When I first saw the photo of James Foley kneeling in the desert, it made me angry. It filled me with hatred. It was an immediate reaction to a photo that dramatically underscored the horror of what was to come: hostage, on bended knee. Captor cloaked in black, standing behind the victim, in an almost father-like and kind manner.
I didn’t know James Foley. I have never knowingly read or consumed his journalism. I barely have the right to discuss this on my blog, because there’s no relevance to my opinion on this subject. But I feel compelled because I felt – all of us felt – a terrible loss and a sinking feeling of foreboding about his execution. This poor, brave man was just doing his job to report the news. He was just a working class hero telling us the truth about the conflict in Syria. One of a vanishing breed.
And I think that’s what makes me most outraged.
James Foley’s murder was news. But the video is disgusting propaganda. How is that hard to understand, and why are news organizations (looking at you, US News and World Report) choking on this fundamental tenant of journalism? Just remember the reason why Foley and his peers were in Syria: to bring an objective view to significant world events, so that people around the world could know the facts and the stories that may matter to them. According to GlobalPost, Foley’s “objective was to chronicle the suffering in Syria, where more than 170,000 people have been killed.”
A terrorist organization’s video is not that. Instead, I propose that we take this moment in time, when the world is thinking about James Foley, to appreciate the work he did and the stories he told. That’s a far better tribute than watching a YouTube video posted by a group of thugs in the desert.