Images are powerful, stronger than words. It was video of ISIS beheading two Americans that spurred President Obama to finally take action he was doing his best to avoid. Video of ISIS burning a Jordanian pilot alive last week got King Abdullah angry enough to quote Clint Eastwood in his promise to strike back. His actions since prove it wasn’t an idle threat.
ISIS was holding a woman named Kayla Mueller from Prescott, Arizona who was captured while doing charity work for “Doctors Without Borders.” It claimed last week she was killed when Jordanian planes struck an ISIS building housing weapons, and the family confirmed today she’s dead. What would happen if ISIS had burned her alive and filmed it? Reaction would have been fierce. Would it have been enough for Congress to declare war on ISIS? It seems that’s what it’s going to take because President Obama isn’t likely to do much more on his own initiative, even if though he’s asked for the authority.
Pictures of mistreated puppies move millions to enact strict animal cruelty laws that have imprisoned hundreds. Brian Williams claims to have once rescued a puppy from a burning building. If he had a picture of the puppy, he might still be anchoring the NBC Nightly News.
Pictures have enormous political power. One shot of a little girl running away after being burned by napalm in Vietnam turned countless Americans against the war. Another of a Viet Cong soldier being executed, and then a video of a Buddhist monk immolating himself had enormous effect on millions of Americans back home.
Teaching about the Holocaust, I used to hold up a grainy, black and white photo of an SS soldier shooting a Jewish mother and her baby in Poland. I’d ask, “Is this soldier evil?” Then I’d moderate a forty-minute discussion on whether he was or wasn’t. Students wanted to keep talking about it after the bell rang. I’d have to end the discussion and kick them out. Images of bodies in liberated Nazi death camps shocked the world in 1945. Nobody could deny the Holocaust after that and those pictures led to UN recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in 1948. Try as it might, Iran cannot negate the power of those images in its effort to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist in the world’s eyes by denying the Holocaust ever took place.
When al Qaeda posted video of American journalist Daniel Pearl’s beheading in 2002, I told students that I chose not to watch it and advised them not to either “unless you want the image to stay in your head.” Pictures of Iraqi POWs being humiliated at Abu Ghraib turned many Americans against the war and led to Barack Obama’s election in 2008. I won’t watch video of ISIS burning the Jordanian pilot for the same reason. I saw one still photo and that was enough.
|He was charged with eight, but his staff said he murdered hundreds|
Good liberals all, our liberal mainstream media wasn’t about to show any pictures of dead babies during the Kermit Gosnell murder trial in 2013. They refused to even cover it for three weeks. Then they gave weak excuses: “It’s a local story,” when they were finally smoked out and even then gave it scant mention. They certainly didn’t show any pictures — except of Gosnell’s building which he called the “Women’s Medical Society.” No dead babies. No emotional testimony by former employees who witnessed the slaughter either, though there was plenty of both. The old maxim “If it bleeds, it leads” doesn’t apply to abortion stories in the mainstream media.
Feminist Professor Lisa Wade at Occidental College commented on photographer Lennart Nilsson’s Life Magazine cover shot in 1965: “Nilsson’s images forever changed the way that people think about pregnancy, mothers, and fetuses. Before Nilsson, the visual of a fetus independent from a mother was not widespread. His pictures made it possible for people to visualize the contents of a woman’s womb independently of her body. Suddenly, the fetus came to life. It was no longer just something inside of a woman, no longer even in relationship to a woman; it was an individual with a face, a sex, a desire to suck its thumb.”
When my students debated abortion in the years before the internet, opposing sides would write away to organizations supporting the pro-life and pro-choice viewpoints. Pro-life students were appalled at images of aborted babies they received. When pro-choice students saw them, they were appalled too and said they could no longer defend the pro-choice side.
That’s why pro-choice feminists so vehemently oppose ultrasound images for pregnant women who might actually see what they’re choosing to destroy. Do they really support a woman’s right to choose? Only if they can keep her ignorant of what the choice actually involves — and especially what it looks like. Anyone making the pro-choice argument who hasn't gone to Google Images, typed in "aborted babies" and looked, should shut up. You don't know what you're talking about.