When CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by a mob on the streets of Cairo in February, Israeli-American journalist Nir Rosen had a characteristically crude response. “Yes yes its wrong what happened to her,” he wrote on the social networking site Twitter. “Of course. I don’t support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too.”
The root of Rosen’s rage was his belief that Logan (and, apparently, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who was also attacked) was overly deferential to the American government. Specifically, he faulted her for defending General Stanley McChrystal, the former American commander in Afghanistan who was forced to step down last year after Rolling Stone published disparaging remarks his staff had made about officials in the Obama administration. “Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger,” Rosen wrote.
Within hours of posting these remarks—for which the word “insensitive,” as their author later acknowledged them to be, doesn’t even begin to do justice—Rosen had become but the latest, self-inflicted casualty of Internet over-exposure. He promptly offered his resignation from the New York University Center on Law and Security, where he had been a fellow. “Nir Rosen is always provocative,” center director Karen Greenberg said, “but he crossed the line with his comments about Lara Logan.”
It was only a matter of time before another elite institution offered Rosen a job, and hardly a surprise that it would be the London School of Economics—last seen having to apologize for taking millions of dollars from Muammar Qaddafi’s sadistic son Saif and for establishing a program to train Libyan civil servants. But two days after the news was announced, LSE dropped him as a fellow from its Center for the Study of Global Governance.
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The real scandal is that it was Rosen’s Tweets which his sponsors deemed to have “crossed the line.” For “provocative” does not even begin to describe Rosen’s oeuvre, which has been published in the pages of prestige outlets like the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone. Rosen’s breeziness toward the subject of sexual assault is of a piece with his politics, which are supportive of religious fanatics for whom the sexual abuse and subjugation of women is routine. That it has taken a handful of puerile missives about rape to threaten his career demonstrates the moral and intellectual rot at the institutions and publications patronized by the Western left-wing intelligentsia.
On the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks last year, Rosen tweeted that it was “hard to disagree with much of the Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan Statement Regarding The Anniversary Of The 9/11 Event.” He has said that Hezbollah “is not a terrorist organization.” Rather, he claims, it “has protected Lebanon’s sovereignty and resisted American and Israeli plans for a New Middle East. It’s also among the most democratic of Lebanon’s political movements and one of the few groups with a message of social justice and anti-imperialism.” Rosen has embedded with Hezbollah and the Taliban; he credited the latter’s “Pashtun code of hospitality” for their decision not to turn Osama bin Laden over to the United States.
Rosen has written that “the Iraqi resistance,” the band of mass-murdering criminals notorious for drilling nails into their victims’ bodies and sending suicide bombers into crowded markets, “fights to liberate Iraq.” As for the threat that al-Qaeda poses to the United States, Rosen told the Russian government–funded propaganda station Russia Today that it amounts to “Zero. Absolutely Zero.”
Rosen reserves special animus for Israel, an “abomination” whose “existence is a blight unto the nations.” In remarks reminiscent of those uttered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rosen openly wished to “speed its demise.” Commenting on Chanukah, which commemorates the uncanny survival of the Jewish people against the Syrian-Greek empire, Rosen wrote, “Just think, if only the Greeks had been better at counterinsurgency we wouldn’t have these problems today.” Photographs on his Facebook page depict a young boy, presumably his own son, in a Hezbollah T-shirt.
While contributing to the full roster of America’s prestige journalistic outlets, Rosen enjoyed a fellowship at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank that, according to its website, “invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.” It is a testament to the sorry state of American liberalism that a man with such reactionary views—openly cheering for religious fascists from Lebanon to Iraq and Afghanistan—would be so welcome in the pages, halls, and airwaves of so-called “progressive” institutions. If the editors of the publications that publish Rosen, or the directors of the liberal think tanks tripping over themselves to attach their name to his work, were ever bothered by these views, they certainly never showed it. Indeed, by their continued publishing and employment of Rosen, they implicitly endorsed them.
Rosen apologized profusely for his remarks, in the disingenuous and self-flagellating fashion that has become a hallmark of our confession culture. This false contrition is designed for nothing else than the rescue of a fast-falling career; there can be no sincerity to his allegedly enlightened view of women while he simultaneously glamorizes armed “resistance” to America. To wit, see the interview he gave to Mediabistro’s Betsy Rothstein shortly after resigning from NYU, in particular this flippant remark: “The last eight years of working in the Middle East, parts of Africa and Asia (like Afghanistan) and in Mexico only further outraged me, because I have seen firsthand how brutally women are treated there. And we are only a little bit better in the West.”
Rosen has pledged to stop using Twitter. But it’s the message, not the medium, that did him in.