Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Crisis

I've found the reporting of the 'hostage crisis' over the past few days intensely irritating. For one thing - and let's get this straight - for the moment, they're not 'hostages', they're prisoners. To say that is not to lend any justification to Iranian actions (we don't know who's right about the measurement of territorial boundaries), but it is to use a rather more impartial term. But the word 'hostage' fits the narrative better - since, as we all know, the Iranians just can't help taking hostages. History shows. They're always taking hostages. It's what they do. They don't need a reason. They take hostages because they're uncivilised and volatile and they hate, hate, hate. All this is implied - it's there under the surface - in media reports. The British military's story is taken at face value, while the Iranian version of events - that British military personnel were arrested for making an incursion into Iranian waters - is treated with high scepticism.

Now I don't trust the Iranian government's version of events anymore than I trust that of the British government. Who knows? None of us.

What I am quite sure about, however, is that driving forward the media's shrieking sensationalised 'international crisis' mongering is the tacit assumption that we simply can't have this uncivilised nation taking British people - yes BRITISH people (!!!!!) - captive. That's the real scandal.

The thing that really gets me, however, is all the stuff about the female 'hostage'. It's incredibly sexist, really isn't it? The assumption seems to be, firstly, that a woman (being by nature a weak creature who needs male protection and etc) simply cannot cope in that situation (although, thankfully, there'll be some strong British lads with her to give her a slap to snap her out of it if she starts getting too hysterical). Secondly, it seems that keeping her capitive is an incredibly beastly thing to do - because she's a mother. Think of the children(!!!) the media implore. Well, aren't any of the other captives parents as well? What about their children? Aren't they worried too? Further, this lady has been away on a ship (possibly for months on end) for goodness sake - she's in the fucking navy!!! It's not like the Iranians have directly snatched her away from her kids. The media seem to be quite happy to have female sailors zipping around in heavily armed gunboats in the Gulf - but now a female in the armed forces has been captured, we're back to the 19th Century and the papers are working themselves up into a frenzy because a helpless, blushing, English rose is in mortal danger (which, of course, she isn't).

Now, like any other half-way civilised human being, I hope no harm comes to these captives and I would like them to be released soon. I'd rather they hadn't been taken captive. In fact, come to think of it, I'd rather the Royal Navy weren't pissing around in the Gulf. But let's think on this for a minute. Does anyone really think that any harm is going to come to them? I can't see it. Does anyone really think that the Iranians are going to hold them for years on end? I can't see that happening either.

When this little crisis is over and when the bombs and missiles start falling on Iran, let's see if the papers have pictures of Iranian women on their front pages and headlines imploring us to think about the mothers and their little children.

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