Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The War Photo No One Wanted to Publish

The Atlantic has an article about a war photo from the First Gulf War that supposedly none of the major media outlets would publish. This is the photo:

Photo of Dead Iraqi Soldier
It depicts a dead Iraqi soldier that burned to death in a vehicle during the disastrous (for the Iraqis) route from Kuwait City. The article, itself, uses the photo of an example of implied censorship in the media.

I find myself unmoved by the article. Yes, the photo is grotesque. I would not want my children to see it. However, I've seen as bad or worse photos of victims of automobile fires, industrial accidents, and suicides. Yet, there is no outcry that photos of those incidents were not published to depict how horrible these incidents can be. And I wonder: where are the photos of the victims of the Iraqi forces? If a photojournalist only attempts to portray the horrors caused by American strikes, but ignores those perpetrated by the enemy--in effect, applying his own censorship--should I care that his one-sided photos are subsequently censored? Seems like karma, not injustice.

I also am forced to reflect on the censorship shown by the mass media today to project and protect a particular agenda, narrative, or view point. Again, why should I care when the censors are, themselves, censored? 

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