Thursday, August 05, 2004

A Mercenary's Corpse is Worth a Thousand Words

Dear Editor,

A picture says a lot, especially when it is a picture of the charred, hanging body of an American mercenary. Almost 600 American soldiers and somewhere around 10,000 Iraqi civilians are dead (countless thousands of Iraqi military conscripts were also slaughtered but our government will never tell us how many). The Post Star hasn’t printed a single picture of a dead body in relation to this war in an entire year. Not one! You have been “sheltering” us from the awful truth. Why this sudden change of policy?

We are all adversely affected when we see a picture like this. Most of us care about living things and this evidence of what we are capable of doing in our darkest moments is truly awful. What humans have done throughout history in the name of freedom, defense, tyranny, religion, honor (or oil, as in this case) is truly awful. But, it’s not the picture that gives me pause. It’s the letters people wrote complaining that it was inappropriate, disturbing and tasteless. Nonsense. War photos should be on the front page of the paper every single day.

If unthinking people wish to cheer on wars of empire and glorify the murder of innocents and mercenaries alike, they should, at the very least, be forced to see the end result of their ignorance on a daily basis. Unlike the soldiers and civilians they have plunged into Hell with their complicity and cheerleading, the American newspaper reader can simply turn the page. Trying to bully your local paper into self-censorship is a supreme act of cowardice and is patently un-American.

Showing atrocities to those who would glorify them is a great way to end wars (as with Vietnam). In war, children get killed, atrocities are committed and life is arbitrarily ended, every single day. If you can’t accept seeing this in the paper, how can you accept the act of war itself? Many readers have chosen to “kill the messenger". Perhaps, it would be more productive to re-think their own complacency and ignorance and what it has wrought?

War happens because, we, the people, allow it. We are responsible for the man hanging from the bridge. We caused him to be there. Look at the picture. Own up to it. It is the truth and we should not be frightened by it, but learn from it.

Matt Funiciello

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