Reporters aren’t the only victims of sexual assault

Tamara Holder Contributor
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As a Fox News Channel contributor, I often find myself in heated debates with our country’s best television hosts, analysts and experts. I am always honored to have a platform to respectfully disagree with my conservative opponents.

But last week’s discussions about CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, who was beaten and sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square by a large mob, bothered me more than usual. Both FNC hosts Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly decided to spin the story into . . . well . . . nonsensical gibberish.

Ms. Logan’s attack can be analyzed from many perspectives; however, at its core, the attack is about protecting American women from sexual assault, be it in Egypt or on American soil.

The same day the story of Ms. Logan’s sexual assault broke, Tuesday, February 15th, a lawsuit was filed against Defense Secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates by members of our military for damages they’ve suffered as a result of sexual abuse while serving our country.

But there was no time for a discussion about the lawsuit.

Baseless speculation

Instead, Michelle Malkin, a woman for whom I have immense respect, appeared on “Hannity” to eloquently weave Ms. Logan’s senseless attack into an attack on the mainstream media and liberals.

I think if CBS News and the rest of the mainstream media want to do right by her and right by all the other journalists who were attacked last week and over the course of the last two weeks, what they will do is finally find some spine and refuse to whitewash the truth about who these assailants were, what they were motivated by. It is always interesting, of course, Sean, when many of the same people who are always talking about root causes of this, root cause of that, if it scores political points against conservatives, have nothing to say about the root causes of anti-Americanism in particular, in these festering places in the Middle East.

Michelle’s allegations of a spineless, whitewashing conspiracy are baseless, premature and dangerous. Ms Logan was the victim of a very serious crime while performing her job as an employee of CBS. No employer has a duty to publicly reveal private details of an ongoing criminal investigation. Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever that CBS or the mainstream media is intentionally covering up the facts of such a serious case.

One of the greatest features of America is our judicial system. Lady Justice is not a perfect woman; however, rest assured, Ms. Logan’s attack will be properly investigated. In fact, the Obama administration immediately requested the Egyptian authorities cooperate in a criminal investigation and preserve any evidence. (It was reported that there are cell phone videos of the attack.) White House spokesman Jay Carney stated, “We believe that we must hold accountable those responsible for committing these acts.” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Leslie Phillips said the United States will “hold accountable any person involved in the incidents of violence during the demonstrations.”

There is no place for political rhetoric and baseless accusations against the mainstream media during an ongoing criminal investigation.

We should focus on rescuers, not attackers

Interestingly, Sean pointed out Ms. Logan “was eventually rescued by a group of Egyptian women and approximately 20 Egyptian soldiers.” Read that again: Egyptian women and soldiers rescued Ms. Logan.

The people who rescued her were not anti-American. The people who attacked her may not have been anti-American either but rather anti-democracy, anti-peaceful demonstration, anti-freedom.

Furthermore, the barbaric sexual attacks were not targeted solely against Americans, but against all women. There were numerous reports of Egyptian women and other women from around the region being sexually molested as they protested for democracy, change and the end of the dictatorship.

Is it safe for women to go to the Middle East?

On Friday, Bill O’Reilly also spun Ms. Logan’s attack into one of safety. “Is it worth the risk now, with all of the horror going on in the Middle East — and it’s been going on for years — is it worth the risk for women to cover the news there?”

On Sunday, British reporter Angela Johnson reported that she too was the victim of “several sexual harassment attacks” while in Tahrir Square:

But what happened to Lara has given women like me a chance to tell our story, like the time in South Africa when I fled a Zulu after he pushed his hand down my blouse.

Or the occasion in Qatar when I fought off a sheikh in full traditional dress trying to force his way into my hotel room.

I have had my breasts grabbed in Turkey, been chased by a gang of men while walking down the street in Morocco and generally treated like a piece of meat on a previous visit to Egypt.

Attacks on women aren’t unique to the Middle East. They occur all around the world, including in our own country and against the women who dedicate their lives to protecting our soil: the women of the United States military.

The United States continues to allow thousands of men and women who serve in our military to be assaulted and raped. When Secretary Rumsfeld resigned in 2006, there was a 24% increase in rapes and sexual assaults from the following year. He also permitted 80% of military personnel who were convicted of sex crimes to be honorably discharged. It is speculated that in 2009 there were approximately 16,150 rapes and assaults

Let me ask you this, Bill: Is it worth the risk now, with all the horror going on inside of our military — and it’s been going on for years — is it worth the risk for women to enter the military and risk getting attacked and silenced by one of our very own?

Want to attack the liberals about a fellow American’s sexual assault? Why don’t you ask Obama why he continues to allow his administration to cover up the abuse of its own men and women who serve this country? Shall we talk about Army Specialist Andrea Neutzling, who was raped by two soldiers in Iraq, and how they videotaped her rape and circulated it around? Or shall we discuss Army Sergeant Rebekah Havrilla, whose colleague photographed her as he held her down and raped her? Shall we discuss how the military chaplain told her “it must have been God’s will” for her to be raped and that the perpetrator was never prosecuted?

Bill and Sean, you have the opportunity to talk about the deeper issue here and it’s not about anti-Americanism in Egypt; it’s about rape and anti-Americanism in America.

Tamara N. Holder is one of the nation’s rising attorneys and legal analytical stars. She is a contributor for the Fox News Channel. She has received recognition from some of the country’s most respected people, organizations and publications. Tamara founded The Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder, LLC, in 2005. Her work includes: criminal defense, expungement, race discrimination, police brutality, public policy, and pro bono practices. Seeing the need for outreach in this area, Tamara founded www.xpunged.com, a practice that provides a second chance to those individuals who have expungeable offenses under Illinois law.