By editorial staff – Edmonton Journal — October 28, 2011
Re: “‘They betrayed humankind, Islam’; Crown alleges Afghan father cursed his three daughters and former wife after killing them,” by Christie Blatchford, Oct. 21, and “Murder victim’s diary a revealing look at misogynist culture,” Oct. 22.
Good writing is manipulative in that it can lead a reader somewhere without them even knowing it. Carefully chosen words can guide us through a range of emotion and insight until we land, often very softly, at a conclusion that may or may not be our own.
Christie Blatchford is a master of this technique. The two columns noted above refer to the trial of Mohammad Shafia for the alleged murder of his first wife and daughters.
It would seem she is innocently telling the tragic tale of a family caught in a cycle of disrespect and misogynistic abuse that spiraled to a most terrible end. But look closer. She repeatedly fails to distinguish between the lowest example of Afghan culture and all the rest.
Cultures all over the world display gender inequalities and withhold basic human rights from marginalized groups; people are routinely discriminated against because of their ethnicity, their gender, their age, their sexual orientation, or their economic status.
Blatchford robbed herself and her readers of an opportunity to frankly discuss the real inequities and subjugations of many Afghan and Muslim women by asking the reader to believe that it never happens here. She writes: “The family had lived in Pakistan, Australia and Dubai — behind closed doors, they might as well have been back in Afghanistan.”...That, my friends, is what you call a "tu coque" argument (i.e. "you do it too, so what's the biggie?"), and it's far more manipulative than anything Christie has written about the alleged honour crimes (which, frankly, are practised by only a handful of "cultures"). That reportage has been clear-eyed and even-handed to the max.