”Jag vill inte rysa av skam inför tidningen”


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Two weeks ago I resigned my position as a Feature Writer on The Sun newspaper - Britain’s biggest daily tabloid - over our coverage of the war on Iraq.

It was not a decision I took lightly but had thought about for many months leading up to what seemed to many of us, an inevitable conflict.

The Sun's approach, as a Rupert Murdoch-owned title, had been gung-ho from the start, buying into the government line that the weapons inspectors were failing to persuade Saddam Hussein of the merits of disarmament.

But on the day war broke out, my paper ran with the headline on their first edition copies: “Show them no pity? they have stains on their souls.”

It was sickening.

In this illegal invasion of a developing country – whose desperate people had been terrorised and murdered for years on end – The Sun was endorsing the view that the Iraqis were undeserving of our pity.

They were less than human, every one in some part guilty for the sins of their leader.

As someone strongly opposed to this war from the start, I felt I could no longer bear to be associated with a right-wing publication that took such a brutal and savage view.

As many of us in Britain are only too well aware, this was Bush’s war of retribution – pay back time for 9/11 and a neat way to sew up Middle East oil exports.

He had failed to find Osama, failed to convince his country to dig up Alaska in a bid to become less dependent on foreign fossil fuels and now he was using his power as leader of the world’s only superpower to invade a sovereign state.

And all our Prime Minister managed to achieve with his frantic efforts to secure a second UN resolution was to lend this war a legitimacy it never deserved in the first place.

So I resigned, telling my bosses exactly why I was leaving.

I want to be proud of the paper I work for, not shudder in shame at its front-page bloodlust.

And in journalism there is an unwritten rule that no matter what you think personally – or say privately – in public you stand shoulder to shoulder with your editor and back the paper’s stance.

You are a representative of your organ, ready to defend it at all times and willing to stand up for its views.

If you can’t do that then keep your head down and your mouth shut.

My bosses were shocked but understanding, even admitting that some senior figures had concerns like myself.

But these people were now locked-in to supporting an unjustified, immoral and now illegal war which would have epercussions for the whole world, not just the Middle East, for many years to come.

That can be seen as a tragedy of our monopolised media where all titles owned by one individual toe the same line and say the same thing. In America the situation is even worse, where those enunciating a view objecting to war are vilified and reviled for being “unpatriotic”.

It is not unpatriotic to be against war – in fact, in these times of deep treachery by our government it is our patriotic, not to mention, journalistic duty to express the opinions they don’t want you to hear.

This is not a video game where we compare the size of our tanks and bombs and gasp in appreciation at the big blasts seen in Baghdad like some terrific fireworks display.

These are peoples’ lives – our soldiers’ lives too – and in the end we will all pay the price for this travesty in ways we can barely imagine.

Already the European Union is divided, the United Nations depleted and the Arab nations disgruntled.

Every day we watch the disaster unfold with disbelieving eyes, unsure what to believe in the half-truths of war.

Lies and hypocrisy have brought us here now how on earth are we going to get back?

Katy Weitz