Unit 3, Post 3 by Kennedy M. Petties

Sontag and Gourevitch’s writings connect across several different themes and concepts. Sontag heavily discusses the appropriate ways to process, display, understand, and react to the pain of others. She speaks in a more theoretical way and cites different times throughout history to explain her points. Gourevitch is more focused on the specific instance of the Rwandan Genocide. Gourevitch recounts how instead of preventing it and honoring their commitment to prevent and punish genocides, the world didn’t react at all and/or enabled the suffering of others. This relates to Sontag’s point about how we can be unbelievably apathetic about what other people are going through. We see it as exotic and far away. We claim we are one large humanity but the pain people are going through has a diminished effect the further you are from it. Sontag also discusses how we don’t want to call pain and suffering by what it is a lot of the time because that makes it real and something we have to deal with. We would rather debate the semantics around the situation than the situation itself. Gourevitch brings up this same point in how the United States didn’t want to call the Rwandan Genocide exactly what it was – a genocide. That legally meant they had to act and respond to the horrors happening internationally. And then after finally labeling it as a genocide and using the appropriate terminology, they then chose to argue if it was ever really their place to get involved in international affairs in the first place. These two texts pair very well together. Sontag gives a more in-depth view of what is going on inside the minds of people who ignore atrocities and/or do absolutely nothing about them and Gourevitch gives you a model to examine.

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