“this is the face”
“I had an idea of what my character should look like and one day I was flipping through something and I saw a picture of her and said ‘that is the face’. I didn’t think anyone would notice.”
and in his extended apology:
I grabbed photos of a woman whom I have never met who looked exactly like what Amina should look like.
Except Tom MacMaster didn’t pick one of those faces, which are, you know, actually Syrian women protesters. He picked this face:
If you want to read analysis, I’ll recommend responses from Sami Hamwi and Daniel Nassar (two actual Syrian LGBT activists), Zeynep Tufekci, Mircea, Liz Henry, Ethan Zuckerman, Sappho, Maya Mikdashi, Jillian York, Amira Al Hussaini, and Helen de Cruz.
I don’t have their patience to spend my energy on this asshole, so I won’t add much to the discussion. But I think we would be remiss if we didn’t think a little bit about why MacMaster chose the particular face he did, why it was so important that this light-skinned, close-mouthed, downcast image of a Croatian woman be his face of the gay Syrian revolution. And it’s also worth noting the endgame he had planned:
I was going to end the story with having her be free, and get out of country — end of story.
Tom MacMaster’s “Freedom” is not a group of brown women shouting in solidarity with signs and heads covered, demanding that Syria is their country. Freedom is a single white face, a delicate femininity performing innocent submission for the camera, an “out” blogger who appears to have no community to be out to, a Syrian who is really an American, and the “ultimate outsider” who ends the story when she escapes from the Middle East, presumably, to return to the USA.