unit 3 assignment 3 by phillip hazel

Gourevitch’s book describes the Rwandan genocide as a situation where a bewildering storm of media and politics obscured the most urgent aspect of the event: that human beings were suffering extremely and unfairly. Sontag’s “Regarding the Pain of Others” is an attempt to make sense of the nuances of the portrayal of human suffering in general; how it can be over complicated and used for personal and political gain. Chapter 11 of Gourevitch’s book speaks particularly about how the inaccurate and (perhaps) overly sensitive portrayal of the genocide (by both media and governments) enabled the genocide to rage on for much longer than it may have otherwise. Chapter 4 of Sontag’s book talks about how exactly this portrayal occurs. Sontag can tell us so much about the general hazards of portraying human suffering accurately. We are reading these books together because this information from Sontag, although powerful on its own, is strengthened by Gourevitch’s accounts of Rwanda; it shows what is at stake if the portrayal of human suffering is done haphazardly.

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