Today Colorado Confidential published a story by Kate Bernuth about a controversy developing at a small private Denver school. It starts as a typical foray into agenda journalism for the heavily Left-leaning site:
At a tiny international school in southeast Denver, a conflict is playing out that reflects, in a microcosm, the wider divisions in American society as the nation enters the sixth year of a bloody, unpopular war.
A display of photographs and a statement by the Iranian artist in the halls of Colorado International School has caused a dust-up between administrators and an outraged parent who accuses the school of spreading “anti-American propaganda.”
Every month at this language-immersion school of 44 students, most of whom are in pre-school and kindergarten, the customs, geography and language of one nation are highlighted with a special presentation. This month, to coincide with Persian New Year, the focus is on Iran, and the school invited Farhad Vakili Tabar to display photographs from his homeland.
Near the photos of the Iranian children is one image of an Iraqi boy named Ali Rekaad, a brief story of his life, and the date and time that he and his entire family were killed by a U.S. bomb. Underneath is artist Farhad Vakili Tabar’s stated purpose for the collection of photographs:
“By showing the portraits of some Iranian children, I hope to bring up the faces of thousands of Iraqi children who have died, become orphans, handicapped or homeless in this war.” [emphasis added]
Moving beyond the clear agenda journalism in the story’s opening line, here is a picture of Tabar’s two posted writings – sent to me by the aggrieved parent – that stirred the controversy:
These three images break the first writing, a sad and moving account of a young life lost, into readable segments:
The second writing is broken into two readable segments [I have blacked out the phone number at bottom]:
While Mr. Tabar exhibits compassion and a skilled photographic eye, he also displays an all-too-common inability to make critical and meaningful moral distinctions.
The question of whether young children should have been exposed to this display is a valid one for parents to decide. Nevertheless, from this point in the story, Colorado Confidential takes a blind leap from a parent’s legitimate concerns into a stunning allegation:
Michael Thau, who says he speaks for other furious parents, calls the display traumatic and inappropriate for children, who shouldn’t be learning about the murder of innocent children at the hands of U.S. soldiers — people who could be members of their own family.
“This has nothing to do with one’s perspective on the war and occupation,” Thau said. “The whole purpose of the exhibit is to feel bad about and learn about dead children in Iraq reportedly killed by U.S. forces – that’s enough for a lot of people to see this as an extremely volatile, one-sided, half-truth approach.” [emphasis added]
The issue is with the word I highlighted: murder. For a purported news story, that’s quite a loaded term to insert uncritically and without quotes into the middle of a descriptive sentence. Does Colorado Confidential believe that American military personnel in Iraq are murderers? The story makes an explosive claim without even an example to back up its grave and startling assertion.
But I have to believe the problem lies in ignorance, not malice. Perhaps, Colorado Confidential is unaware of the significant moral difference between an accidental and tragic killing of innocent human life that results from the chaos of war, and murder – which implies an intentional (and in many cases, premeditated) action. For all the moral equivalence embodied in Tabar’s posted writings, even he did not use the term murder.
The most generous interpretation I can make is that Colorado Confidential’s writers and editors need an upgrade either in basic literacy or in moral sensitivity. Or else, the Lefty publication has a sloppy, less-than-rigorous editorial process – which should be a concern to some.
Recently, liberal Rocky Mountain News columnist Jason Salzman wrote a piece in which he compared Colorado Confidential to its rough equivalent on the Right, Face the State. While finding several points of criticism for Face the State, he found only one minor point of contention with Colorado Confidential.
Salzman then wrote:
Colorado Confidential’s content looks a lot more like professional journalism as I know it.
I wonder if Salzman would adjust his conclusion at all in light of today’s revelation. Or maybe this kind of moral equivalence has become well-accepted enough with certain major media outlets that it really doesn’t distinguish Colorado Confidential from “professional journalism.”
On second thought, maybe Face the State should take Salzman’s remark as a compliment.