The War Photo No one Would Publish

In “The War Photo No One Would Publish,” Torie Rose Deghett addresses the challenges of wartime photography during the Gulf War. Her argument was that more Americans would empathize with the Iraqi people if the photo taken by Kenneth Jarecke of an “incinerated” soldier was published. The photo continued to go unpublished in the United States; preventing Americans from seeing the picture and feeling empathy towards the soldier. Not seeing this photo did not grant the American people to see the side of the war that was matter-of-fact instead of sterilized.

Deghett believes that we all can put aside our core values and empathize with or tolerate another person. In “The Primacy of Practice,” the philosopher, Kwame Anthony Appiah, contemplates the ability to be tolerant of others. He believes that everyone should try to become more involved in other cultures and learn to understand them more and get used to it. He encourages people to learn about others so everyone can live in harmony; many do not need to agree on values, just agree to disagree.

However, Deghett;s feelings of empathy and Appiah’s of tolerance will not be felt in every circumstance. The amount of tolerance and empathy people can feel is to a certain extent, as everyone will not support all the beliefs of other people due a difference in core values. Deghett is uneasy about the media not publishing the photo of the Iraqi soldier. The photo was taken by a war photographer named Kenneth Jarecke. Deghett talks about censorship within the media and how it affected the responsiveness of the American people to the war.

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This makes her angry because she believes that the censorship of the photograph prohibits the people from empathizing and changing the outcome of the war. She believes that everyone would have felt empathy towards the Iraqi solider if given the opportunity. The capturing of this photo took place during the Gulf War; the media in the United States refused to publish the photograph taken of the Iraqi soldier and instead published “hardware-focussed coverage” and they “removed empathy” (78).

These images had not been published to “ … preserve the dominant narrative of the good…” it kept the persona that the war was “clean” and “decontaminated” (81). The way that the media will not portray the photo shows the censorship sustained within the Gulf War. In reality, it prohibited people from empathizing with the Iraqi soldier. Without this connection to the Iraqi people, it prevented the war from being reported as truthful. Deghett believes that should the public view the photo, they would most likely create an opportunity to reform perspectives on the war.

Deghett shows resentment towards the media when she conveys, “[t]he Vietnam War in contrast to was notable for its catalog of chilling and iconic war photography and… had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the war,” attributing the publishing of pictures during the Vietnam War (75). Using this example, she validates how much of an impact photographic proof can have on not only the public’s opinion of war but also, when done correctly, how it can affect the outcome of everyday life and what we empathize with.

Each day, people find themselves reacting to different situations in different ways. The ability to tolerate these situations permits people to get tolerate the way others act. Appiah addresses his argument that no matter our personal beliefs, everyone can get used to one another. He states, “I am urging that we should learn about people in other places, take an interest in their civilizations, their arguments, their errors, their achievements, not because that will bring us to agreement, but because it will help us get used to one another” (55).

Tolerance is just determined in a matter of seconds as, “… we offer judgements, after all, it’s rarely because we have applied well-thought-out principles, to a set of facts and deducted an answer,” meaning we judge something before we can fully tolerate it, (52). Appiah looks at several distinctive disputive topics as well as homosexuality, religion, abortion, gay marriage, and women’s rights. Appiah claims, “… we can live in harmony without agreeing on underlying values,” meaning that everyone has to be tolerant of one another to have a coexisting environment.

Tolerance is felt on different levels because of the core values of others. Even if we do agree, we find a reason to disagree on it because, “they have clashing conceptions of ‘the good’… conflict often arises when two peoples have identified the same thing as good,” (55). A person’s culture defines who they are, and there are some people who really enjoy most of it, but it can possibly turn people away when it starts to get into more personal topics. An example Appiah uses is Pro-life or Pro-choice, “Both sides respect something like the sanctity of human life,” (56) showing that some can find a common piece in an uncommon view.

Kwame Anthony Appiah presumes that, “… the recent history of America does show that a society can radically change its attitudes – and more importantly, perhaps, its habits – about these issues over a single generation,” showing that people can become more tolerant because others do not have to like each other; just be able to stand each other, (58). Appiah believes that being able to accept opinions that differ from your own and behaviors that make you uncomfortable allow this society to fully function as a whole.

Deghett and Appiah both assume one thing: that certain feelings, (in this case, empathy and tolerance), toward specific situations are universal. With Deghett, it is the photo of the Iraqi solider and how if the photo was published everyone would empathize with it. She believed that if everyone related to this photo, it would have tremendously impacted the war. Deghett felt that people’s empathy would have impelled them to try and bring the war to a standstill. Likewise, Appiah believes that we all have certain morals but we are not able to feel a specific way about everything.

He also feels that we can not feel tolerant towards everything we experience or hear, but we can try to be accepting of one another and become used to the things that we all do. Each author believes that we all can put aside our core values and empathize with or tolerate another person. Deghetts argument is problematic because it is not possible for everyone to empathize with the Iraqi soldier if the picture had been published. Everyone can not empathize with the photo due to their own core values; but there is a great chance that lots of people would empathize with the photo and intervene.

Some people might have empathized with the photo of the Iraqi soldier, like anti-war groups and others who had lost someone not long ago. Someone who lost a loved one because of an Iraqi soldier, people who have friends and family in the war and pro-war groups would not have empathized with the photo. By stating this, I believe that empathy is not universal towards any point of view and the photo of the Iraqi soldier would not have had enough force to change the conclusion of the war. Almost everyone has something that they care very much about.

Lots of people stand up to shelter something that is close to them or protest something they believe needs to be alternated. When something like this occurs, there are some who stay by them and take part in the empathy toward these actions. There is also the possibility of people being unempathetic. In a recent article published in the New York Times, a football player by the name of Colin Kaepernick is expressing his feelings in a different way. Billy Witz reports that Kaepernick did not stand for the National Anthem and took a knee instead.

Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, heard the sound of the National Anthem did the opposite of what you should do: kneel. The article by Billy Witz titled, “This Time, Colin Kaepernick Takes a Stand by Kneeling,” shows Kaepernick doing just this. During a preseason game whenever Kaepernick, “entered the field… took a knee, and virtually every time the 49ers offense broke its huttle” he was booed at (3). This challenges Deghett’s argument by expressing the alternate views that United States citizens would have on the photo of the Iraqi soldier if it had been published.

Deghett does not include this in her argument. Witz wrote, “What began as a gesture to protest police brutality and social injustice had careened into a national debate…” (2). People started to have feelings of empathy towards Colin Kaepernick. His fans wanted to buy his shirts and get his autograph, more so now because of what he has done. This is how some would feel towards the picture of the Iraqi soldier. There might be people who would advocate for the image and want more people to understand and empathize with it.

Staff Sgt Jonathan Felix was interviewed by Witz and quoted in this article; Felix had been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, “‘I understand his message… There is a lot of oppression in the world and he’s fighting for people just the way I have been. It’s mind-boggling that so many people are against him when he’s fighting to take a stand,’” (4). Another example of how the photo would be treated is exactly this; Deghett is fighting to take a stand with the Iraqi soldier so people with empathize and create an impact on how others view Iraqi people.

A large group of his fans supported him, “They were mostly Latino, Asian and black” (1), this conveys what group he was connecting with most. These people were showing him support, they experienced empathy because they feel that people of their skin color are being treated unfairly. Just as Deghett feels that the photo of the Iraqi soldier is being treated unfairly by not having the opportunity to be published. This is the one side that Deghett feels that the American people would have towards the soldier.

Empathy and tolerance are extremely similar in the aspect that not everyone feels it to the same level. This creates parts of Appiah’s argument that are not as well thought out as they could be. Appiah believes that if everyone can learn to tolerate others, they can get used to one another. There will always be people that do not agree on certain cultures, traditions and actions which makes his argument problematic. Not everyone can be tolerant of the same things; they can be understanding and try to be accepting but that will not go on forever. People’s core values affect how they perceive things each day.

Appiah argues that, “… the various communities did not have to agree on a set of universal values,” but people can be tolerant and get used to certain ideas, (50-51). However, this argument is complicated by a published article in The Atlantic, “Female Circumcision Comes to America,” by Linda Burstyn, expresses the values of families from countries around the globe. Female circumcision (also known as female genital mutilation or FGM), is the removal of the female genitals. When immigrants come to America, they bring this tradition with them and not many Americans are too keen on the idea.

‘We don’t warn [immigrant] families that we consider this child abuse,’ says Catherine Hogan, the founder of the Washington Metropolitan Alliance Against Ritualistic FGM… ‘this is a clear case of child abuse… protect these girls from barbarous practices that rob them for a lifetime,’” (3). This shows the relation to Appiah’s argument because Hogan shows her core values by being intolerant. She may disagree with this part of the culture but not all parts of it, meaning that some aspects of the culture are believed by Hogan to be good.

As stated before, Appiah clearly overlooks that people can be intolerant to certain aspects of cultures. As the article demonstrates, there are bountiful African Americans and Americans at this day in age who are intolerant and do not believe in this. Many women will not want this done to anyone again because of the pain that they experienced, “‘I was angry and still am,’” stated Mimi Ramsey, an already circumcised woman, and also an activist against FGM, (6). Although, many Africans still stand by this part of their culture in the United States.

As Appiah believes that people can become tolerant, some are tolerant of this, as it has a positive impact on their lives. (3). A taxi driver in Washington D. C. defends the practice. He had his daughters circumcised and said, “I stood over her to make sure she cut enough” and “I wasn’t going to let my daughters have those things! ” (4). This side of the story supports Appiah’s argument. This shows that the practice of the female circumcision is strictly on tolerance within what you believe, and this culture has certain core ethics and that is tolerated through practicing specific values.

The idea that Appiah makes about becoming tolerant of another culture and its traditions is shown through an article by Stanley Fish, published by The University of Chicago Press, “Boutique Multiculturalism, or Why Liberals Are Incapable of Thinking about Hate Speech. ” This article is about the true meaning of being introduced in a culture and how it affects the way you tolerate it. It addresses being influenced by other cultures and an American’s idea of what multiculturalism really is.

Fish claims, “…but boutique multiculturalists will always stop short at approving other cultures at a point where some value at their center generates an act that offends against the canons of civilized decency as they have been declared or assumed,” meaning that people seem to not agree with other cultures once it gets to the core values or the important and pure parts of the culture, (378). Boutique multiculturalists are known for resisting culture once it starts to get to the very important traditions and values.

These people only participate in the things that they believe are good, “A boutique multiculturalist may find something of value in rap music and patronize (pun intended) with soul-food restaurants …” (only being involved in the good), and “… but he will be uneasy about affirmative action and downright hostile to an afrocentrist curriculum,” meaning that the boutique multiculturalist will no longer want to participate in the culture knowing that things they disagree with are involved, (378).

Appiah states, “Understanding one another may be hard; it can certainly be interesting. But it doesn’t require that we come to agreement,” he believes that people do not need to be a part of the culture or like everything that it is, but people need to come to agreement and just tolerate each other, (55). If others do this, then they can live in society and be used to one another. This complicates Appiah’s argument because the ability to tolerate someone else only goes so far before people begin to disagree with others values.

With the earlier evidence from Deghett’s argument, it is confirmation to conclude that some people would not empathize with the photo such as war supporters due to their unempathetic feelings. There is a possibility that some may support the cause and result of the photograph. However, there are others who will empathize with the photo such as anti-war groups, whom would have an opposing reaction and immediately empathize. With this, the same can be said about Appiah and tolerance. Not everyone will be able to get used to the ideas and actions of others.

But, there are some who will tolerate the actions and will get used to the opposite views. This is something that happens each day: people disagree with one another. It is hard to understand everyone’s feelings and ideas but it is important to be considerate even if you do not feel the same way. Something that is very important is understanding that each person does not have the same feelings that apply to you. The fundamental concepts of empathy and tolerance contributes to the functionality of the world in all aspects and are necessary in order to improve relationships.

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The War Photo No one Would Publish. (2017, Jun 19). Retrieved from

The War Photo No one Would Publish
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