David Calling

Marie Colvin, R. I. P.

Marie Colvin was one of the small band of absolutely fearless reporters. She was determined to find out what was going on in the front line and tell the world about it. Some are attracted by danger, but she obviously wanted to understand and present the sufferings of other people. She had lost an eye some years ago in the course of covering the suppression of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. By hook or crook she would have found some way to enter Syria at this moment of the country’s ordeal at the hands of the bloody Bashar Assad. The inhuman shelling of Homs by Assad’s stormtroopers provided the sort of atrocity that she was in the habit of exposing. Homs is the center of Bashar’s campaign to keep power by means of unlimited repression. It seems that she was sheltering in a house there when Syrian artillery opened fire and killed her.

This death brought back memories of Nicholas Tomalin, another fearless and professional reporter, who made a reputation in the Vietnam War. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War he was on the Golan Heights. A heat-seeking missile found the car he had hired and in which he happened to be sitting. It happens that I had spent the previous day with him, and had listened to his mockery of journalists who run unnecessary risks just to prove how macho they are.

These two are numbered along with the many innocent victims of brutish Syrians. A special aura of regret surrounds those who have sacrificed their lives in pursuit of information, the life-blood of democracy. Both these professionals were working for the Sunday Times of London, which says something about that newspaper.


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