The byline caught my eye. Beneath an incomprehensible headline about an increasingly complicated and bloody war (“In Besieged Area of Syria, Bitterness of Sunnis Points to Rending of Sects”), I read “By an Employee of The New York Times and Anne Barnard.” Anne Barnard is an experienced foreign correspondent for the Times. But who is the unnamed employee, and why is he or she nameless? Even the dateline is vague” “Near Qusayr, Syria.” Clearly Barnard is outside Syria, but the lead reporter is traveling with a rebel group in an area of the most intense fighting. Yesterday, as the Syrian army was recapturing the town of Qusayr, the nameless reporter described a people in misery and a landscape laid waste.
The reporter gives us, when he can, the names of the fighters and the victims. To humanize an inhuman existence, he has put his own life in peril, for in this war, as in so many like it around the world, there is no sanctuary for correspondents. Nor is there for others who work anonymously in the midst of carnage to ease the suffering. Red Crescent (The Islamic Red Cross) workers care for victims without regard to their status or politics. Doctors treat all the wounded, operating in makeshift basements without anesthetics or drugs. In a war in which the combatants have become unbendingly sectarian, killing those who are different because they are different, these medical workers, volunteers and reporters risk their lives on behalf of our common humanity.