Sunday, October 09, 2005

Humanity dehumanized

RawStory points us to a website, , operated by an expatriate American, which is a collection of original pictures taken from the Iraq war. These pictures are pretty graphic in nature, many of them depicting the gory by-products of war, including severed limbs, heads and exposed brains. Some pictures also catch American soldiers in their day to day activities, some as trivial as lying on a bunkbed. Many people have criticized the website, saying these pictures glorify war. Others claim they are performing mankind a service by bringing home the actual horrors of war to armchair warmongerers. While some claim putting up pictures of dead Americans on the website helps the enemy.

My take on this is a bit different. Leave aside the question whether or not putting up these pictures on display performs any public service whatsoever. What I am concerned with are the captions accompanying these pictures. The author of this website claims that these captions have been faithfully reproduced from those accompanying the pictures that were sent to him. The captions, then, are a commentary of the person who probably took that picture. Some of these captions showcase an extreme callousness towards human life. Some captions are racist . But what is made abundantly clear by these pictures and their captions is the devastating effect that war has on human sensibilities and our outlook towards human life.

A face, frozen in an expression of muted surprise, trails a wormy, bloodied vertebrae. Below it, a caption penned by an American soldier: “new meaning to giving head.” A bearded man, his bloody-crusted shirt accordioned below his neck, bears, “come on and give me some sugar.” Typed beneath a cross-eyed, lacerated corpse with one arm extended, are the words, “oo, ooo, pick me.”

Of peripheral interest in all this, is the picture of an American tank crunching over some human remains, presumably insurgent remains, with the caption (warning : extremely graphic content) :

“10 points fo every pun-jab you hit.”

I guess there are still Americans who associate the headgear worn by the Sikh community with those worn by the terrorists. I sincerely believe every American who gets sent out on combat missions needs to undergo a course in Culture 101. But there is another issue here. Putting up such pictures, with blatantly racist captions might incite more crazy right-wing assholes to carry out hate crimes against the already beleaguered Sikh community here in the United States.

Look at these pictures (if you can) and weep for humanity.

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