Both may share the same job title, professional journalist, yet for one, who died yesterday from two bullets from another professional, an assassin, being professional had nothing to do with having the morals of a prostitute, nor performing like a whore for the powerful.
Indeed, as Fox News crows (" the most-watched, most-trusted name in cable news") over its 10th anniversay as a propaganda organ for the White House, and on the same day which sees America's "professional" journalists obscess over a Congressman's sick infatuation while police in Baghdad found 51 bodies of abducted, tortured and murdered Iraqiis, Anna's life and death stands as a bitter indictment of the utter debauchery of America's Fifth Estate, who like Judith Miller, betrayed America for fool's gold, condoning and colluding with the Bush Administration to bring us this disaster, this catastrophe, the Iraq War.
In contrast to those in our media who masquerade as "journalists", whose pretty faces squint for the teleprompter to sell unpretty lies, Anna's professionalism stemmed from what was once the traditonal meaning of a profession: a vocation, or calling, in service of an ideal, like justice, integrity, and the truth. It was in the name of truth that Anna went to Chechnya in 1999 to chronicle the vicious tactics of the Russian military as it brutalized and murdered its way through civillian populations in pursuit of the enemy. She brought home to Russians the graphic truth of their government's scorched earth policies in suppressing Chechnyan rebels. Terrorized mothers, injured soldiers, tortured refugees, orphaned children, all figured prominantly in the macabre mirror which Anna insistently held to the faces of the Russian people each night. The truth of the bloodied images overwhelmed the authorities. The truth or them could not survive another seering exposure. In transit to Beslan where 450 people, mostly children, were killed in a terrorist attack involving extremist Russian security personnel collusion, Anna was poisoned. She surivived. She continued with her relentless reportage. She was slated to appear as a witness in a torture and detention matter to implicate the current PM of Chechnya, Russia's lackey, Ramzan Kadyrov, who, along with his private militia, is counting the minutes to turn 30 to qualify as President.
Yet America, in its time of need for journalists to find the truth, when in fear after 911, it turned its lonely eyes for the mirror to see what bloody business Bush and his cohorts were up to, it had no Anna Politkovskayas to show us the vile frauds, the torture chambers, the dead bodies, the weeping children crouched at soldiers' boots in the glare of a midnight flashlight, their pretty dresses splashed with the black blood of their mothers. In her place, we found a painted lady, Judith Miller.
And like some drunk fleeing a whorehouse after a night of wild debauchery and excess, we rub our eyes in the morning sun to stare in disbelief at what evil we have wrought as a nation in Iraq and around world, and worse, to ourselves. We are in a war without end in a land without hope. In America, torture, liquidation of foes, and arbitrary surveillance is now legal, yet our chief concern today is not the perversion of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but that of some Senator.
Ah, to dream, that it was not Anna, but a Judith who would have reaped the harvest she sowed for the victims of her reportage. To dream that the spirit of Anna somehow be blown across the ocean to America, held aloft by the sighs of a million bereaved, who mourn the loss of a soldier, mother or child; that her spirit infuse the talking heads and pert pretties who now pose as our truth-tellers. May they fall asleep tonight on their pillows, their pretty heads untroubled by suspicions of their role in bringing us the Iraq War, Abu Ghraib, and the hundreds other Hadithas whose victims now lean out for a camera, for the world, for an American. May they drowse to a Bob Dylan tune that comes wafting through the bedroom window from some far off car radio:
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner's face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin',
-Bob Dylan, Hard Rain's Gonna Fall