March 31, 2006

"You'll pretty much say anything to stay alive because you expect people will understand these aren't your words."

The hostage point of view. We can't ask for more. We can imagine a bolder hero who would do more. But we should speak no ill of the person who does less.


Uncle Jimbo said...

She did absolutely no wrong in making this video. Of course it was coerced, and nothing she said or did while under threat of death by homicidal nutcases reflects on her.


She survived and defying the jihadis would have served no purpose. If she were to mae supportive statements about the terrorists now that she is free, different game. But I'm happy she is home alive.


Uncle J

JP said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jennifer said...

The bolder hero we imagine only lets down different people. Their family, for example.

A flag is only cloth, a bible is only paper and words are only words. She did what she had to do and that impresses the heck out of me!

Gaius Arbo said...

I haven't really seen criticism of her, only questoning what was going on.

Personally, I think she did the right thing. She is not a soldier and not duty bound not to submit.
(Even soldiers have a duty to resist, not to commit suicide).

Pat Patterson said...

I imagine most of admire and maybe even wish to be like Nathan Hale but when the time comes we find that we are not made of sterner stuff. But we do have the necessary "hard men" to make up for the lack of patriotism or nerve that the rest of us might fall prey.

Wickedpinto said...

the bolder hero we imagine only lets down different people. Their family, for example.

A flag is only cloth, a bible is only paper and words are only words. She did what she had to do and that impresses the heck

to paraphrase Orlando Bloom from "city of god" "You have taught me much about religion father."

McCain, and Stansfield aren't hero's for ignoring who they are for personal comfort. Stansfield, in particular, TRULY engaged in feigned martyrdom for the purposes of threat, knowing that if the highest ranking dies in the custody of captors, the LOWEST, would be allowed to say as they please, knowing that the man, who later won the medal of honor gave his life, so that everyone else could sin, and use him as an example.

Carrol, the "heroic" (which she wasn't, but she was VERY BALLSY!) journalist could have stood for a thing, but she didn't. Thousands of men in uniform did, have, and will, she isn't the hero, they are, she's an unfortunate 3rd party player who isn't required to accomplish much. Lets hope she ends the propoganda once she hits the US, though she won't, thats not proffitable journalism.

Danny said...

It's very easy to take the high and mighty stance when your not facing the possibilty of having your head sawed off.

Daryl Herbert said...

Try to understand the viewpoint of the LGF crowd:

They strongly believe that the American forces are the good guys, doing good, as are our allies, and that the insurgents are extremely bad. To them, the war is entirely justified on moral grounds and fighting the insurgents is good because the insurgents are evil.

They believe the elites in the mainstream media here in America don't share that first view (which is probably correct) and that the media are evenhanded toward the terrorists. So there is a distrust of and distate for anyone in the media in the first place. The media, Jimmy Carter, the UN, etc.--all sorts of leftist institutions are against them on that first point.

They are cynical because they've seen other "hostages" who are really leftist political operatives who go there to get captured to help the insurgency with their propaganda, or even to secure "ransom" payments for their captors (that some European governments may have made).

They are bitter because as much as they say the war is going well enough, it's not going as well as they would have liked. And they see our media as doing two things: 1 undermining the war effort and 2 saying "I told you so"

None of that justifies grouping Carrol in with the phony hostages or the terrorists, or making her out as a bad person for doing what she had to do to survive. It's not fair to judge someone in a situation like that. Who are we to demonize an American woman journalist who wouldn't make a spectacle of her own death to serve our propaganda needs?

If one held Nazi death camp survivors to the same standard some people are holding her, one might think the Nazis were the heroes of WWII. Good people do things to survive, desperate things, often much worse than making video propaganda that is transparently coerced.

Some terrorists and terrorist-lovers in the Muslim world will take comfort in those coerced videos. Why? Because many Muslims have serious problems with truth, reality and reason. But that's their shortcoming, not hers.

Synova said...

I'm with Uncle Jimbo (unsuprisingly, but not just because I'm a suck-up.)

It's not a moral weakness to cooperate while under the control of people who will kill you or torture you. And she's right that she *ought* to expect people to understand that the words you speak are not your words.

Nor should she expect a sane person to believe her when she says she was treated well. (As someone other than me pointed out... her first statements were probably to reassure her family. In that sort of situation, even if I were raped daily and beaten, I'd say I hadn't been for the sake of those who love me.) She witnessed the murder of her translator, was kidnapped, forced her to make a video, and was held captive with a threat of death hanging over her for three months.

She shouldn't have to worry that some moron doesn't *get* that just because she doesn't say it.

And I don't think that big tough fellas with "how to survive captivity" training would be so quick to condemn either, even if it was their buddy kidnapped instead of a female journalist who hadn't had any of that preparation, because they've got a realistic view of what *precisely* the captive has to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Daryl -- do you have any links to reliable reports of the "fake hostages" you describe, who get themselves kidnapped as a way of generating ransom money for their captors? I hadn't heard that before, and it sounds pretty far-fetched to me.

Daryl Herbert said...


With regard to ransom payments, the top search results here are related news stories:

With regard to them being in league with their kidnappers or at least wanting to be taken hostage, here are a few examples of news articles or right-wing comment on that theme:

see comments section for "fake hostage(s)":

It's a pretty common meme, although it's risky to blog about because 1 it's a conspiracy theory and 2 it's very easy to come off as insensitive (or worse) to someone who might be a real victim

Aspasia M. said...

Try to understand the viewpoint of the LGF crowd:

Did commenters joke about gang raping Jill Carroll?

Let's understand this - they are sociopaths. They lack human empathy.

FXKLM said...

I don't think anyone blames her for making statements favoring her captors while she was in their custody. For a while, it looked like she was making similar statements after she was safely released, which would have been objectionable. It's unfortunate that some of the reports about her situation were so unclear.

I know I didn't think very highly of her until I read this story. I regret that.

Anonymous said...

Daryl -- did you even read the linked articles from the Telegraph and My Pet Jawa? It's true, both are about kidnappings that may have been faked, but in both cases the accusation was that they were faked by people living in Europe to enrich themselves. There was nothing about hostages doing this to transfer money to the insurgency.

I'll take that as confirmation that there's nothing to this rumor, other than another example of nastiness from people who want to imagine the worst about their political opponents.

Beth said...

gj, can't you be more understanding toward the LGF patriots when they just make crap up and then, like lab monkeys, fling their crap at everyone that walks into view?

Daryl Herbert said...

So after I post all of those links, I'm accused of just making stuff up?

1 - Admit that it is likely that non-Iraqis have paid ransoms to recover hostages, and further that this could be a valuable source of revenue for insurgents, in addition to having PR value.

2 - Admit that everyone who is informed about Iraq knows how common kidnappings are (and thus would know the danger they would face by going there).

3 - Admit that they go because of extreme religious/political motivations.

4 - Admit that they go despite knowing the odds, which means they are practically "asking" to be taken hostage.

5 - Admit that it's only a short step from that to literally asking to be taken hostage.

What was the "Christian Peacemaker Team" doing in Iraq, except trying to get captured to help the insurgent PR?

What were the three Japanese people doing in Iraq, except trying to get captured to help the insurgent PR?

There are much easier ways to get money than teaming up with insurgents. I find it hard to believe someone would commit so much effort to such a small reward. It might cover expenses.

Enough of the former hostages have condemned the US more than their ex-captors, which raises further suspicions. Who are these people? Why are they so nuts? What are they really up to?

Danny said...

Daryl, you fail to give a motive for these people who travel to one of the most dangerous cities in the world, coordinate to be kidnapped and spend three months in the captivity of their insurgants. It's not enough to say that they weren't politically aligned with the Bush administration on Iraq, thats a demographic that includes the majority of Americans.


Jennifer said...

Wickedpinto: You've thoroughly confused me. IIRC, John McCain was also compelled to make a video similar to the one Jill Carroll did. Does that make him less of a hero?

Regardless. I didn't call her a hero. I don't think saving your own life necessarily makes you a hero.

My point was that the bolder hero who in the same situation chooses to spit in the face of his captors and give up his life solely to avoid making a propaganda video isn't necessarily doing the most heroic thing, either. Just the most glorious.

Maybe I'm biased because I have a dog in the fight. But if my husband chose to lay his life down in Iraq, not to preserve opsec, not to put mission first, not to accomplish anything but simply so he didn't make a video that everyone would know was BS anyway, I'd be pretty upset. Maybe that's selfish.

michael farris said...

A lot of this discussion seems based on the idea that some people believe things that hostages say when their captors videotape them. Of course nothing a hostage says during captivity (and often for some time after) can be taken at face value.

And IMO there's nothing dishonorable about appearing in a video and mouthing what your captors want.

Are there people who are stupid enough to believe what a hostage says?

Are their captors stupid enough to believe there are people that stupid?

I'm actually thinking the whole scenario is a meta-message. Captors to foreigners: stay out of Iraq because if you come here, we might kidnap and humiliate you.

sarah said...

Certainly there are people "stupid enough" to believe that she meant what she said. It may be a matter of ignorance rather than stupidity, but I don't think the kidnappers would be making the videos if they didn't have a use for them. Thousands of people in the Middle East will be influenced by this video, that's the whole point. Information warfare is real, so let's not kid ourselves that it makes no difference.

That doesn't mean Ms. Carroll should be condemned. I agree with Ann that it is not appropriate to speak ill of someone who took the action necessary to save her life.

And I don't think any of us know what action we would take if we were in that position unless we are actually faced with it.

But I hope I would not cooperate. I think it would be more honorable to refuse to cooperate with the enemy's information warfare. People have been known to have that much courage. Fabrizio Quatroci, for example, who wrecked the video that was made of his murder so it could not be used as propaganda. I don't like the implication in some of these comments that such things are just imaginary.

Jennifer said...

Sarah: You're right. Fabrizio Quattrochi is a great example of what can be accomplished through resistance. I didn't think it all the way through.

I still think living to fight another day is honorable as well.

michael farris said...

"Fabrizio Quatroci, for example, who wrecked the video that was made of his murder so it could not be used as propaganda."

Obviously, _someone_ thought it could be used as propoganda or it would have been destroyed and never seen the light of day.

Beth said...

Daryl, I didn't accuse you of making anything up. Your first message, the "let's try to see the nutcases' point of view" one, was putting forth the LGF crowd's position, I gathered from your phrasing. And they make crap up. It now appears perhaps you believe some of it, too. That's too bad. Why would Christian missionaries be in Iraq? Oh, obviously to be kidnapped! It's not like there's any other purpose, no volunteer work to be done. We're not at war with the Iraqi people. Peace groups have motivations to work with Iraquis rebuilding their nation. To assume (and insist others "admit") that they only reason is to help the insurgents shows that yes, you make stuff up.

The Exalted said...


so the war is going much better than the big bad media is letting us see, but at the same time anyone who goes to iraq is "literally asking to be kidnapped"?

interesting disconnect from logic

and to anyone questioning this poor woman's "honor," i'm sure you'd be quaking in your pennyloafers if you so much as saw someone in a turban across the street

Danny said...


I, too, hope that put in Carrol's position I would resist and Rambo my way out of the prison compound doing fancy kung fu moves on my captors. But I also realize that to do so, when concurrantly offered freedom in exchange for speaking in front of a camera for a few minutes, would require a large dose of PCP.

Despite how noble it sounds, there are only an extremely miniscule amount of people in the world who are willing to die for their country. I don't mean willing to fight wars for their country, I mean choosing a certain and gruesome televised execution over potentially disrespecting a small self-righteous sect of your contry.

Andy Levy said...

Uncle Jim said it perfectly. The rest of it is just posturing.

sarah said...

Jennifer: Yes, I agree with you. I tried hard to say that I don't think there's anything wrong with saving one's own life. I really think it's a matter of apples and oranges. Both actions are honorable, both have consequences, one is relatively easy, one is very, very difficult.

I also think that we shouldn't really assume we know what all the potential causes and effects are here. We don't know that she would have been killed if she hadn't cooperated, and some people who do cooperate are killed anyway. (And we don't know whether a ransom was paid, and apparently plenty of them have been.)

The issue is complex and difficult. I don't quite understand where the snarky comments are coming from. I didn't claim to be courageous myself, I simply wanted to make some points that I thought rounded out the discussion.

Aspasia M. said...

The issue is complex and difficult. I don't quite understand where the snarky comments are coming from.

I'd suggest reading Robert Cormier's book, After the First Death.