Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Another of those exotic young things.... The BBC has been highlighting the account of former Palestinian hostage Kate Burton.

Of course they're keen to give us the background: she 'grew up in Belgium', she 'speaks Arabic'. Ah, perfect, perfect. She's well, a young female 'human rights worker'. Maybe she even speaks arabic in a non-laughable way.

I am sure many of us just think: Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall... Kate Burton- another (we are coached to think) telegenic product of one of the (if not the) great causes of our time. True, she worked for a slightly more academic organisation than Hurndall and Corrie (there is an aside on the website about sewage issues, for instance) but it is no different in outlook, only in tone.

According to the BBC she's even human: she 'lost it' with the hostage takers. But they just leave it in this picturesque celluloid ether waiting for the obligatory film director's interest.

The fact is though there are ample facts missed out by the BBC (and others, but the BBC gives her the sought-after formal gloss- nice pic, btw). Human Rights worker she may have been, but for which humans' rights? A run-through of the statements at the website of her Al Mezan 'employers' reveals an exclusively and chauvinistically pro-Palestinian stance. No mention of that one on the BBC.

The reason, therefore, she lost it, could be seen in a different light when one postulates that she felt that the terrorists owed her one for being on their side in the conflict. Absent recognition of that, she lost it. One interpretation of course, but one we're entitled to as much as we are to the Gladys Aylward made-up treatment. Unless facts are unpacked, interpretations are limited.

Going further, one might note the kind of detail picked up by David Vance via the Irish media: it turns out Ms Burton had helped out in Cuba, too- a picture begins to emerge - working shoulder to shoulder with a Sinn Fein activist.. er councillor.

The Beeb knows we like the glamour (though actually I find none of this stuff glamorous, only pathetic), and they're only to happy to give her the Gladys Aylward treatment. But they know much better than that- and they're sitting on that knowledge because it suits their news agenda. It figures. The Honest Reporting awards summarised reasons for the BBC's victory in the Dishonest Reporting Awards, 2005 by referring to:

...a pattern of naivete, dishonesty, forcing facts conform to a narrow worldview and, arguably, a desire to inappropriately influence events

Oh, I beg to differ. I think the desire is unarguable. I am only gratified when I notice it failing to be consummated.

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