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Letters 04-21-2014

An Exercise of Power

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Don‘t Show Me our Dead Soldiers

George Foster - July 8th, 2004
Recently, when a mother invited the media to film and broadcast the remains of a U.S. soldier arriving in the United States, her son‘s casket became the first of almost 900 American troops killed in the Iraq conflict to be made public.
The mother claimed that it was not her intent to protest the Bush administration policy of disallowing the press to film the body bags as done in Viet Nam. She apparently wanted to honor her son with media coverage, a fine man by all accounts. Yet, President Bush is correct when he asserts that such public coverage should be the mother‘s choice as next of kin, not decided by some TV station or reporter.
I haven‘t seen Michael Moore‘s blockbuster movie Fahrenheit 9/11 but I understand there are some graphic scenes of battle and the aftermath. In general, it is the obligation of the press to show the violence of combat. How can those of us who have not experienced military service make informed decisions in the voting booth for our future leaders without every bit of information we can muster up - including the carnage of war.
Personally, I draw the line in front of the dead that are identifiable or identified. I don‘t want to see the image of someone‘s son blow to bits by a terrorist car bomb, not to mention the victim of a terrible car accident on Main St. in Northern Michigan. Even viewing a dead Iraqi that will be recognized by his family in Baghdad is inappropriate. My belief is not because such graphic scenes are of questionable taste or because sickos have been known to commit similar murders to attract attention. Primarily, these images need be avoided because family members should be allowed to grieve in private.
Though common decency cannot be legislated, it is disturbing to hear talking heads like Fox News‘ Neil Cavuto argue that American Nicholas Berg‘s beheading should be aired on the major TV networks to drive home to America how brutal the terrorists are that we are fighting. What about Berg‘s grieving family, Neil?
Cavuto is either sadistic or believes the American public is a collection of total morons. Few people need to view an actual beheading during the family hours to understand how brutal these terrorists are. Though he favored public viewing of beheadings, Cavuto didn‘t agree with the airing of graphic scenes of Iraqi prisoners being tortured. Cavuto and others may want to downplay prison abuse crimes for political reasons, but most of those images should be published if only to ensure that Americans will be deterred from torturing helpless detainees again.
Illustrating where I think the media should draw the line, the only prison abuse photograph that I thought should not have been published was of a smiling G.I. hovering over a dead Iraqi prisoner packed in ice. I loathed that image the most - not because the people who staged the photo were evil, not because the Iraqi may have been murdered while in prison, but because a mourning Iraqi family now has to deal with their loss being broadcast around the world. Is a little time for grieving in private too much to ask for the next of kin?
Ironically, the dead Iraqi packed in ice did not convey as jarring an impact as healthy prisoners stripped naked and humiliated into performing various unnatural acts. As is often the case, there was no constructive purpose for the media to show actual footage of a recognizable corpse. The torturing of live prisoners alone is enough to haunt Americans for the rest of our lifetimes.
Bottom line - give us the truth wherever it goes short of showing us the bodies of our loved ones.



 
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