, an article by John Simpson, as part of their ‘From our own correspondent’ series, reflecting on his feelings about the incidents he reports on in light of the recent birth of his son, Rafe. Simpson writes:
And to see the miracle of other people’s lives snuffed out wantonly on the streets of Baghdad or Kabul, or London for that matter, for some scarcely understood political or religious motive, seems to me nothing short of blasphemy.
I do not just loathe the stench of high explosive, I have come to loathe the attitudes of people who use high explosive for their own purposes: insurgents, terrorists, the intelligence services of a dozen countries, governments which target towns and cities and always have a ready apology when they kill the wrong people.
A laudable observation of what most decent and humane people just know innately, without requiring a revelatory experience – although I suppose we must remember that people at the BBC these days do seem to have issues when it comes to telling right from wrong. Curiously though, Simpson lumps together all users of high explosives as if they are equally loathesome, without stopping to note that there is a big difference between terrorists and insurgents, who tend to seek to maximise civilian casualties to further their cause, and responsible governments who go to great lengths to minimise civilian casualties to further their cause – even if on some occasions some of their representatives could try harder and be less glib when apologies are sadly necessary.
I hope I never did think that attacks on civilians – any civilians – were justified but now I know for certain they are not.
Again, this isn’t a sentiment that most people would have any doubt about, ever. Perhaps Simpson’s lack of certainty reflects the offensive BBC-think that insists that ‘terrorists’ are ‘militants’, because terrorist as a word has negative connotations, without of course stopping to remember that the reason why the word terrorist has negative connotations is precisely because of what terrorists do!
The fact is, my time reporting on violence and bombings in places like Baghdad and Kabul has shown me one essential thing: that the lives of the poor, the stupid, the old, the ugly, are no less precious to them and to the people around them, than the life of my little son Rafe is precious to me.
Another statement so obvious that it is remarkable solely because Mr. Simpson thinks it needs to be said. Still, we can but hope that Simpson’s revelations might better inform the BBC when it comes to distinguishing between right and wrong,
between terrorist and militant, when reporting and recording events around the world.