Sadie Blackshear Unit 3 Assignment 3

The excerpt about dogs eating the massacred Tutsis, on page 148 of Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, neatly ties into Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others. After asking about the curious lack of dogs in Rwanda, he receives the general consensus of what happened to the population. One person tells Gourevitch that the dogs were preserved on film, and he morbidly describes the many videos he subjected himself to. He describes horribly explicit videos, and it makes me think of what Sontag had to say about press coverage and censorship for images of a country’s citizens versus images of “exotic” postcolonial locations (pg 71). She notes that though in America, for example, oftentimes in mainstream media photos of Americans in war have shrouded or hidden faces, “this is a dignity not thought necessary to accord to others.” The media is much more likely to willingly expose in plain sight the identities of individuals who are seemingly locked into a life that is “inevitable” for their “benighted or backward” (code words for impoverished) country. People see images such as those of dogs savagely feasting on rotting corpses and think, “How terrible that that is happening,” and they may even feel sympathy, but there is no action taken from these feelings that show proper empathy as Sontag sees it. The UN peacekeepers in Rwanda at the time had not intervened in any of the killing of Tutsis and Hutus by the Hutu Power party, and yet they found it a “health problem” to allow the dogs to live and eat the dead bodies that remained. This reaction is twisted at best, because rather than saving the dying or clearing the bodies, they eliminated the animals that were following their instincts to survive. This brings a question to my mind: during other genocides, were bodies left were they fell as they were in Rwanda? Did peacekeepers find it necessary to exterminate an entire animal population from countries in which genocides occurred in order to avoid the “health problem” of human flesh being consumed?

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