April 07, 2005

Pulitzer Judge (update: NOT) Embedded With North Vietnamese

Think this photo is bad?

baughman.jpg

I got my ass fact checked!!!

It turns out the photos in question were not taken by Baughman, instead, this is from a book reviewed by Baughman. So, where was the confusion? Google. I did a Google image search and the bulk of photos that came back for 'J. Ross Baughman' were these.

My apologies. One of the advantages this site has that we can try to repair the damage, right here, in the text of the original post. As opposed to, say, footnote on page A2.

But from that review we learn of Baughman's 'nuanced' vision of war and the media's role in it:

It is these pictures of Jane Fonda or Fidel Castro squired around by smiling NVA, or else the captured, wounded and dead ARVN or U.S. troops that will boil the blood of many American viewers. For them, it will still be too soon to see such pictures.

"The trick here is see beyond the propaganda of the pictures into a different culture," writes Pulitzer-Prize-winning photo critic Henry Allen in the foreword.

Right, let's look beyond acts of treason which demoralized our troops.
Given enough time and distance, old warriors can't help but want to know their enemies better. The anger and fear of battle mature into a clear-eyed, grudging respect, no matter which side happened to win that day long ago.
See how nuance works? You mature to respect your enemy.

What Baughman dismisses in this article is the role of media images in demoralizing troops and support for those troops back home.

He suggests, in his review, that the reason the Vietnamese won that war was that they were simply more prepared to persevere.

Indeed.

But why were Americans not willing to persevere? Why were Americans not willing to commit to total war against North Vietnam, as they had in WWII? Why were we not willing to fight the war to win?

Certainly, the images brought to the American public by the media played some part. In WWII the media played the role of cheerleader. Helping to keep morale up both at home and with the troops. From the time of Vietnam forward, however, the media played no such role.

The next time we go to war the American public must realize this simple fact: the American media does not really care if our side wins.

They do not necessarily wish us to lose, they do not necessarily want our soldiers to die, but they also could care less if we win. It seems to me that the greatest sacrifice one can ask of a fellow citizen is to die in war. If the state can legitimately ask a fellow citizen to do this, then certainly it can ask the media to refrain from publishing photos which might demoralize our troops.

Oh, it gets worse. Much worse. It turns out J. Ross Baughman, one of the judges of the Pulitzer also was embedded with the North Vietnamese. He wanted to show, you know, the 'other side of the war'. You know, the side that was busy killing Baughman's friends from back home.

baughman_vetnam.jpg
Photo above takes you to a few more images of the Vietnam war as seen through the eyes of an American working with the North Vietnamese in order to humanize their efforts of killing Americans toward their final goal of communist oppression.

On a related note, did you know that as a boy Ho Chi Minh is reported to have a pet dog and was a keen outdoorsman?

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:53 PM | Comments |