Cultural Insensitivity 9/11: When Journalists should not have an Opinion

Monday morning, getting started on the week.

Catching up on emails and media coverage getting a feel for what’s happening in the world. I subscribe to blogs sent automatically by email. It’s a professional interest if you will, seeing what fellow writers are working on, their thoughts on world media.

Some mornings I’ll save them to read later over coffee, sometimes I dive right in. That’s what happened this morning. My colleague over at adventuresinexpatland has today written an article entitled 9/11 Cultural Insensitivity 101.

It is written in response to one published in the Sunday Times (UK) Culture Section by David James Smith, Remember the Fallen, about those who jumped from the Twin Towers to escape the fires. (I find the title repugnant on so many levels.) Mr Smith is actually a good writer but is no stranger to controversy having written about the James Bulger case, Nelson Mandela and race issues. He is honest that some of his writing is provocative, seeing it, ‘ …  as a grenade lobbed into the heart of middle England‘.

All well and good in general terms. It can be useful to give people an intellectual kick in the butt now and again, offer a different perspective.

Then there some subjects that are private, sacrosanct and worthy of respect. They are not newsworthy in the real sense of the word. They are things we instinctively regard as private, personal, that should not be intruded on unless there is a higher motive.

Linda Janssen at adventuresinexpatland is a smart, culturally aware, politically savvy woman. She never writes or speaks without fully understanding the impact her written or spoken words may have on those around her. She is a powerhouse of energy, pragmatic, razor-sharp.

Whilst part of me does not wish to publicise David James Smith’s article, I found Linda’s response to it more compelling and worthy than Smith’s original words and feel her voice should be heard to balance his views.

On 9/11 she was in the Pentagon where American Airlines Flight 77 hit. She worked in combatting terrorism. I think that gives her the authority to have an opinion. She has always maintained a dignified silence on 9/11, her respect and regard for lost colleagues and their broken families paramount.

That she felt compelled to respond to the Sunday Times article at all says much about her ethics and moral code.

I ask that you click on the link and read Linda’s article, I’m only sorry she had to write it in response to another.

And for the record, yes I have read Smith’s article.



About wordgeyser

Our anglo/american family used to live in four countries (USA, Canada, UK and the Netherlands) on two continents, separated by distance, time zones, circumstance and cultures. It has been a scary, enriching, challenging place to be. The only things guaranteed to get us through were a sense of humour and the amazing people met along the way. . . This year everything changed with a move for us from the Netherlands, – and a move along with us for our son and his wife from the UK – to Houston, Texas, the same city as our daughter. With our youngest in Vancouver, Canada, we are now all living on the same continent. How this happened, and more importantly why, will be the subject of this ongoing blog...
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3 Responses to Cultural Insensitivity 9/11: When Journalists should not have an Opinion

  1. As you, I too am outraged by the insensitive article by David James Smith. In my opinion The Sunday Times should publish Linda’s article/post in its entirety in their next issue. She emailed it to them this morning. We’ll see.

  2. Sheila says:

    This story is incredible. To bandy words like suicide as though it was an option. Those victims were murdered just as if they had been shot which would have been kinder. There was no escape from death though they were instinctively running away. To want to cause more pain and grief to families with the stigma of suicide and loss of financial benefits to is beyond belief. It is also very, very sick.

  3. You have no idea what this means to me. It’s nice to shed a tear because I’m grateful for such a supportive friend, rather than for the pain the Smith article causes. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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