When mass murderers denounce petty thieves
It’s all right for London and Washington to wag their fingers at Hong Kong for refusing journalist Victor Mallet a visa, but they choose to forget the tactics they have used to silence the media
Let me indulge in a bit of “whataboutism”.
Regarding the Hong Kong government’s refusal to renew the working visa of Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet, reasonable people may and will argue over it endlessly. But I find it amusing that London and Washington are finger-wagging with so much moral indignation, and that some people in Hong Kong take them seriously. Would you listen if serial killers complained that other people were committing petty thefts?
The United States military has actively killed journalists and bombed their offices. Washington has turned a blind eye to some of its closest allies killing, kidnapping, torturing and jailing journalists. During the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq up to 2012, between 136 and 230 journalists and media workers were killed, at least 15 of them directly by US forces. You can Google reports by groups such as Reporters Without Borders.
US forces bombed al Jazeera’s news bureaus in Iraq and Afghanistan. Top White House officials, including George W. Bush himself, even discussed bombing its global headquarters in Doha.
The US routinely bans foreign journalists from entering, especially those who have worked in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Look up a February 2017 piece, “The visa ban is worse for journalism than you think”, by Shelley Hepworth in Columbia Journalism Review. Read also “Tyranny of the American Visa Regime”, by James Harkin, in The New York Times.
Even American journalists can be subject to long demeaning interrogations at US airports. Laura Poitras, the US filmmaker behind the 2014 Oscar-winning Citizenfour, on NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, was detained dozens of times, every time, she tried to cross the US border.
A college mate of mine, an all-American white guy, was detained and asked Alice-in-Wonderland type of absurd questions on his return because he had taught for years as a philosophy professor at a university in Cairo.
Last year, respected Mexican reporter Martin Mendez Pineda was denied entry to a journalism event in Washington because he had received death threats for covering police corruption and violence in his hometown and it was feared he could try to seek US asylum.
The White House under Donald Trump has selectively banned domestic reporters from press briefings and other events. Targets include CNN.
I’ve run out of space to discuss Britain’s love of the free press.
Look up Canadian journalist Lauren Southern, American alt-right commentator Brittany Pettibone and Scottish comedian Mark Meechan, aka, Count Dankula. And Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, anyone?