The Daily Aztec

Journalists, we must not be silenced

by Shayne Jones, Staff Writer

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As demagogy rouses an oil-mongering economy, modern journalism is clambering to find steady footing.

And by ‘steady footing,’ I mean asylum. And by ‘asylum,’ I mean refuge from murder and dismemberment.

In late September, Saudi Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi rebuked an oppressive Saudi kingdom for its denudation of the Saudi press, writing:

“These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.”

On Oct 2, Khashoggi passed over the gold-embossed threshold of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to obtain marriage documents, and disappeared inside.

Followed by silence.

Turkish officials have since alleged (by way of leaked audio recording) a murder which involved the beheading of the journalist and subsequent dismemberment of his body in a consulate sink.  

The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, denies any knowledge or premeditation of the slaughter, despite CIA confidence that Saudi agents could not have executed the killing without the prince’s consent.

Further muddling the truth is none other than President Donald Trump, who responded to public inquiries concerning whether Salman decreed Khashoggi’s death with a “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” in his Nov 20 public statement.

Trump continues to side with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the crown prince, whom agreed to invest $110 billion in military equipment and $450 billion total in the United States; because in his words, “America first!”

Give me a break.

Momentarily bypassing the President’s flagrant lapse in moral judgment, lest we become ensnared in yet another butt-hurt Trump tweet, we cannot ignore the peril confronting our journalists.

It’s not ‘America first.’ It should be ‘Democracy first’ or ‘freedom of the press first.’ Dissident journalists such as Khashoggi pioneer political metamorphosis.

They harness national spirit with literary grace, and move swift the currents of change. But they are quite literally being silenced.

We must protect our right to speak up. It was a right granted to us at the literal birth of our nation, yet we remain complacent as that right slowly dissolves into the autocratic hands of a cheeto puff.

Let the murder of Jamal Khashoggi serve not as a death threat to free press, but as the catalyst to a journalistic revolution.

And let the voice of Jamal Khashoggi lead us fearlessly into it.

We will not be silenced.

Khashoggi wrote the draft for this final editorial prior to his disappearance on October 2. It was officially published by his editor Karen Attiah on Oct 17 in the Washington Post once his death was confirmed.

Attiah noted that “The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together.”

Shayne Jones is a junior studying journalism.

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