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(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

On a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged 17 million dollars in new funding to combat sexual violence. Sadly though that's not the story most of the media is covering.

Instead there has been intense focus on Clinton's snippy response to an apparently rude question from a Congolese student during a forum in Kinshasa:

“We’ve all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country — the interferences from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think, through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton, and what does Mr. Mutumbo think on this situation?”

Although ther standard media line was that the question was mistranslated, that has since been debunked.

Given that it now appears that the question was translated correctly — and that the male student wanted to know not just what Bill Clinton thought of Chinese relations with Congo but also what the former N.B.A. star Dikembe Mutumbo, who was present at the event, thought, too, but expressed no interest in the perspective of America’s female secretary of state — is it possible that Mrs. Clinton has gotten a raw deal from commentators in the United States for her angry reply?

More to the point, while most of the derisive commentary on Mrs. Clinton’s flash of temper contextualized it by noting that her husband had just been lauded for his trip to North Korea, few noted that she was in the middle of a trip to Congo, where the plight of women, many of whom suffered violent sexual abuse during recent fighting, is a major issue.

Perhaps more absurd is the news media coverage that followed. "I'm the Boss!" headlines screamed, even Jon Stewart disappointingly joined on the bandwagon.

As the documentary The Greatest Silence: Rape In The Congo points out:

Since 1998, tens of thousands of women and girls have been systematically kidnapped, raped, mutilated and tortured by soldiers - both from foreign militias and the Congolese army that is supposed to protect them. But perhaps the greatest tragedy, and danger, is that victims almost all remain silent about what they have suffered, too afraid and ashamed to speak out. As a result, the world is largely ignorant of their horrific plight and of the political conditions that allow it to continue.

The question remains, is Clinton's announcement and focus on the crisis of sexual violence against Congolese women not newsworthy enough?

Originally posted to canadian gal on Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 10:13 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Am I hearing/seeing things or did Hilary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DBunn, canadian gal

      get a raw deal on the release of the two journalists from N. Korea?

      I thought the N. Koreans were disrespectful of Mrs. Clinton and made some disparaging remarks.  Since I thought this attitude was wrong, I thought President Obama should have said to the N. Koreans that in the USA we treat women as equals and their comments about Mrs. Clinton were not welcome or agreed to.

      I thought that President Obama should have had his Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton, go to N. Korea instead of former-President Clinton.

      At dinner tonight, one female friend heard it the way I heard it but my brother said he's not heard anything like that in the news.

      How come I have this perception and another woman had the same perception.  My brother said he's never heard this about the N. Korea incident.

      Someone help me with this.  I've not been able to google-up the evidence to support my account of the N. Korea 'release of 'story.

      "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

      by Aidos on Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 09:03:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Would that have gotten it done? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DBunn, Aidos, canadian gal

        I thought that President Obama should have had his Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton, go to N. Korea instead of former-President Clinton.

        From what I understand, the NK's required an ex-prez, or no go. Al Gore (who the captives worked for) was supposedly proposed, bur rejected by NK.

        I think Secretary Clinton was savvy enough to not make it about herself, but about the two captives. And it's to her credit.

        She's a great S.O.S. imo.

        The crooks are leaving have left office, unprosecuted and scot-free.

        by BentLiberal on Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 09:12:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for diarying this lapse of the media. (3+ / 0-)

      Seems to be a common problem they have, focusing on the showy but trivial, avoiding anything challenging or difficult.

      Our system of law is premised on the idea that an unfettered government - rather than criminals - is the greatest danger to our lives and liberty.
      NCrissieB

      by pixxer on Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 09:29:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You really need to stop plagiarizing. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      canadian gal

      You put DKos in danger.

      HBO documentary synopsis:

      Since 1998, a brutal war has ravaged the DRC, killing over 4 million people. Over the same time, tens of thousands of women and girls have been systematically kidnapped, raped, mutilated and tortured by soldiers - both from foreign militias and the Congolese army that is supposed to protect them...

      ...But perhaps the greatest tragedy, and danger, is that victims almost all remain silent about what they have suffered, too afraid and ashamed to speak out. As a result, the world is largely ignorant of their horrific plight and of the political conditions that allow it to continue.

      You lifted that word for word.

      A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

      by Flyswatterbanjo on Sun Aug 16, 2009 at 03:53:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If the TradMed doesn't even understand the (14+ / 0-)

    idea of listening to the female Secretary of State speaking her own thoughts, it's a real stretch to think they care about the thoughts of anonymous women from Africa.

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 10:20:26 AM PDT

  •  I was going to suggest (9+ / 0-)

    that we start a new drinking game where you have to drink every time a talking head refers to Hillary as "shrill," but after rethinking that I came to realize that it would lead to endemic alcohol poisoining.

    -7.12, -7.54 / "Health care reform will never take place until Rahm Emanuel is strangled with the entrails of Frank Luntz." - Diderot

    by Big Tex on Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 10:38:39 AM PDT

  •  You've Been Rescued (6+ / 0-)

    "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

    by ItsJessMe on Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 08:22:07 PM PDT

  •  I've been fuming ever since the clip emerged (6+ / 0-)

    Each day that goes by that does not so much as mention the context or spare even a few seconds to discuss the horrors going on there makes me more irate about it.  

    Respecting women is the message Congo needs to hear more than ANYTHING else.

  •  People will always hate her..........nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aidos
  •  The right is working hard to discredit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BentLiberal, DBunn, canadian gal

    SOS Clinton. They are trying to make it a wedge issue and I am sure the PUMAs are hard at work,

    They are trying to portray her as ineffectual, isolated from the Obama adminstration and lazy. It's odd because you only have to check on line to see what hard work she is doing.

    She is doing a great job.

  •  Thank you for bringing this to our attention. (4+ / 0-)

    I was thinking it was strange that she was working so hard for women's rights in Africa, and all we heard about was that silly soundbite.

    The media just doesn't get it, hence, the nets are where it's at.

  •  Women and territory (0+ / 0-)

    The most primitive version of human society is a group of related males controlling a territory sufficient to support themselves, and some females and their offspring, and controlling sexual access to  those females. The territory by itself is meaningless, its only real significance (to the males in possession of the territory) is with regard to the females that deem it sufficient to support their offspring.

    A contest among males for possession of territory, is ultimately a contest over sexual access to a group of females. Therefore, at the most primitive level, rape becomes a tactic of war. If the sexual access of the rival males is proven, what else is there to fight over?

    I apologize to all women, and anyone else reading this, for the brutal nature of the above. The questions for everyone should be, are we willing to settle for the most primitive version of ourselves? Just because chimpanzees organize their societies that way, is that a reason that we should too? We may be similar to chimps, but are we not different as well? Should we indulge the similarities, and deny or ignore the differences?

    I can't help noticing that chimpanzees, though bright and wonderful in many ways, are not civilized. If we want to be, we can't act only like chimps. We have to move beyond that.

  •  The American media may not have paid much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BentLiberal, canadian gal

    attention to the rape issue as addressed by SOS Clinton, but I can tell you that the story was A. Big. Deal. in the media in Africa, and in outlets like Radio France International or Jeune Afrique which have large African audiences.  

    Her visit, and Obama's speech in Ghana, have been electrifying folks all across the continent. (Of course, their criticism of corruption and democratic shortcomings may have rubbed some Government leaders the wrong way, but that's all to the good.)

    Of course the American media don't cover rape-as-a-war-crime so much -- our guys just don't do stuff like that, right?  Right??

    Sigh.

  •  Very good diary, CG (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BentLiberal, canadian gal

    tipped and recommended.

  •  Great diary here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    canadian gal

    as well as on the Moose.  Sadly it got about as much attention.  Not sure why but my guess is that not much has changed in the media or on the blogs.

    Women's issues....
    *the plight of women in many parts of the world, the overwhelming abuse....
    *continued sexism in the media  

    don't seem to stir the souls of many on progressive blogs.

    Even when our own so called liberal pundits, like Schultz, use the soundbite for a chance to locker room bond (giggle like jocks talking about her) with the likes of Tancredo over Hillary's "outburst", not a word of protest on the blogs.  Happy to say Bill Press spoke up to Schultz and said the reaction was sexist.  Tancredo and Schultz just kept on giggling.  Never ONE WORD about why Hillary was there (the abuse of women; trying to get women to be treated as more than chattel).  Never a word that in that macho atmosphere, the Secretary of State had a right to insist she be treated with respect.  Never a follow up explaining that there was no "misinterpretation".  

    But what can I say.  Been here, done that, not much has changed.

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