Reading The Pictures: Iraqi Coverage Scared to Death


Throughout the whole Iraq war, I have seen only one photo of a U.S. battlefield fatality in the MSM.

Not that anyone would wish to advocate for more. But it does speak to the fantastic job of this Administration in shielding and sanitizing the war, so that it remains -- in most cases -- a distant abstraction. To neutralize does not bring erasure, however. Rather, what we are left with is the reality of unreality. One of the most acute recent examples was Tony Snow's comment the other day that the 2,500th U.S. military death in Iraq was "just a number."

Ironically, the subject of today's NYT front-page article beside this photo had to do with the extensive and wrenching problems plaguing the processing of soldier's death benefits. Repeating the abstraction theme, Holly Wren, who lost her husband, Lt. Col. Thomas Wren, in Iraq in November, tells the reporter:

"You are a number, and your husband is a number.... They need to understand that we are more than that."

As with much politically-relevant despair these days, the press all too willingly supplies the filter to clean up the Administration's "loose ends." The shot in this morning's Times exemplifies the defacto blackout. The caption explains the symbolism of the clothing: one our own was mortally wounded on this spot yesterday near Ramadi. In contrast, the image -- confusing abstraction with poetry -- gives light to one more forsaken American ... boot.

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(image: Joao Silva for the New York Times. June 27, 2006. p. A1)