The Spectacle Blog

Hikers or Haters? They’re Still Americans

By on 9.22.11 | 10:06AM

Yesterday, I wrote about the release of American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer who were held hostage in Iran for more than two years. The commentary towards them was not particularly generous. The sentiments seemed to run along these lines:

These guys got what they deserved. Why were they hiking in Iran of all places? Are there no (sic) enough places to hike in the USA -- or in Europe? Their stupidity is unbelievable, and they did not deserve any diplomatic attention from this country.

This morning, Ross Kaminsky noted how seeped Bauer is in moral equivalence when he called for "the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran." Indeed, I don't recall anyone in this country dying in captivity for writing a blog.

Needless to say, I don't share the political views of Bauer and company nor would I be inclined to spend my leisure time hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan. A day trip to Walden Pond will do just fine. Yet that is beside the point. Whether we like it or not and whether they like it or not, Bauer and Fattal are Americans. And if an American citizen is held hostage in a foreign country we don't ask how they voted in the last election or if they are a contributor to The Nation. It didn't stop the Reagan Administration from working to free Reverend Benjamin Weir from captivity in Lebanon even though he was a fierce critic of Reagan's foreign policy.

How would we like it if an American who held conservative political beliefs were kidnapped in Mexico and the Obama Administration didn't lift a finger to help win his or her release? Somehow I don't think we would look upon it too kindly.

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