Anderson Cooper Attacked in Egypt: Why We Really Care

Kim Conte

anderson cooperAnderson Cooper and his CNN crew were attacked Wednesday by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt. CNN's Steve Brusk tweeted that Cooper was punched 10 times in the head.

No one was seriously hurt in the attack; in fact, Cooper himself was reporting on the situation a mere 15 minutes later on American Morning from a safer position:

The crowd kept growing, kept throwing more punches, kicks ... they were trying to grab us. It was pandemonium. There was really no control to it ... suddenly a young man would come up, look at you, and punch you in the face.

Cooper admirers, no doubt, are breathing a sigh of relief that his boyish good looks emerged generally unscathed from the scuffle. But I think we're all smart enough to know that's not why news of the attack is making headlines this morning ...

As Americans it's sometimes difficult to broaden our worldviews and understand the implications of an event from something other than the American-centric or even Western-centric point of view. But in this instance, it might be helpful to do so. 

Viewed through this lens, the importance of this story isn't merely that Anderson Cooper, a member of the liberal American news organization, was under attack. Rather, it's that a neutral party -- the free press -- was silenced by a pro-Mubarak mob.

It's further evidence that Mubarak and his supporters have contempt for democratic ideals and freedom of speech -- and, ultimately, people deciding their own opinions. Furthermore, though Mubarak announced he would step down in September, Wednesday's surge in violence is evidence that perhaps this exit should happen much sooner.

Back in the United States, some people may think it ridiculous that Cooper -- and other journalists across the political spectrum who are covering the Cairo crisis from the trenches -- put themselves in harm's way during such a dangerous time. To those people, I ask you to consider this: How else are we supposed to get the whole story?


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