Michael van der Galien

9-Year Old Survivor of Plane Crash Heads Home

Posted on May 15 2010 1:00 pm
Michael van der Galien was born in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden in 1984. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with the United States. When he was 17 years old, he started blogging - of course about America. His articles have been published at Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, Hot Air (the GreenRoom) and Right Across The Atlantic. He's also an editor for the Dutch conservative blog, De Dagelijkse Standaard.
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Ruben, covered in blankets

Ruben, the Dutch boy who was the sole survivor of the terrible plane crash earlier this week in Tripoli, Libya, has gone back to the Netherlands. He wasn’t able to do so before today because he had to receive treatment in a Libyan hospital.

Although Ruben’s survival is absolutely miraculous, he did lose his mother, father and older brother. It seems that he will now be raised by his uncle and aunt.

Meanwhile, he is at the center of a major media scandal in the Netherlands. The country’s largest newspaper, the Telegraaf, proved that its longtime critics are right when they say that the newspaper’s editors have no sense of shame whatsoever. They had the audacity to sensationalize both the crash and Ruben’s suffering. The nine year old was hospitalized and his relatives had not yet told him that his parents and brother had died, because the shock would have been too great considering his physical weakness. The Dutch and Libyan governments tried to shelter this child from the media, most of whom showed that they actually have some morals and left him alone.

Except for the Telegraaf, that is. This newspaper secretly called with Ruben and interviewed him. The result of this conversation was, in the words of the newspaper itself, “a heartbreaking interview.” They promoted it to the best of their abilities, thinking it would help them sell a few extra copies.

Well, the fallout was tremendous. Readers have started a campaign to boycott the newspaper for its irresponsible behavior and its editors eventually felt forced to apologize for their actions.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s all too little and especially too late. You don’t exploit a young boy’s injuries and terrible loss of his parents and brother to make a quick buck. When you do, you prove that you’re beyond saving, that you’re not a journalist, but a vulture.

Let’s hope that Ruben’s aunt and uncle will be there for him and succeed in keeping the jackals from the mainstream media away. In the meantime, I’m happy that I canceled my own membership of the Telegraaf a few days before the terrible crash and the subsequent controversial interview.

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