Columnists, Opinion

An American pipe dream

On Oct. 2 Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and never came out.

Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian longtime journalist and author. He was sharply critical of the Saudi government and royalty. Ultimately, he fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 to the United States, where he was a legal U.S. resident.

Amid news reports claiming his death, an aide specified that Khashoggi was a U.S. resident as President Donald Trump stated, “Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen. Is that right?”

President Donald Trump faced the delicate news while adamantly reminding the press that while a “thing like that shouldn’t happen,” he worked hard “to get the order for the military, $110 billion,” of the US-Saudi arms deal.

Suddenly, Khashoggi’s death, his immigrant status, and Trump’s joy for money remind us that the United States executive branch does not care for journalism. In fact, President Trump seems to loathe it.

Although the United States upholds itself as a beacon of liberty, Trump’s constant beratement of journalists reminds us otherwise. Constantly labeling journalists as “fake news,” or as the “enemy of the people,” has created an irrefutable fear among the media.

According to a Politico Morning Consult poll released last week, nearly half of registered voters believe that negative stories about Trump and his administration are “fabricated by reporters and editors,” according to the poll.

“These polls underscore an existential threat to our way of life,” said Washington Post reporters Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve. “To prevent the continuing atrophy of our democracy, concerned citizens from all walks of life and both parties must speak up for the virtue and necessity of the First Amendment wherever it comes under attack.”

This poll emphasizes why Jamal Khashoggi’s death is the pinnacle of fragility in our democracy. While the first amendment remains highly protected by law, it’s suffering at the hands of the people. Most of all, it’s suffering at the hands of President Donald J. Trump.

And as an aspiring journalist, the road from the 2016 elections has lead to a collegiate existential crisis. From having journalism as my sole major, I decided to declare political science as a clever duality to journalism. I grew fervently passionate about politics partly out of anger, but mainly out of genuine terror. As a Hispanic immigrant, college student and (opinionated) woman, there’s a genuine fear that cultivates my slowing separation from the career I once dreamt of.

And, many people can say that they fell out of love with their desired career path because they wanted more; or, they were simply unhappy. There are many factors that they face, mostly personal. However, now, journalists are facing a new realm of self-imposed restrictions.

As each and every day goes by, the daunting idea of being a journalist oscillates between the opportunity of being bold to the threat of being killed. Whether it’s in Annapolis, Maryland or in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey, Donald Trump does not care for the lives of journalists unless they venerate him. I, for one, can’t name an honest journalist who would.

Daniela Perez is a junior majoring in journalism and political science.

November 2, 2018


Daniela Perez

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