Friday, February 1, 2008

Can Atrocity Still Shock Us?

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the creation of a photograph from Vietnam that helped stop the war. The photo was taken by a fellow named Eddie Adams who was chronicling the war in Vietnam.

Like all event-changing photos, it was the product of both skill and luck. It takes skill to be in the right place at the right time, but it takes luck to capture the right image when all the time the photographer has is the tick it takes for a bullet to travel two feet. That’s what Adams did when he froze forever in time the moment when a South Vietnamese officer fired a bullet into the brain of a young man standing next to him with his hands tied behind his back. He was supposedly a Viet Cong, but that was beside the point. Our citizens reacted to the barbarity of the act.

The other world shaking photo was of a young girl running naked down a village street screaming in pain from the napalm burns inflicted upon her by our Air Force.

The U.S. was already in turmoil over the war in Vietnam when the photos were published, but there is no doubt that so many Americans were appalled by those images that their support for the war disappeared. The people wanted no more part in the barbaric slaughter that they saw daily on the evening body count and so graphically in those horrific photographs.

I wonder, though, what the reaction would be to similar images today. Would we see the same moral indignation in this nation as we did in 1968?

I think not. After all, we’ve already let the disgrace of Abu Ghraib slip into oblivion. Every day we ignore what’s going on in Guantanamo Bay. They don’t give us body counts any more. We aren’t even allowed to see the coffins of our own soldiers coming home for burial, let alone the rows of body bags we saw in Vietnam. We accept the idea of torturing prisoners as though it was business as usual. Just this week we have been subjected to Attorney General Mukasey’s slimy Congressional testimony when he repeatedly side-stepped making a definitive statement about waterboarding. Our children spend their free time in front of TVs and computers pushing buttons to fire AK-47s at the human beings pictured on the screen while imagining that they are pulling the trigger to kill whoever the programmer has put in front of them.

We go to church on Sunday and pray to the Prince of Peace then go home and send checks of support to candidates who pledge to keep us in Iraq for another 100 years if “necessary”. We cry crocodile tears over the “heroic sacrifice” of nearly 4,000 our own children in an entirely unnecessary war and completely ignore the thousands and thousands of Iraqi lives that have been taken as a result of our reckless abandonment of the principles we used to hold dear.

So would a photo of the cold-blooded assassination of a supposed Al Qaida soldier cause us to say enough is enough and get ourselves out of Iraq?

Not a chance. Not while there is still an SUV to drive. Not while there is still oil to be sucked out of the desert sands. Not while there is a neo-con anywhere near the Whitehouse. And not while the American people remain blind to the possibility that their biggest enemy is not in a cave somewhere in Pakistan, but in a mansion somewhere on the coast of this country; in a ranch house somewhere in Texas; in Washington lobbying for an arms manufacturer; on a stage debating for the right to be a president; or maybe in their own minds.

Cynical? Me??

An Invitation to Readers

If you are in the Springfield area, please come downtown tonight for First Friday and while you’re there, stop by The Front Porch (next to the Piano Bar and Nonna’s on South Street). I’ll be playing a set there at about 8 pm and would sure like to see you in the audience. If you do come, please introduce yourself as a reader. I’d love to meet you.

Minx & Miller will play at about 9.

It’s not a political setting, but who knows what may happen?!!

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

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