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CNN Fires Journalist for Having an Opinion

This story is small potatoes, but it got me angry enough to want to launch into a quick rant. Chez Pazienza’s rant on the Huffington Post is better, but mine will be shorter.

CNN’s well-respected Middle Eastern affairs editor, Octavia Nasr, was fired last week for something she tweeted. A member of Hezbollah, “Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah” (with a name like that he must be pure evil) died last Sunday and Nasr tweeted that he was “One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot”. This is poorly-worded to be sure, but that’s the nature of Twitter—you are limited to 140 characters so there’s not much room for attaching caveats and explanations.

After being pounced upon by neoconservatives, Nasr wrote an article explaining that she was referring to the cleric’s liberal views on the treatment of women in Islamic culture, e.g. that honor killings are wrong. But by then it was too late and CNN fired her because she was now tainted as a terrorist-sympathizer.

More infuriating than the story itself was the comments section. The Huffington Post is pretty liberal, but plenty of conversatives go to comment and I couldn’t believe how many people were blasting her for saying anything positive about anyone associated with Hezbollah—they were quite literally accusing her of treason.

This is what’s wrong with so many Americans—they have this overwhelming need to classify everyone as either good or evil, and will tolerate absolutely no nuance. This Muslim cleric, because we was involved with Hezbollah—classified by the US and the EU as a terrorist organization—must be completely evil and anyone who says anything positive about him must be evil too. It doesn’t matter that he was also a champion of women’s rights and that this is what the positive comment was for. Terrorist = Evil and that’s all there is to it.

These ignorant assholes have to realize that there are fucking shades of gray in this world, and that as soon as you demonize a person or group of people as “pure evil” you lose any chance of actually working with or influencing them. This cleric was exactly the kind of Muslim leader those of us in the West need to work with: an open-minded guy who we may disagree with on 95% of the issues, but who is at least willing to stand up to his own religious organization for what he believes is right.

But some think the only way to deal with “these people” is just to kill them, never mind the fact that you’re just making martyrs and new terrorists. CNN had a perfect opportunity to raise consciousness about this kind of thing, and instead they buckled under the weight of conservative pressure and ran scared. They are pathetic.

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