Thursday, January 10, 2013

Attacking the State Department and Rice

Partisan voices attacked the State Department and a black, female, U.S. government official by the name of Rice regarding a State Department incident involving a “death sentence” for State employees forced to work overseas.

A political party, its pundits, and its supporters then cheered these partisan voices.

Only this story didn’t happen in 2012 over the attack on the State Department installation in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the deaths of four Americans.

Instead, this story happened in 2007 over the announcement that the State Department would possibly require some of its employees to do their job in Baghdad, Iraq.

And the black, female, U.S. government official named “Rice” was then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and not U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice.

Furthermore, the partisan voices in 2007 were attacking a Republican administration.

On top of that, the partisan operatives didn’t just indirectly attack Secretary of State Rice; they also directly attacked a second black U.S. official.

Yet there were no outcries of “racism” or “misogyny” from the legacy media, race-based congressional caucuses, or their leftist allies.

And there were no demands that people forget about the story, or that the story actually was a non-story.

This contrasts greatly with how the legacy media, race-based congressional caucuses, and leftist operatives reacted in 2012 over the Islamic terrorist attack on the State Department installation in Benghazi—an attack that they first tried to blame on “Islamophobia.”

The legacy media gave a lot of press to the 2007 State Department announcement that it would possibly involuntary choose some State Department employees to serve in Baghdad.

The Washington Post was one of the media outlets that reported on an internal State Department meeting that occurred over the 2007 announcement that some employees might be required to fill vacant positions in the Baghdad Green Zone.

The Washington Post highlighted the opposition of some employees within the State Department to this announcement:

Service in Iraq is “a potential death sentence,” said one man who identified himself as a 46-year Foreign Service veteran. “Any other embassy in the world would be closed by now,” he said to sustained applause.

The Telegraph (UK) also reported on this meeting, identifying the man who made the above statement:

“Incoming is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the Green Zone,” said Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service officer who once worked as a political adviser with NATO forces. . . .

. . . “It’s one thing if someone believes in what’s going on over there and volunteers, but it’s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment,” Croddy said. “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?”

In fact, the legacy media portrayed the opposition to this announcement as a “revolt” in the State Department, something that was highlighted in multiple headlines.

“Condoleezza Rice Trying to Quell State Department Revolt Over Required Iraq Duty,” was the title of an AP story on

The headline for The Telegraph article on the story was, “US diplomats revolt over forced Iraq postings.”

The legacy media and partisan operatives also did their best to defend the views of these State Department employees who objected to the possibility that they would be involuntarily assigned to Baghdad.

TIME Magazine ran an opinion column (“Why Diplomats Won’t Go to Iraq”) which offered outright sympathy to them:

Most discouraging of all, the danger and discomfort do not seem to be in service of a successful strategy. Croddy, the veteran diplomat, implied that the shortage of volunteers was a function of diplomats not believing in the American mission in Iraq. It’s a fair point.

But the support for the insubordinate State Department employees didn’t just come from private citizens; public officials defended them too.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House in 2007, offered sympathy to the State Department officials who threatened revolt:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she thought the revolt was an indication of the unpopularity of the Iraq war and the “failure” of Bush’s Iraq policies.

“People are patriotic, they take hardship duty all over the world to represent our country and we’re very proud of them when they do,” she told a news conference. “And so, when they resist, it’s very unusual and should be a very clear message about the direction of this war, the prospect for success in it and the lack of interest in people in serving our country in that way.”

There were exceptions to the rule, of course.

WIRED’s Danger Room blog ran a post that actually criticized the State Department employees who revolted. (Although days later, Danger Room would publish a post that seemed to express shock after the State Department defended itself against the attacks of its insubordinate employees.)

Nevertheless, the legacy media and leftist operatives did not suggest that the revolt against the black and female Condoleezza Rice was a result of racism, misogyny, or any combination of the both.

Rice herself never complained and even tried reaching out to her insubordinate employees.

The lack of racism accusations in 2007 (as compared to the barrage of accusations in 2012) is particularly noteworthy in light of how the State Department employees treated then director general of the Foreign Service Harry K. Thomas, Jr. when he answered their question during their meeting to discuss the announcement that some employees might be sent to Baghdad. The Telegraph reported that (emphasis mine):

Thomas took full responsibility for the late notification. But he objected when the association’s president, John Naland, said a recent survey found only 12 percent of the union’s membership believed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was “fighting for them.”

“That’s their right, but they’re wrong,” Thomas said, prompting a testy exchange.

“Sometimes, if it’s 88 to 12, maybe the 88 percent are correct,” Naland said.

“Eighty-eight percent of the country believed in slavery at one time; was that correct?” shot back Thomas, who is black, in a remark that drew boos from the crowd. “Don’t you or anybody else stand there and tell me I don’t care about my colleagues. I am insulted,” Thomas added.

In other words, the legacy media and leftist operatives didn’t mind it in 2007 when a room full of State Department employees openly booed a black man when he made a statement about slavery being wrong despite popular opinion.

Nor did the legacy media or leftists care that the same State Department employees politicized and revolted against a black Secretary of State for issuing them a “potential death sentence” even when no deaths had occurred.

Standards have changed since 2007.

In the end, the revolt of State Department employees in 2007 didn’t matter. The State Department found volunteers to fill the vacancies in Iraq and it didn’t have to assign anyone.

There were no reports that any of the State Department employees who revolted were disciplined for their insubordination.

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