16 November 2010

War Journalism: A Question of Ethics

An image at the War Remnants Museum has got me thinking about ethical journalism. It was a photo of a terrified family holding on to one another; the caption read that the photographer asked a firing squad standing out of the photo’s frame to hold fire so that he could take his shot first.

I think he exploited the family in their time of ultimate fear and confusion –at what point does documentation become dehumanization?

I went on to irrationally slander war journalists for passively witnessing cruelty for their work. I called them cowards. The writing, which I’ll respectfully exclude from Global Osmosis, reflects the frustration and sadness that I felt as I examined the gruesome, chaotic, devastating photos at the War Remnants exhibit. Ignorant to the extent of the war before visiting Vietnam, I was overwhelmed by its chronic impact.

I am a visual learner. It wasn’t until I could see the conflict (euphemism for carnage) between America and Vietnam, in the museum photos that I could even begin to comprehend it.

War photographers, as a whole, are far from cowardly. It would be hypocritical to nark on these journalists who have heightened my understanding of what exactly a war is. And in the same breath I still question where you draw the line and put down the damn camera.

01 November 2010

War Tour

While I'm not typically an advocate of guided tours while traveling, I can honestly say that I got more out of these few hours in Vietnam than I've gotten out of days, even weeks, in other places. The war became tangible for me on a tour of the Củ Chi Tunnels.

Here's a photo tour; I hope you approach it with skepticism. 

A series of underground tunnels underlies Ho Chi Minh City. This network called the Củ Chi Tunnels is deeply rooted in Vietnamese soil and history. During the war, the tunnels hosted a whole range of activities- from hiding to combat, from transportation of supplies to access to medicine. 


The tunnels have since been expanded to accommodate large groups of tourists, and large tourists. 

Here's my foot next to the entrance. Hard to believe it used to be smaller, let alone the fact that people lived down there.

Paintings on the walls at the Cu Chi Tunnels exhibit.

The military cemetery for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army.


The final stop in the tour was a shooting range. Yes, a shooting range. It cost extra, and it was a spectacle, to say the least. I couldn't shoot a gun on these grounds. Couldn't even consider it.