One year ago this month, Vogue Magazine published a glowing profile piece of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife, Asma. Over the last year, Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour has defended her magazine’s portrayal of the Syrian First Lady despite the brutal crackdown in Syria by Asma’s husband’s regime that has killed more than 8,000 citizen protesters.
This week, President Barack Obama invited Wintour to the White House for the coveted State Dinner of America’s greatest ally – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The invite is yet another signal that Obama doesn’t understand how important Syria’s future is to U.S. national security.
Not only has Obama ignored the Syrian people’s cry for help, but he is honoring and rewarding the woman who celebrated the killer’s wife in the pages of a fashion magazine.
Vogue has since deleted the profile piece from its pages. But for a refresher, here are some controversial quotes from writer Joan Juliet Buck:
- “When I first arrive, I’m met on the tarmac by a minder, who gives me a bouquet of white roses and lends me a Syrian cell phone; the head minder, a high-profile American PR, joins us the next day. The first lady’s office has provided drivers, so I shop and see sights in a bubble of comfort and hospitality.” The high profile American PR firm working for the Syrian regime is the notorious firm of Brown Llyod James.
- “The old al-Assad family apartment was remade into a child-friendly triple-decker playroom loft surrounded by immense windows on three sides. With neither shades nor curtains, it’s a fishbowl. Asma al-Assad likes to say, “You’re safe because you are surrounded by people who will keep you safe.” Neighbors peer in, drop by, visit, comment on the furniture. The president doesn’t mind: “This curiosity is good: They come to see you, they learn more about you. You don’t isolate yourself.”
- “Asma al-Assad empties a box of fondue mix into a saucepan for lunch. The household is run on wildly democratic principles. “We all vote on what we want, and where,” she says.”
- “I can’t talk about empowering young people, encouraging them to be creative and take responsibility, if I’m not like that with my own children.”
- “The president joins in the punch line: “Brad Pitt wanted to send his security guards here to come and get some training!”
- “This is the diversity you want to see in the Middle East,” says the president, ringing his bell. “This is how you can have peace!”
Is what’s going on in Syria the kind of peace Wintour was thinking of? And more importantly, is this piece something that President Obama should honor by inviting its unapologetic editor to a White House State Dinner?