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A Moment of Churlishness

As you no doubt know, journalist Jill Carroll was released by her kidnappers in Baghdad last night. We are, of course, glad that she is alive, unlike so many others who have been taken hostage in Iraq.

No doubt her joy at being freed overwhelms all else, and it is probably churlish to critique her public comments. Nevertheless, I want to register a small protest against her statement, widely quoted in the press, that she was “well treated” by her captors. This is a sentiment that one often hears from people who have been released by kidnappers; one gets the sense that the victims are grateful–understandably, perhaps–to the terrorists for letting them go.

But the fact is that Ms. Carroll was not “well treated” by her captors. She says that they “never hit me. They never even threatened to hit me.” Terrific. But they did threaten to cut off her head, and kept her in fear of her life for nearly three months. To anyone who saw the videos in which she pleaded for her life, her mental distress was obvious. And the kidnappers murdered Carroll’s translator in the course of capturing her.

No doubt, in saying that she had been “well treated,” Ms. Carroll was mostly trying to assure her friends and family that her physical condition was OK. That’s obviously appropriate. But let’s not encourage a lot of warm feelings toward the murderous thugs who kidnapped Carroll, shot her translator, and may well have received a ransom to let her go.

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