“Attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall in his grave….Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.”
–Arthur Miller, “Death of a Salesman”
Let us pause from the frantic pursuit of headlines and fascination at the latest novelty to acknowledge some real heroes. Not the self-publicizing Western intellectuals, academics, and artists who preen as they echo every dominant fashion; not the Middle Eastern extremists, praised for terrorist acts or dreaming of bloodbaths and the creation of tyrannical regimes.
I refer to those Syrian opposition activists engaged in rescuing the wounded and bringing in food and medical supplies to besieged cities, especially Homs. One observer explained it this way:
“They are just ordinary guys who did not pick up weapons but decided to evacuate injured people….Some of them have basic medical training….Some of them are just guys who can carry heavy weights.”
Forty of these people tried to get four wounded Western journalists out of Homs, after two other reporters were killed there. They were ambushed and thirteen of them lost their lives, after having earlier gotten dozens of other injured Syrians to safety. Three of the four journalists had to turn back to Homs; one escaped to Lebanon after four of his escorts were killed.
This is not to ignore the thousands of other oppositionists, almost all of them unarmed protesters — international estimates now count about 7,500 — who have been killed by the regime’s forces. Roughly 100 more people are being slain daily.
They receive virtually no international support. The world ignores the repression in Syria just as it effectively ignored the repression in Iran. There are no protests in the streets of Western capitals; no meetings or teach-ins on Western campuses. Terrorists can expect enthusiastic support; the nonviolent opposition in Iran and the largely nonviolent opposition in Syria cannot.
The mere specter of possible attacks on civilians in Libya prompted a huge international involvement, resulting in support for an armed opposition which did mistreat and murder civilians, and now a regime that is passive in the face of more killings.
And now these Syrian civilians have given their lives to protect Western journalists. Naturally, the opposition wanted the reporters to be there to record what’s going on. It is likely that the Syrian regime forces, whose intelligence is quite good, deliberately targeted the press center for mortar attack to kill the foreign journalists and shut down any coverage from inside the country.
Where’s the outrage? Where’s the deadlocked UN? Where are the noisy activists? Where is the “duty to protect” Obama administration so eager to help in the overthrow of U.S. allies but so timid where America’s enemies are concerned?
Be ashamed; be very ashamed.
Someday, I hope, the names of these people who sacrificed their lives will be published and given the recognition as heroes they so fully deserve.
Please also read my article “The New Middle East: Arab versus non-Arab Muslims; Sunni versus Shia.”