Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Sarah Palin and the ultimate sacrifice

There have been protests over the distribution of a photograph of a wounded marine by the AP. Secretary Gates blames lack of judgement and common decency:
I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard's death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family's wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right - but judgment and common decency.
Sarah Palin, through her Facebook ghostwriter, goes further and accuses the AP of being evil:
Shame on the AP for purposely adding to the grieving family's pain. Ignoring the family's wishes by publishing a sacred image of their loved one proved a despicable and heartless act by the AP. The family said they didn't want the photo published. AP, you did it anyway, and you know it was an evil thing to do.
The AP responded to Secretary Gates:
The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan.

The image shows fellow Marines helping Bernard after he suffered severe leg injuries. He was evacuated to a field hospital where he died on the operating table.

The picture was taken by Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson, who accompanied Marines on the patrol and was in the midst of the ambush during which Bernard was wounded. She had photographed Bernard on patrol earlier, and subsequently covered the memorial service held by his fellow Marines after his death...

Journalists embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan must sign a statement accepting a series of rules... Critics also maintain some of the rules are aimed at sanitizing the war, minimizing the sacrifice and cruelty which were graphically depicted by images from the Civil War to Vietnam where such restrictions were not in place...

An AP reporter met with his parents, allowing them to see the images.

Bernard's father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son's memory. John Bernard reiterated his viewpoint in a telephone call to the AP on Wednesday.
"We understand Mr. Bernard's anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war. The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice," said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski.
This was a difficult decision to make. They had to balance the responsibility of reporting and documenting the realities of war against the sensibilities of a stricken soldier's family.

Julie Jacobson is not the first photographer to record such a common occurrence in a war zone. There is a long history of shocking pictures of the casualties of various conflicts.

In the early 1920s, Ernst Friedrich put together a book of truly haunting images of dead and wounded German soldiers with incisive captions - Krieg Dem Kriege (War Against War) and went on to found an anti-war museum in Berlin. In 1933, when the Nazis started ascending to power, Friedrich's book was deemed subversive and his museum dismantled. His book was not only anti-war, it showed fallen German soldiers, undermining the image of the superiority of the German army, which was unacceptable to the regime.

The Second World War was powerfully documented, as were the Vietnam conflict and others. Many photographers and journalists won prizes, many died in war zones themselves. Some of the pictures are indelibly etched in our memories.

Robert Capa, Germany 1945. Larry Burrows, Vietnam. Catherine Leroy, Vietnam

Each soldier, each civilian killed or maimed in any conflict has a grieving family. Should all frontline photography be banned in the name of common decency? Is it evil to portray the horrors of war or publish an essay that pays tribute to the "brave men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms"?

Are we supposed to imagine war as some abstract event that happens very far away, devoid of blood and guts, where the ultimate sacrifice is something to be used as a soundbite by cynical politicians but never seen?

(Some of the photos from War Against War can be found here. They are very graphic and disturbing. Consider your own sensibilities before you click)


whothemom7754 said...

Eloquently argued. Thank you. As the mother of a Marine, I found I could not find the words to say "We must see the agony as well as the glory" as well as you have.

nswfm CA said...

For someone who talks about "prayer warriors" and uses war language in her idiotic ramblings, $P needs a big fat dose of reality. Rapture would be a real bitch after everything that is supposed to precede such ridiculousness.

Anonymous said...

If he had been my son, I would have been proud to have that photograph displayed. That young man sacrificed his life for his country and hiding it is shameful.

Anonymous said...

Palin is only an opportunist. If that had been her son, she would have badges made and worn them, while she exploited her son over and over and over. Oh yes. Sorry. She already has exploited her children. Never mind.

Anonymous said...

I think the wishes of the family should have been respected.

I agree that we need to see the tragic effects of war, and be reminded daily that we don't take our soldiers for granted.

But, Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, has every right to speak his mind about this. But Sarah Palin? It is sickening that she parrots R. Gates, to make herself look significant. She quit as governor.

Of course, anyone has a right to their opinion, but, SP knows her following is a group that would have her on a national stage. Her only motive to pen that comment was purely selfish motive. The woman never showed any concern for these issues of Governor, or to the people of Alaska.

It would seem she still has a grudge against the media. Her comment is all about attacking the media - for past abuses from the media to Miss Sarah. In the end, it's all about her.
And, to use this tragedy as a means to "get back" at the AP, is purely evil.

Anonymous said...

Attacking the media is one of her Crazy Church mandates.

You know, when she's not out hunting witches and praying for the end of the world, and expecting to see Jesus in her lifetime.

RunninL8 said...

"The needs of many outway the needs of the few." ~Mr. Spock

Bell said...

I want the war in Afghanistan to end. If photos such as this one helps Americans realize the atrocity of war then, they are needed. I hope photos of the civilian and military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are pasted/postered on to the Bush library that he is building as part of his legacy.

basheert said...

I would like all of you to think back to Pat Tillman, the former Cardinal football player that was knowingly killed by "friendly fire" and whose death was USED and LIED ABOUT with the collusion of our "media" to promote the war in Iraq.

General MacChrystal who is the current general in AFghanistan, triggered that public frenzy and engineered the use of Pat Tillman's death to promote military service.

Why is it that when a soldier dies and his death is used by the military to "manufacture" a hero in battle when in reality he was killed by his own men, that is ok with our government.

But when a photo is shown of a wounded soldier who LATER dies, it is EVIL.

No, what is evil is WAR.

My hubs ran a 1,000 MediVac Hospital in Japan during 'Nam. I cannot describe to you the HORRORS that he saw. And these were the ones who actually survived in the field long enough to make it there.
War does nasty things to human bodies. We have docs here who have joined up and are going to trauma centers in Germany. The head trauma from this war alone is appalling.

What is happening is that so many survive. That wasn't the case in 'nam, although the survival rate was better than WWII or Korea. I'm saying this because of the massive numbers of head injuries that are coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan. These injuries are survivable but not necessarily compatible with living happily.

These are men/women and our children who BLEED. Body parts are bent, broken and fragmented. War is filthy and ugly.

The use of this picture should have been done after permission yes. But this young man was not dead. He was "hit" and "wounded" - he died later.

Think bank to WWII, Korea and 'nam. How many dead, maimed and broken bleeding bodies did we see every night on TV. It took that to get us aroused enough to stop that bloody war.

Bring on the photos .. living color please. All of them. We need to see the meat grander that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney created so we can stop this filthy war.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin is demagogueing the issues. Not only this AP issue, but also the death panels. She wants to scare people. I think it got started when she was in college. There is an article in the LA Times, where she confesses to what is a felony in many jurisdictions. What she did in college was to raise an alarm, just like she's been trying to do lately. The thing is that in college it was a literal alarm, a fire alarm, that she pulled when there was no fire. Just something to raise a ruckus and get everyone's attention. It's amazing that some people never do grow up! Well she established her m.o. many years ago and has stayed true to form. She loves to set off alarms!

Here is the link. I believe it's on the third page that you'll read about her pulling the alarm:

Anonymous said...

Sarah is an alarmist! She's a "Little Shop of Horrors" just like the McCain campaign said--wanting to scare people, liking to "shock."

BuffaloGal said...

This is a tough one for me. I side with the grieving family as well as the greater good. If the family specifically asked , well... I think their broken hearts should have been respected. I also think that there are plenty of photos that could be used to show the horrors of this war. There's no shortage, that's for sure. On the other hand, I want this war that has become senseless, to end. The true story by way of photos will hasten that.

However, Palin's use of this moment was sickening and , once again, as she always does, she made a difficult situation much, much worse. She is walking, talking, breathing vortex of negative energy and she leaves a hideous black mark on everything she touches.

Very well done take on this Regina. Thank you.

( Oy! WV = trooth dang!)

Anonymous said...

@Anon 18:39 -- you really nailed it. She just loves to set off that alarm! LOOK AT ME! And she is doing exactly the same with her faux outrage about the photo of Joshua Bernard and "evil" media that published it.
It is the horrible reality of war that is “evil” – not the photos that document it, nor the journalists who risk their lives to take such photos, nor even the editors who make the difficult decision to publish them.
I do understand that the family must find it harrowing to see this image in the press, especially at this time.
But as this picture of their son goes round the world, it brings home the reality of the situation to millions of people in a way that sanitized film footage of anonymous flag-draped caskets can never do.
Perhaps it might even make a difference.
It is obscene that Sarah Palin should see fit to chastise AP for this, while she herself revels in false sentimentality about a “selfless young American” she never even knew but will “never forget”, and indulges in pseudo-religious waffle about “our sorrow” and “his sacrifice” and the “evil” of the media who published this “sacred” image.
She claims that Joshua Bernard went there to “defend our freedom”. How does she know?
Many young men and women enter military service to “defend our freedom”. Many do so to carve out a career, or learn a skill, or see the world (please watch the recruitment adverts before you criticise me for saying this). Once they have signed up, they are deployed as the government sees fit – sometimes to defend “our freedom”, sometimes to defend the freedom of others. Both of these aims are justifiable and admirable. Sometimes, however, they are deployed simply to defend the freedom of corporate interests. That is “evil”.
Sorry to ramble on....

Anonymous said...

She has gone beyond e-v-i-l.

She is purely hateful.