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View Diary: See no evil: photojournalism and the Iraq war (141 comments)

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  •  Photos of Americans Killed in Combat (none)
      Until the Gulf War, this was common.
      The WW II photos of two dead American soldiers, half buried in tidal sand, on the island of New Guinea, were the first to be released to the WW II civilian world of the United States.  What followed was a massive deluge of more and more such photos, which brought home to the American public, that this WAS War.
      I have viewed pictures of dead Iraqis by the hundreds.  I am preparing to be trained as a Draft Counselor here in Southern New Mexico, and have already been into local high schools.  Some of us (Vietnam veterans -- all wounded in combat), have spoken as warriors who ALL volunteered to go to Vietnam -- and all came to the conclusions that the Vietnam War was wrong and so, too, is THIS WAR.
       I was very seriously wounded on Nov 3, 1966.  My right arm was nearly shot off by a VC who was less than 15 feet from me .. completely hidden in thick jungle.  The first round went so close to my left ear lobe that I FELT the sound barrier as it passed by me.  I began to turn, flick the safety off my M-16, and was turning into a crouching, firing position when the second round knocked me two or three feet off my feet.
       I have thought about this a LOT.
       I would NOT have wanted anyone to photograph me while I was dying.  Take note: while I was dying.
       I was 19, and it suddenly  hit me, as the shock ebbed and the pain came on full bore (I never passed out), that I might be dying 14,000 from my Mom, Dad, and sisters and brother.
    It was incredibly difficult to think I was going to die.  I asked a lieutenant if I could hold his wrist, while I writhed in pain.
       Some who were there, came by, and called  me a "pussy" because I had made too much noise in the first five minutes, before the morphine began to take hold. It was the second pop of morphine that eventually quelled the most egregious pain.
       I think I cried.
       I was in the midst of men my age, some a few older ... the ones who were near me, suddenly, my Mom and Dad and brother and sisters.  This is what happens when men (and now, women) die in combat, thousands of miles from home.
    Other men and women, their buddies, become surrogate Mothers, Fathers, Friends, Siblings, as we go off into the next realm.
       That is TOO FUCKING PRIVATE to have someone nearby, snapping photos.  Waaaaaaaay too fucking private.
        That should not be allowed.
        But, once an American soldier has died, then photos should be taken, tastefully, of the dead man or woman. However, no photos of that man or woman should EVER be released until the family is fully aware of the circumstances of the death, and that the death has occured.
        One of the nastiest aspects of the Vietnam War was that soldiers did, I think, die on camera, or were shown shortly thereafter, and the photos were shown in the States, BEFORE the next of kin knew what had happened.  That's irresponsible, and one of the greatest affronts to military members doing their jobs.
        I do most assuredly favor showing the most graphic details of combat casualties.  UnderMars 54 - 58 show some incredibly horrific photos.  One shows an Iraqi man's head stuck to an Armored Personnel Carrier's treads.  And the caption is like: "Do I REALLY have to clean THAT off, Sarge?"
        The captions tell you all you need to know about how savage, and mean, 18, 19, 20 year olds become in combat.
        And dismemberments, traumatic amputations, traumatic
    disembowelments, etc., ARE the true face of combat in the modern world.
        Compared to the carnage of Vietnam, there is even more now.  The calibers and velocities of the ammunition does horrific shit to bodies.  I believe that we, who are standing in opposition to this piece of shit wear, have an obligation to inform young folks of the websites where they can find this carnage depicted.
        It is unbelieveable what happens when a human body takes ten or fifteen M-16 rounds.  Not like video games or movies or TV.  It is numbing to see the families of the recently slain, or dismembered, come out and pick up their relatives.  I saw that the first time I saw a Vienamese soldier killed.
        You don't get over that! Those things never leave you.
        And, the carnage in Iraq is unbelievable.
        And part of the insider "black humor" is about Arabs (all the ethnic names) getting waxed.  But those who are about to enlist should see those photos.
        So, no to showing an American or Iraqi dying.
        Yes, to photos of the dead and maimed ... after proper notification has occured.
        If the Press cannot wait for proper notification, then I question their true motives in asking these questions.  If they really don't care, then they will reap the consequences of the American people.  They must respect these boundaries, but if they remember that these photos show fellow Americans, or fellow world members -- Iraqis -- in their death postures ... then perhaps the true nature of war can be properly conveyed to billions who have never experienced war.
        Perhaps, then, the Human Family can say: screw this shit!
        Defeat George Bush! Dick Cheney! Donald Rumsfeld! Saddam Hussein. Kim Jong Il.  ANY politician who so blithely sends Americans, Iraqis, North Koreans ... to be blasted to bits ... for bullshit ideas.

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