Touré Condemns Censorship of War Photo . . . Then Censors It Himself!

September 15th, 2014 6:12 PM

Can Touré Neblett not see the incandescent irony of his statement?  His show-ending rant on The Cycle today condemned the censorship of the shocking images of war. Railed Touré: "we're blocked from seeing so much of the cost of war, of the evil of war as if we are too sensitive or squeamish or unable to handle the graphic truth."

Touré focused on one particular photo, taken by photojournalist Kenneth Jarecke during the first Gulf War, deploring the fact that AP refused to publish it. Incredibly, Touré  then proceeded to . . . censor the photo himself, declaring that  it's "so graphic I can't show it to you now."  Hello?

Seriously, is it possibly that Touré couldn't see the screaming inconsistency between his righteous rant and his own action?

TOURE NEBLETT: Another week, another video of a beheading by those media-savvy savages at ISIS. Another video the vast majority of us will never see. Our government and media shield us from being able to see anything more than a slide. Part of what's so shocking here is, we're not used to seeing horrific things happen to American bodies overseas. For the first several years of the Iraq war we weren't allowed to see flag-draped coffins, so it seemed like a war without American deaths. We're blocked from seeing too much of the cost of war, of the evil of war, as if we are too sensitive or too squeamish or just unable to handle the graphic truth. Part of what makes ISIS so barbaric is not simply the beheadings, but trying to force us to see them, forcing us to see how evil war can be, thus breaking the unstated modern contract that war should be conducted largely out of public view.

Our government seems to say let them see some of it but not the truly messy parts. We learned in Vietnam seeing too much erodes public support. So out of Iraq we get stories like that out of photo-journalist Kenneth Jarecke was in Iraq in 1991 during the first Gulf War who happened upon an Iraqi in a truck who had been burned beyond recognition, almost man frozen in the midst of dying. Ken said "if I don't make pictures like this, people like my mother will think what they see in war is what they see in movies." So he took a graphic photo, which he called Incinerated Iraqi.

You see a man almost frozen in the midst of dying, a man charred beyond belief. The AP did not transmit his photo, judging too much for even editors to see. The London Observer published it and later it ended up in a traveling museum exhibit of images from war. But it was one of many images that are kept from us. Incinerated Iraqi is so graphic I can't even show it to you now. . . 

What's the impact of being shielded from seeing how grotesque war really is? It's easier to galvanize support for war when the people don't know how bad it is. Government censorship of war images, their sanitization of modern war, their ban on letting us see certain things, that only perpetuates government's ability to rally support for war. We don't truly know what it is we are supporting. Ken Jarecke said "how can you decide to have war if you are not truly informed? If we're big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it."