Lay Off the Iran Hikers
Backlash against Shourd and company is perplexing: Meghan Daum
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2011 2:23 PM CDT
In this May 21, 2010 file photo, American hikers Shane Bauer, left, Josh Fattal, center, and Sarah Shourd are shown in Tehran.   (AP Photo/Press TV, File)

(Newser) – You would think Americans would be lining up in support of the three American hikers arrested in Iran. But as Sarah Shourd began promoting a hunger strike to advocate for her companions’ freedom, Meghan Daum of the LA Times noticed a distinct and perplexing wave of “hiker hate” online, with “indignant bloggers and commenters characterizing the hikers as ‘morons,’ ‘idiots’ and ‘self-indulgent wackos,’” or even CIA spies. But it seems pretty clear to Daum that the three just made a mistake.

Their ill-advised hike into rarely traveled areas “seems like a particularly American form of hubris,” from people determined not to be “ugly Americans” on a guided tour. “So is hiker hate about blue versus red politics? About America-right-or-wrong patriotism? Or maybe the annoying earnestness of UC Berkley graduates?” No, Daum thinks it goes deeper. “It’s about justifying the American reluctance to travel outside our comfort zones.”