I was browsing the internet last night when I came across a photo that really shocked me. It was a photograph of an Iraqi man who had been shot in the head by a U.S. army sniper. His head was basically gone, his face was flattened out and floppy like an empty rubber mask. There was blood everywhere, trailing away from his head via a small foamy river. He had no head any more, but he did have blue pants and clean tennis shoes. It's hard to believe that someone’s life can end so quickly, and with so much violence.
This morning I woke up with a huge knot in my stomach. I'm sure it was that awful photograph and for most of the morning I kept wishing I hadn't ever seen it. Then I started wondering to myself, "How many Iraqi people have died during this war?" I went online and found a website called iraqbodycount.org. The current estimate is somewhere around 30,000 civilians killed by military intervention in Iraq. This is a number that exceeds my comprehension.
There's been a lot of argument here in the U.S. about whether it's right or wrong to show photos of dead people, be they U.S. soldiers or Iraqi civilians, in our newspapers or on the evening news. But if my not-very-close encounter with just one dead Iraqi man left me so sad and angry, I can only imagine what would happen if people were confronted with many, many more images of this kind of violence and suffering. I don't want to see photos of mutilated children, but I'm sure there are thousands. They must exist - but where are they? I still don't understand why all the news reports of bombings, kidnappings, executions, errant missles and whatnot don't seem to affect me on the same visceral level that that one photo did. Maybe if you want to stop war, you have to show pictures.