Checking around for recent blog entries on Kevin Sites the other night, I came across a reference to a month-old blog called “Fallujah in Pictures” (the title’s since been changed to “Iraq in Pictures”). It’s a roughly executed collection of news-service war pictures. I could do without some of the repetitive images and the heavy-handed attempts at anti-war irony (the power of the images is what they say themselves to each viewer, not the spin you try to put on them). The caveat for anyone who goes to the site is that much of what’s shown is quite graphic; not what we’re used to seeing on the news or in the paper. But that’s the main point and what makes the site valuable: To the extent we, the people care what’s happening over there, we’re getting a cleaned-up version of events. Occasionally, we’ve gotten some fine front-line reporting on our troops’ experience. Beyond that, we get precise casualty counts for our guys. We get a rough though probably unreliable accounting of the number of enemy fighters we’re killing. The press gives casualty tolls for the intensifying insurgent attacks across Iraq. We get foggy, inconclusive numbers for civilians killed in the continuing festivities. We get senior officials and military officers downplaying the extent and severity of the insurgency and pretty much refusing to talk about the impact on Iraqis unless it serves our purpose. The pictures have a way of cutting through that, and the site has a way of cutting through our news media’s reluctance to show the public the whole face of the war we’re engaged in.
The link: “Iraq in Pictures.”
2 Replies to “The War in Pictures”
Well anyway, to continue what I started earlier and apparently didn’t have time to clean up (gramatically). I suppose my point is that “We the people” are taking on a quality of collective denial. I mean, who really wants to look at these grisly pictures, they’re a real downer. And it isn’t any one incident or its depiction in photos that is so troubling. It is the culture of lying to ourselves about the nature of what is happening to the country. You probably read the recent story about Pat Tillman in the Washington Post. It basically states that the army pretty much whitewashed the cicumstances surrounding his death in Afghanistan, painitng a herioc ending to the guy’s life when he was just killed in a series f**k-ups. For me, it is another piece in a larger picture of deception. Couple these and many other relatively small things with an utterly reckless fiscal policy, down-sizing our national committment to basic scientific and engineering research, education, health care, and so forth and our returning vets could be in for disappointing times, not to mention the rest of us citizens.
Hey, John, you’ve nailed it there: “the culture of lying to ourselves.” I was just looking at the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq so far: 1,270. I was thinking, that’s enough for a memorial, and soon, someone will propose that. But it won’t be like the Vietnam Memorial. That came out of a brief moment when the country was facing the truth of what it had just gone through. The resulting monument is simple and sober, and of course opponents of taking a straight-up view to Vietnam have been trying to undo the memorial ever since it was unveiled. Imagine if we were building that monument now: It would be something soaring and heroic to celebrate our success in defending our values.