Even reporters get swept up in the moment

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Sometimes people get caught up in the excitement of the moment. Reporters are no exception.

After all, we are people too.

In the Thursday, April 10 editorial, the editorial stated the placement of the United States flag over the face of Saddam Hussein by a young marine was a faux pas -- and wasn't greeted by enormous cheers from the crowd until the Marine replaced our flag with the flag of the Iraqi people.

That might not have been completely true. It's all a matter of perspective.

The editorial writer -- not in Baghdad -- only had the live television reports to write from. The reporter the writer was listening to said there were no great cheers of joy until the Iraqi flag replaced the American flag.

Now, for my view of the situation.

Personally, I was as jubilant as the Iraqis. I couldn't help but think about the many important events I have witnessed in my few years on earth.

I viewed the toppling of the statue of Hussein, of which there were many, as being equivalent to the East Germans breaking down the Berlin Wall in November 1989. It was as symbolic as the Russians tearing down the statues of Lenin and Stalin in the former Soviet Union.

When the young Marine placed our flag over Saddam's face, I viewed it as the Marine saying, "You said we couldn't do it. We did it. Now, we'll show you what your people can do without you." When he then placed the Iraqi flag over Hussein's face, it was as if he was saying, "The Americans have helped the Iraqi people liberate themselves, and now, we give the country to the rightful owners -- the people of Iraq."

As a reporter, and even more so as an editor, I strive to keep my own political views out of my writing, and the public's view. That's not always an easy thing to do. Especially when one considers himself extremely political. Instead, I've taken the view as pro-soldier in the whole situation. That's something that probably would make a few of my hardened J-School professors a little angry. The fact of that matter is, I don't care what they would think.

I view it as the responsibility of the news media, especially hometown news media, to offer its support for its sons and daughters in the best possible way. After all, if it weren't for these brave soldiers fighting, and the ones who fought before them, I wouldn't be able to say what I feel in my weekly columns and the editorials I write when I perceive the doings of our government as wrong.

The fact of the matter is, we all know there were cheers of joy erupting in the streets of Baghdad when the Iraqi citizens toppled that statue with the help of the United States Marines. It was the Iraqi citizens who asked for help in toppling the statue, and now, the Iraqi citizens, and the rest of the world will be better off without the thought and presence of such an evil tyrant.

However, we, as a country, must still be mindful and respectful of our Arab friends and their governments and cultures and not interject a lethal dose of "Americanism" that might not be welcome -- despite how much we love our customs and culture.

Jeffery Biggs is the editor

of the Star-News.