John Berger, the artist & social critic, has written several books & essays “about seeing,” about how we view art & how that is affected by political ideology. Nothing could demonstrate his insights better than the array of political reactions to the photo of 3-year-old Omran Daqneesh.
It isn’t coincidental that Assad supporters are enflamed by the photo & see it as war propaganda, as a manipulation by the US Pentagon to justify a regime-change intervention into Syria. As if the US isn’t already there up to their eyeballs. Some of their explanations are simply beyond the pale of human decency: he only had a “minor scalp injury” so what’s the big deal?
Of course what Assadists don’t want addressed is why Syrian or Russian warplanes are bombing civilians because their phony-assed narrative denies they are even doing so. Their contorted, sickening rationalizations include blaming the Daqneesh family for being in a war zone or claiming Assad & Putin created a bomb-free alley for civilians to exit before they bombed the place to smithereens. How did political analysis get to the level of dreck?
Anti-Assadists saw the photos with quite a different eye. It’s beyond dispute that those who want US intervention recognized its war-mongering potential. But those who oppose all military intervention into Syria, including at its current barbaric levels, see little Omran as an antiwar icon, as a way to visually drive home to others what war & militarism is doing in so many countries around the world. Just like the image from the Vietnam War of the little girl doused in napalm running down the road.
The image of the little girl from Vietnam had a powerful affect on viewers by showing the horror & barbaric nature of the Vietnam War. Should media not have published it?
Why would anyone protest the photo of a child victim of war? Why would they not want that to be front-page news all over the world? What the hell are they trying to hide?