Readers respond to 'Hostage: The Jill Carroll Story'

A fair assessment of captors

Jill Carroll's account of her ordeal is riveting. As someone who just returned from seven years of teaching in Egypt, I appreciate the accuracy of her details in verbally illustrating her captors. While I found many people in Egypt virulently against American government policies, I felt that their political views did not taint the way they treated me personally.

I appreciate Jill's fairness in her ability to recognize this quality in her captors (despite going through such a horrendous ordeal) and to write so honestly about her experience. What she points out is the paradox between what her captors believe is "doing right" for their country and "following God's will" in their cause, and what they know to be right – as their culture and religion dictate – in how they should treat another human being, particularly a woman.
Marrin Robinson
Marlboro, Vt.

Jill's journalism: personal, informative

I want to thank you for publishing this very important story. Often extreme stories like this can be told to gain readership. I am a journalism major in my senior year in college. Jill's account of her experience is one that is not only personal but informative, giving the reader insight into a world we only see on television. Her intellect, spirit, and bravery set an example for humanity.

In addition, hers represents the kind of journalism that should be practiced by all news media. Thank you again for not exploiting her story and presenting it in a way that honors her strength and courage.
Leslie Carleton
Jupiter, Fla.

Warm wishes from a marine

I just wanted to contact you as a man, a father, an American, and a marine to let you know how moving the Monitor's series on Jill Carroll's captivity is. I met Ms. Carroll briefly in Husaybah, Iraq, as a combat correspondent attached to the 6th Civil Affairs Group. It is here that Ms. Carroll had the conversation with the platoon commander in Part 3 of the series, where he said a platoon of marines would come for her were she ever captured. While we could not effect her rescue, it was, in fact, a company of marines who eventually captured some of her abductors. That was somewhat satisfying.

It was a punch in the gut seeing Jill's face on screen while I was eating at a chow hall in Al Asad – safely in the rear area, eating a warm meal while this woman I had only briefly interacted with was pleading for her life.

I wish her all the best of luck and my deepest and most sincere wishes that she is able to recover from her protracted captivity and the death of her friend and interpreter, Alan Enwiya. As a father, I also extend to her parents the relief I feel at her safe return. God bless you, Jill! You showed courage and strength I only hope I possess.
Sgt. Stephen M. DeBoard
Jacksonville, N.C.
2nd Marine Division, Public Affairs

Will the series affect other hostages?

I have been following Ms. Carroll's story chapter by chapter. I appreciate the reporting of her story. But I wonder if she has considered, by reporting the fact that she felt mistreated (even though her captors went out of their way to make her a sympathetic victim), that it would influence the treatment of current hostages?

I understand that hostages have been tortured and killed before Ms. Carroll's ordeal, and I am by no means putting this on her. It is just something that is in the back of my mind when I read this. I think she is very, very brave, along with this paper's staff, to report this.
Theresa Russell
San Diego

Grace in handling the critics

Dear Jill: After an ordeal as wrenching as your kidnapping, your ability to present the complexities of the region as clearly and as fairly as you have speaks volumes to your intellect and talent as a journalist.

While watching the interviews of you responding to e-mails from the public, I was enraged by the person who labeled you a fraud and a traitor.

My heart went out to you as you struggled to respond, and then, with a grace and aplomb that I would never have managed myself, you presented one of the most eloquent and magnificent defenses I have ever heard of the free press.

And you respectfully but firmly reminded us all of the responsibility we have to seek out knowledge to inform our decisions.

You have said that you are not a hero. Ms. Carroll, I most respectfully disagree. You are a shining example of the best aspects of the human spirit.
Hans Utz
San Francisco

Keep correspondents from harm

War correspondents have taken risks and risked their lives for decades. Danger does go with the territory. That said, I think the current trend toward putting correspondents in harm's way, be it hurricanes or terrorists, is a bit overboard. We could manage with less coverage, or less in-depth coverage, and save a few lives.

News organizations that choose to do otherwise should be willing to pony up the dollars to hire security and be sure that their employees are safe.

Please inform Jill Carroll that my family and I prayed for her every day of her captivity, and I urged the group of senior citizens whom I pastor to do the same. She was never far from our thoughts during those weeks of captivity.
Michael Ross
Forest Grove, Ore.

Was the media blackout a good idea?

While I can certainly see why the Monitor felt a news blackout would help ensure Jill Carroll's safety, and why other news agencies voluntarily went along with it for a time, I think it was wrong.

People must know the news that they are given is as complete, as accurate, and as objective as possible. Any reason for a weakening of that bond of trust, even a reason like this one, is not reason enough to break the faith journalists have with the public.

It's not an easy issue, and I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision. Nonetheless, I want my news untampered with; in fact, I depend on that.

Don't limit the facts I'm told for my own (or someone else's) good; that's not your decision to make.
Janet Margul
Plano, Texas

I'm glad the media did black out the news in the first hours. It is absolutely the right thing to do if it might save a life. I just wonder if the media would have been as cooperative if the hostage had not been a journalist, one of their own.
Jim Allison
Naperville, Ill.

How to counter religious fanaticism

I just read the first five parts of the Jill Carroll story and was prompted to offer my thanks and congratulations first and foremost for Jill's safe return, and, second, to all involved in this poignant and worthwhile read.

The juxtaposition of the brutality of the murder of Jill's translator with the sentiment one of the captives showed in trying to console her while she was crying illustrates something quite foreign to me as an American reader.

But it comes as no surprise that there is humanity in even the most ruthless of killers, and it is this appeal to a person's humanity that will eventually win the war on religious extremism at home and abroad.

This conflict that claimed the life of Alan – and nearly the life of Jill – cannot, will not be won through strength of arms, but by the soundness of our morality and our unwavering commitment to it.
Russell Claus
Lewisville, Ohio

To overcome religious extremism, religious leaders throughout the world need to promote the ideals of tolerance of other beliefs. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all branches of the same form of monotheism, and all follow the golden rule.

They need to promote the concept that religious beliefs are personal and are not something that becomes a divisive force in their relations with other human beings.
John Hodgkins

A chaplain's gratitude for Jill's release

My unit was blessed to have Jill Carroll spend a number of weeks with us last fall. Her professionalism and dedication to her calling impressed not only this chaplain, but every member of 3rd battalion, 6th Marines.

I am so thankful for the successful end to her captivity and for this message she is now able to communicate to the world.

Praise the Lord for Jill, her family, and the Monitor family who stood by her. Thank God for His love and answered prayer.
Bryan Crittendon
Virginia Beach, Va.

The Jill Carroll series ran Aug. 14-28.

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