Unit 3: Assignment 3 by Gwenyth Van Doren

As I read Gourevitch and Sontag together, I could only think about the useless in saying how evil a war or an action is if you do nothing about it. Sontag highlights how war photography can dehumanize its subjects just as much the war has, yet we continue to justify these images by saying “we” need to see them in order to understand the true atrocities. However, Sontag also brought up a valid point on page 71 of how “the ubiquity of those photographs, and those horrors, cannot help but nourish belief in the inevitability of tragedy in the benighted or backward – that is, poor – parts of the world.” This made me think of Washington’s reluctant use of the word “genocide” to describe what was happening in Rwanda in Gourevitch. Both these texts made me think about how our empathy for those suffering sometimes extends to those who look like us and it is harder for the “we” to care when “we” have categorized those who are suffering as an other. I think we are reading these together to try to understand the purpose, if any, in categorizing evil because why is there a need to define it if when evil is present there no action taken against it.

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