Basil Wiering Unit 3 Assignment 3

There are a lot of connections between the texts, but the most poignant in the selected sections is the analysis (Sontag) and illustration (Gourevitch) of the irreconcilable rift between the acknowledgment of suffering and the fight against it. Sontag muses, what is the power of protest? Most depictions of war, as she notes, do not even commonly elicit such a response. More likely, they prompt the consumer to consider the horrors of war, but only as something distantly removed from their own lives. To those affected, however, no such privilege exists. Images of their fallen families are a reality, and graphic representation allows them no refuge from that reality. Gourevitch explores this all through his understanding of the Rwandan genocide. Acknowledgment of the fact that it was a genocide was widely avoided for the majority of the events, because it was assumed that to acknowledge it was to harbor a responsibility to take action. After all, this was specifically outlined in the Genocide Convention of 1948. On the heels of the Nazi regime, we wanted to ensure that no atrocities of the same nature and scale could ever be perpetuated again. Finally, when the international community was finally ready to call it for what it was, a reinterpretation of the Convention was allowed: that qualifying it as a genocide simply allowed preventative action, rather than requiring it. As Gourevitch writes to conclude the chapter, “denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good.” Perhaps they are not always so alien, but if they are not, it is not an inherent connection. The weight lies on the witness to bring acknowledgment into actuality, into concrete and decisive action. And more often than not, the witness chooses first to consume, then to look the other way.

Leave a Reply