CNN anchor under fire over 'orientalist' Iraq war tweet

CNN anchor under fire over 'orientalist' tweet comparing Washington DC to Iraq
2 min read
16 January, 2021
Wolf Blitzer posted a photo of National Guard troops in the Capitol and reminisced about Baghdad and Mosul, to the chagrin of many Twitter users.
A number of US media commentators have been accused of orientalism [Getty]
The anchor of CNN's The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer, is facing online ridicule and criticism for a caption he added to a photo of National Guard troops on a Washington D.C. street.

Blitzer posted a photo of five National Guard troops in full military fatigues in Washington with a caption that quickly prompted outrage online.

“I spotted these National Guard troops at a normal Washington street corner not even near the Capitol. So many streets have been closed. It reminds me of the war zones I saw in Baghdad or Mosul or Falluja. So sad,” he said.

Replying to Blitzer, one Twitter user said, “People need to stop making this comparison. The suffering of the people of Iraq has been incalculable magnitudes higher that it's just remarkable people are even thinking to say this.”

And another was quick to point out the obvious differences between the recent events in the Capitol and the war in Iraq, saying: “HOW is the current situation in DC Baghdad?? Are bombs dropping on everyone’s heads?? Have hundreds of thousands of people died?? Stop comparing like it’s even remotely the same.”

Since the violent protests in the US Caption, a number of US media figures have made frequently unhelpful comparisons to troubled spots in the Middle East. 

Blitzer’s colleague at CNN, Van Jones, also previously came under fire for comparing the riots in the Capitol to events in Syria. 

"Where we're headed looks more like Syria than the United States of America," he said.

The conflict in Syria has raged for 10 years and estimates put the death toll at close to 500,000.

Such comparisons have been accused of American exceptionalism and employing orientalist stereotypes of the Middle East being a homogenous region of chaos and violence, while simultaneously downplaying the devastation that has been wrought on some countries in the region.

Many of these comparisons ignore the role that US itself has played in sowing destruction in a number of Arab nations, social media users have pointed out.

Read more: What a Biden presidency could mean for the Middle East

"I love how these kinds of posts imply that the natural habitat of the American soldier is Baghdad or Kabul," one Twitter user said.

Ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, and in anticipation of further violence, 10,000 members of the National Guard were deployed to Washington DC. 

Police official have said that number could double by next week.

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