I’m very happy that Jessica Lynch is safe. I’m also impressed at the rescue operation which succeeded where others had failed (resulting in nine marine deaths). But I think that William Saletan in Slate asks some good hard questions about the media circus that surrounded her rescue.
I don’t mean to be callous or unpatriotic, but why are we celebrating so loudly? Before this war began, Jessica Lynch was safe and unharmed. Now she’s safe and harmed. She went into Iraq with a 15-member company. She came out alone. Her company didn’t take its casualties while fighting for a bridge or an airfield. It took them because it made a wrong turn.
Worst of all, Lynch isn’t one of the millions of Iraqis we’re supposed to be liberating. She’s one of the putative liberators. We’ve said this war isn’t an invasion. We’ve said it isn’t for us but for Iraq. And yet, while the average Iraqi’s liberation gets no Pentagon fanfare and no air time, the liberation of Jessica Lynch is a 24-hour mediathon. We’re celebrating her rescue for the worst of all reasons: because she’s American.
Personally, I think it is much more than this. I think it goes to long-standing fears (and fantasies) about what happens to white women at the hands of Arabs. Here are some old paitings from the “orientalist school” which show just what I mean: