is a very rare epitaph.
from Deborah Orr