CBS News’s Charlie D’Agata slammed for saying Ukraine more ‘civilized’ than Iraq, Afghanistan
A senior foreign correspondent for CBS News apologized on Saturday, February 26, after saying on air that the situation in Ukraine couldn't be compared to those in Iraq and Afghanistan as the European nation is "relatively civilized."
Russia launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine Thursday, February 24. Heavy shelling and skirmishes on the streets have been reported across the country as Russian troops entered Kharkiv in the early hours of Sunday, February 27. Charlie D'Agata, 51, was reporting live from the capital city of Kyiv on Friday, February 25, when he told viewers that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades." He added, “This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city, where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen."
D'Agata, who has been a reporter with CBS for over two decades, subsequently apologized on the broadcaster's steaming network Saturday after his comments were branded as racist and historically inaccurate. “I spoke in a way I regret, and for that I’m sorry,” he said, adding that he was trying to say that Ukraine hadn't faced “this scale of war” in recent years, unlike the other countries. “You should never compare conflicts anyway, each one is unique…I used a poor choice of words and I apologize for any offense I may have caused," he added.
D'Agata's comments sparked an uproar on social media, with people pointing out that Iraq was once the "cradle of civilization" because ancient Mesopotamia is where "civilization" first emerged. Meanwhile, Ukraine has seen war and conflict almost as much as any other nation, with the Russian annexation of Crimea taking place less than a decade ago.
"For American journalist [sic], the conflict is not expected in ‘civilized’ ‘European’ Ukraine as it is not an Iraq or Afghanistan! This is the crux of [the] world’s problem," UNESCO chairperson Ashok Swain tweeted.
"Utterly revolting language from Charlie D'Agata -- if @CBSNews doesn't act to censure things like this, it's a de facto justification. The view of the #MiddleEast as "uncivilized" is racism, pure & simple -- and it goes so far to explain so much, in the media and policy worlds," author Charles Lister added.
“CBS News dropped the dog whistle for straight racism today,” Chicago Sun-Times reporter Nader Issa wrote. “If that’s the version where he chooses his words carefully, was the alternative just going to be 'these are civilized white people and not uncivilized brown people.'"
Laleh Khalili, a professor at the Queen Mary University of London, offered, “Oh yes, the deserving civilized victims and those uncivilized non-European savages undeserving of sympathy where war just “rages for decades” (never mind it is the US and its allies starting the wars)." She added, “Thanks, @cbsnews for explicitly laying it out.”
Some also noted how D’Agata bothered to say “with all due respect” before making the racist comments on Friday. “He hears himself sounding racist, he acknowledges that he should be careful to hide the racism, but ultimately is unable or unwilling to actually stop the racism,” author Hend Amry chimed in.
For American journalist, the conflict is not expected in ‘civilized’ ‘European’ Ukraine as it is not an Iraq or Afghanistan! This is the crux of world’s problem. pic.twitter.com/RrUu4JSnCv— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) February 26, 2022
Utterly revolting language from Charlie D'Agata -- if @CBSNews doesn't act to censure things like this, it's a de facto justification.— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 27, 2022
The view of the #MiddleEast as "uncivilized" is racism, pure & simple -- and it goes so far to explain so much, in the media and policy worlds. https://t.co/P6bTWrKo8w
CBS News dropped the dog whistle for straight racism today— Nader Issa (@NaderDIssa) February 26, 2022
"This isn't a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European, I have to choose those words carefully too, city." https://t.co/tfs56L3o2P
Oh yes, the deserving civilised victims and those uncivilised non-European savages undeserving of sympathy where war just "rages for decades" (never mind it is US and its allies starting the wars). Thanks @cbsnews for explicitly laying it out. https://t.co/pLdtM95TrX— Laleh Khalili (@LalehKhalili) February 26, 2022
He hears himself sounding racist, he acknowledges that he should be careful to hide the racism, but ultimately is unable or unwilling to actually stop the racism. https://t.co/8fJlwaAbP4— Hend Amry (@LibyaLiberty) February 26, 2022
Among the major attacks in Ukraine on Saturday night was a gas pipeline outside Kharkiv that was set ablaze by Russian troops, as well as an oil depot in Vasylkiv that was destroyed by a Russian missile strike. Health minister Viktor Liashko revealed that 198 Ukrainian military personnel and civilians, including three children, had died since the invasion began. He added that 1,115 people had been injured, including 33 children, at the time of publication.
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