Letters: Honor Killings, W. Va. Flooding, Detainee Death
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Yesterday we set aside the politics of the war in Iraq and heard a story about the practice of honor killing in that country. We heard about a young woman who was abducted and possibly raped, then returned to her family. Following tribal custom, the men of her family murdered her for, in their eyes, violating their family's honor.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Well, that story from NPR's Anne Garrels brought in a flood of mail, and we're going to read some of it to start off our Thursday letters segment.
BLOCK: Deborah Salem Smith(ph) of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, sent this praise. `In her report, Anne Garrels doesn't shake us repeatedly and shout, "Look at this. Look at what is happening here." Rather she slowly and deliberately reveals the brutality, which seems to reach deep beyond the heart into the soul, where it remains like a persistent, aching sorrow. Thank you, Anne. Your courage is beyond human.'
NORRIS: Gail Priliman(ph) of Franklin, Tennessee, writes, `I found this story so chilling that I felt physically ill. It is hard to imagine a culture where men have such a twisted, cruel sense of power over women that they can murder without any worry of consequences. There is no honor in any country that would allow this treatment of its women, mothers, wives and daughters. Thank you for putting the condition of women in Iraq before the public.'
BLOCK: And Archangeles Di Ritas(ph) of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, writes with this perspective: `How do we reconcile the fact that we are delivering aid, security and infrastructure to that part of the world, to those who unabashedly kill and brutalize their girls, women and wives as a matter of traditional culture? The fact that these Iraqi values are utterly irreconcilable and absolutely contrary to American values should be the primary reason for why we are there. And we should fight to change and destroy the traditions of repulsive tribal morality.'
NORRIS: On to other matters now and this correction.
BLOCK: In my story on the floods that devastated towns in southern West Virginia on July 8th, 2001, we reported that 11 inches of rain fell in four hours that day. That's the number that was cited by the media following the floods and the number that residents of Wyoming County remember to this day. However, we've since learned that a rain gauge was malfunctioning and that the actual rainfall was about half that.
NORRIS: Kevin Schlottman of New York City had some praise for that story. He writes, `I just listened to the segment on the floods in West Virginia for the second time, and I was even more impressed. The audioscape was fascinatingly diverse. People were allowed to tell their stories, and Ms. Block brought it all together. Brilliant radio.'
BLOCK: Daniel Zwerdling's investigation into the death of Richard Rust brought in praise as well. Rust was an immigrant who died at a detention center here in the US.
NORRIS: This letter comes from Mark Vacker of Atlanta. He writes, `Kudos to Daniel Zwerdling for his outstanding piece on Richard Rust. His relentless, meticulous, in-your-face reporting on this story is the type of work that makes NPR worth listening to. By carefully building his case, Zwerdling destroys the government whitewash. Thank you for speaking truth to power and doing it so eloquently.'
BLOCK: But many of you took issue with that report. Linda Sadler of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, writes this: `The reporter seemed intent on portraying Mr. Rust in a positive light, possibly to generate enough sympathy for him to be a good example to use for a story about the medical neglect of immigrant detainees. However, in his attempt to portray Rust as being a highly sympathetic man, Zwerdling glossed over and trivialized Rust's rape of a young girl. This seems to me to be highly irresponsible, distorted and inaccurate journalism. I was appalled.'
NORRIS: However you feel about our work, we want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts. Go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on `Contact Us' at the top of the page.