17 June 2006

Regarding the Pain of Iraqis

Susan Sontag starts her last book Regarding the Pain of Others by reflecting on whether pictures of war and its consequences can have any determinate impact. I think her book is confused in many, many ways. But her basic question is appropriate - what impact can such photos of pain and siffering have on those who view them from a safe distance? This morning on Alternet there is an essay by David Swanson who is active in a variety of progrssive orgainzations. The essaay, entitled "Iraq's War Porn" carries the following sub-heading: "We believe the war would end if the media showed more images of the human horrors in Iraq, yet we turn away when they're placed in front of us. Not anymore." Two things are striking. The first is the analogy to pornography. I won't comment here except to say that this is an analogy that seems worth exploring. Second, the Alternet post provides links to a set of exceptionally disturbing photos like the one dispalyed here that are posted at AfterDowningStreet.org . Can you bear them? Would they have the impact of generating outrage aat the war and deceit and descruction? Moral outrage, I think, is wholly inadequate and perhaps self-defeating. Where are the politics? Swanson poses the same quesiton as Sontag and places his bets. What do you think?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that no comments have been posted (after several days) speaks to how conflicted/apathetic people are regarding this issue. I must say that I'm in complete agreement with Mr. Swanson- we should be deluged with these images every damn day until we puke or put an end to this madness.

21 June, 2006 16:37  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Thanks for the comment. I have to say I was a bit surprised by the silence. But I rarely get comments on anything here - not a complaint just a fact. I do have to say that I think the media and "opposition" are largely supine. But I am not sure that even pictures of dead Iraqi children are going to motivate many Americans to actively oppose the war. All I hear about - even among those "opposed" to the war - as a casue for concern is the number of American boys killed over there (and of course the tax expense). Of course, my home town newspaper won;t even carry the statistics on dead and wounded Americans, let alone photos of caualties. So there are two questions: What the hell is the press and the political opposition up to? and, even if they were more resolute in opposing the war, would they find a constituency here?

21 June, 2006 21:25  

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