If she’d been a character in a film you might have thought that Hollywood was gilding the lily, as Hollywood is wont to do: attractive blonde woman, mid 50s, throaty delivery, eye patch. All around her bullets fly, buildings burn and babies die.
But Marie Colvin was the real thing, a war correspondent for the London Sunday Times who spent decades in war zones risking her life to bring some of the grisly reality behind the soapy euphemism of officialdom to those of us slumped in front of the telly or flipping through the newspaper.
“Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defence or the Pentagon, and all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children.”
In this, as in the video of her last report to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, you get a sense of her anger at the obscene price paid by civilians for the actions and inaction of the men in suits in faraway places and the men with guns and rockets on the ground.
Ms. Colvin cut a dashing and romantic figure and it’s sadly the way of things that it usually takes the death of a charismatic or glamorous individual before we the comfortable are afflicted by some of the more vile realities of our world.
Forty-four journalists were killed in the line of duty in 2010, forty-six in 2011. Already nine (including Marie Colvin) have died this year.
It is an extraordinary offence to their memory, not to mention their courage and dedication, that many of us can no longer be arsed to read a quality newspaper, or that conventional wisdom has it that news has been ‘commoditized’ by the internet.
Photo: Bryan Adams