Mark Steyn

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A Tale of Two Rapes

Yesterday, the Police Chief of Charlottesville, Virginia gave a remarkable press conference, the upshot of which was, as the New York Times headline put it:

Police Find No Evidence Of Rape At University Of Virginia Fraternity

Not only was there "no evidence" that the horrific gang rape at the frat house party took place, there was "no evidence" that the party took place. Indeed, there was "no evidence" that the man "Jackie" described as her date that night even exists.

And yet last fall Rolling Stone ran a 9,000-word story on the "horrific gang rape" that spurred a media frenzy about the alleged "epidemic" of campus rape across America. Even as the story disintegrated, the feminist lobby took the view that "Jackie" was a brave woman who had performed a useful service. As I wrote last year:

That's the purpose of "news" as social engineering. The great, messy, contradictory, complexities of reality have to be streamlined and organized into the half-a-dozen approved narratives of the age. At its most absurd, you wind up with "Jackie", the "victim" of the University of Virginia "gang" "rape", to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude for having the courage to come forward and raise awareness by "pulling back the curtain on rape" - even if behind the pulled-back curtain there was no actual rape going on.

And again:

"Even if she made up the story", she "pulled back the curtain on rape". And even if there was no rape going on behind the curtain she raised awareness of how rape culture is so prevalent that women are being traumatized into making up stories that they've been gang-raped by seven Phi Kappa Psi men even when they haven't been. The blogger Oliver Willis thinks it's "super dangerous" that the right is seizing on the implosion of Rolling Stone's story to insist that "all rape allegations can be ignored". But isn't it the left that's trivializing real rape by according fake rape the same protected status? After all, if Jackie is incredibly "brave" for "coming forward" to "pull back the curtain" on something that never happened, if "gang rape" no longer requires either rape or a gang, if it is not necessary to have actually been attacked, brutalized and sexually violated in order to be a rape victim, then what's the big deal if one has been?

The media have now moved on. At CNN, they're worried that the police report on the total lack of any evidence for any rape might deter rape victims from coming forward:

CNN reporter Sara Ganim agreed with one of Hostin's conclusions centered on her fear that "Jackie's" experience might lead other victims of sexual assault to stay quiet about their experiences. When too many women who are victims of sexual assault already refuse to come forward, her concerns are valid and should be shared by everyone.

"Other victims of sexual assault" is not quite le mot juste, given that there is no evidence that "Jackie" was ever assaulted by anybody at all. A better word would be actual victims of sexual assault. And, if real victims of real sexual assault are deterred from coming forward because a fabulist's pitiful fantasy was made front-page news by a gullible ideological media, that ought to occasion some circumspection from those, like Ms Ganim and Ms Hostin, who made the fabulist a pin-up girl in the first place. If CNN et al want someone to blame for real rape victims being reluctant to come forward, they should try looking in the mirror.

Meanwhile, what of an actual rape victim who couldn't get her story told by CNN or anybody else? Breitbart reports:

CBS News 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan is back in the hospital in Washington, D.C., due to years-long complications stemming from the brutal sexual assault she endured in Egypt while covering the Arab Spring in early 2011...

"Very few people know how stoic and incredibly tough this lady is. In spite of everything she's had to face in the last two years, people have no idea the physical suffering she has been enduring due to the brutal sexual assault she encountered in Egypt during the Arab Spring while reporting for 60 Minutes," Ed Butowsky, a close friend and confidante of Lara and her family, told Breitbart News.

Lara Logan's "assault" - for some reason, the same people willing to expand the definition of "rape" to include utter fantasy are reluctant to apply the word to what happened to Miss Logan - at any rate, her "assault" took place in Tahrir Square just after Mubarak's resignation and at the height of the western media's delirious jubilation at the "Facebook Revolution". Jackie's "horrific gang rape" didn't happen, but to the media it's true because it fits the narrative. Lara's actual gang rape is true but to the media it didn't happen because it doesn't fit the narrative. As I wrote at the time:

Within minutes of Mubarak's resignation, the CBS reporter Lara Logan, covering events in Tahrir Square, was set upon by a 200-strong mob who stripped her, punched her, beat her with flagpoles, and subjected her to a half-hour sexual assault by multiple participants while shouting "Jew! Jew!" She's not a Jew, and she doesn't look the least bit like the hook-nosed stereotypes to which Arab cartoonists are so partial. But then, if you're the kind of Egyptian who thinks Mubarak is a "Zionist" and that the Mossad are putting GPS on sharks and sending them to terrorize sunbathers at Sharm el-Sheikh, she's close enough.

What's striking about this story is not so much that her own employer, CBS News, chose not to run it until over three days later - on the following Monday - but that in the intervening period they pumped out the same sappy drivel as everybody else - "Egypt's New Age Revolution" (60 Minutes), "Egypt Proved Change Is Possible, Sexy And Cool!" (CBS Sunday Morning) - even as they knew there was another side to the story, and that their own correspondent was lying in the hospital traumatised because of it.

If a CBS reporter had been sexually assaulted by a bunch of University of Virginia Phi Kappa Psi guys, would CBS News be running stories on how "sexy and cool" UVa fraternities are? That's basically what they and the rest of the media did in the Lara Logan case. And, unlike mythical UVa gang rapes, the treatment of women was central to the story, and one of the key indicators as to why the "Arab Spring" was a crock from Day One. Here's a little more from what I said four years ago:

In the first hour or two on Friday, I was just about the only guy on air pouring cold water on the approved hopeychangey narrative about young "freedom-loving" "democrats", and was reprimanded by "progressives" for pointing out correctly that there were very few women and even fewer uncovered women protesting on the streets of Cairo - even as the most famous uncovered woman in Tahrir Square was being set upon by a pack of savages. No such complicating factors were allowed to intrude on the delirious narcissism of the AP headline "Egypt Coverage Creates Unforgettable Daytime TV". But how can you keep shoveling that stuff out when your own reporter is a bruised, battered, bedbound rebuke to it? Even as America's laughably parochial media tried to make the story all about them or all about Obama (which boils down to the same thing), the one part of the story that actually was about one of them got buried. Would it have been different if it had been the A-list anchorettes - Katie Couric or Diane Sawyer? Or would even they have been subordinated to the politically correct narrative?

At the heart of the Lara Logan story is a basic question: Is this a one-off crime? Or a cultural faultline? Look at the picture of her in the moments before the attack: blonde, bare-headed, hint of cleavage. I would send no western woman looking like that out into the streets of Cairo or any other Arab capital. In the hierarchy of infidel whores, blondes have a special cachet. I wrote years ago about the House of Saud's annual summer-long vacation for select princes at their Spanish resort: a lucky Mayfair escort agency has the exclusive contract to supply the girls; they all have to be blonde, and they're replaced after a fortnight, because the ladies are generally all worn out by then.

As Samira Bellil wrote: "There are only two kinds of girls. Good girls stay home, clean the house, take care of their brothers and sisters, and only go out to go to school." Whereas those who "wear make-up, to go out, to smoke, quickly earn the reputation as 'easy' or as 'little whores'." The late Miss Bellil was writing not of the slums of Cairo but of the French banlieues, in her autobiography Dans l'enfer des tournantes – "In the hell of the take-your-turns", the tournante being the slang term used by Muslim youths for gang-rape. Samira survived the gang-rapes, but was disowned by her parents when she went public about it. In Cairo, Lara Logan was on the receiving end of a Tahrir tournante, but, like Monsieur et Madame Bellil, her parent company decided it was best to keep quiet about it.

Since the rise of ISIS, we now have an epidemic of gang rape and sex slavery across the region. What happened to Miss Logan told us something of the truth of Islam's "spring fever" - whereas the "change is sexy and cool" pap was as fake a narrative as "Jackie"'s.

These facts are too cold and plain to be expressed in a "multicultural" society which has told itself that, thanks to the joys of diversity, a nice gay couple and a polygamous Muslim with three wives in identical burkas can live side by side at 27 and 29 Elm Street. In America Alone, I mentioned two European women who'd taken to going out headscarved when their journeys took them through, ahem, certain neighborhoods. No young girl can safely walk in "scanty clothing" through Clichy-sous-Bois or Rosengard in Sweden. In La Courneuve in France, 77 per cent of covered women said they wore the veil to "avoid the wrath of Islamic morality patrols," as Claire Berlinski put it. She added: "We are talking about France, not Iran."

But Egypt is different! It's the Facebook Revolution! Don't worry about the Muslim Brotherhood, it's all about "social media" - and, if some of the lads get a little too social with the media, don't let that get in the way of the myths. C'mon, what part of "Nothing to see here" don't you understand?

For the less deluded, many questions remain: How exactly did Miss Logan "become separated" from her crew? How can even 200 savages perpetrate group sexual assault on a naked blonde western woman in a square filled with hundreds of thousands of "peaceful" "freedom-loving" "democrats"? And, bearing in mind that photograph of poor Lara from moments earlier, let's not overlook the most obvious question of all: How could her bosses at CBS News be so stupid as to believe the we-are-the-world sludge they pour down their viewers' throats?

[UPDATE: By the way, what's with the terminology here? The preference for the vagaries of "sexual assault" and the insistence that it wasn't "rape". That seems awfully punctilious for a society which has assiduously promoted such elastic concepts as "date rape". So it didn't rise to the level of "rape", or "date rape", never mind (per Whoopi Goldberg) "rape rape"? Western feminists are the go-to gals when it comes to overturning the entrenched patriarchy of 1950s sitcom dads, but they don't seem to have the stomach for more culturally problematic battles.]

~Incidentally, an hour after Mubarak fell, I was on air with Megyn Kelly and described what was happening as "the unraveling of the American Middle East". I'll stand by that, too. On Sunday the last US personnel abandoned yet another imploding Arab state, where yet another franchise of the jihad frolics and gambols through yet another abandoned US diplomatic compound, gleefully firing into the air the state-of-the-art weaponry we left behind.

from Steyn on Culture, March 24, 2015


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