Unit 3 Assignment 3 Cathy Diop

The two readings for this post both deal with responsibility and the ability of individuals and entire nations to view an event, like the Rwanda Genocide, as not important enough to actually do something. Gourevitch really focused on how so many decided not to actually make space for the living in Rwanda, for the people who were being slaughtered and needed help, but instead made spaces for them as dead people. The U.S. had created a space for victims of genocide through the Holocaust museum but didn’t actually do anything beneficial to stop the next genocide from happening. I feel that Sontag might say this has to do with how people looking at war through photos or the news “can’t understand, can’t imagine” what it truly means to be there and the liveliness and speed in the war and the death happening behind the still silent image they see. Furthermore, Sontag discussed censorship and the limiting of what we can see from different countries has led to an incorrect belief being spread about Africa and Asia. The fact that the most gruesome images we see come out of Africa leds people to think that those gruesome images don’t exist elsewhere when the reality is that they exist everywhere and are just being hidden/censored. This belief of Africa is the only place, where nasty things like this happen, was also highlighted by Gourevitch when he talked about how the French, the U.S., and the UN all played off what was happening in Rwanda as savages doing what they do best naturally: fighting each other. Many countries have nasty wars but will save face through censorship just like how the French tried to save face through their Operation Turquoise. The 2 authors also come together on the topic of how people don’t care about things that don’t personally affect them, this is way photos can be both powerful and powerless; the UN made the genocide convention out of their self – interest not out of hope for the greater good.

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