Thursday, July 29, 2010

Allison Kilkenney: TIME magazine uses exploitive photo to pimp nation-building

TIME magazine uses exploitive photo to pimp nation-building
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by Allison Kilkenney

This morning, TIME Managing Editor Richard Stengel was one of the guests on Morning Joe because he drops by every week to unveil the new cover of TIME so my grandmother will know what it looks like when she decides not to buy it at the drugstore.

This latest edition’s cover is of a young Afghan woman who has had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban. Stengel used the terribly sad image to argue that the US must stay in Afghanistan forever because, if we leave, women will become the victims of retribution.

Stengel also took issue with Biden’s assertion that we are not in the business of nation-building. Actually, says the guy with zero nation-building experience (playing on the Princeton basketball team – Go Tigers! – doesn’t count,) we are in the business of nation-building, and if you take issue with that reality, look at this poor girl – LOOK AT HER.

To my great surprise, Mike Barnacle sprang to life long enough to ask Stengel if the U.S. should permanently occupy every country that possesses a suffering population. What about Cambodia and Vietnam? What about Africa? In Congo, around 5.4 million people died in a single decade. Don’t they deserve Stengel’s sympathy? Furthermore, what about China and Saudi Arabia – two countries famous for their worker exploitation and human rights violations? Stengel dismissed those concerns, making the argument that we’re in the Middle East right now, so we should stay forever until all suffering has been alleviated with the healing power of our guns and bombs.

What is particularly aggravating about this latest TIME cover is that this is one of the only times a mainstream media outlet has lifted its self-inflicted censorship to show a victim of Afghan violence in a prominent way. Unfortunately, the editors at TIME didn’t show the world any of the horrific images of civilians who have become casualties of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of the region, or any photos capturing the tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children who have died during the Afghanistan occupation. Instead, Stengel and TIME decided to slap this poor girl on the cover as a way to pimp their nation-building bias, which by the way, nonpartisan Very Serious mainstream media publications aren’t supposed to have. Stengel was peddling an agenda like a lowly blogger.

Undoubtedly, there are those in the Taliban who seek to abuse and hurt women. That behavior is evil and should be condemned. The U.S. should seek to provide amnesty to endangered women wherever they live. However, obliterating the woman’s village in the spirit of “helping” to “liberate” her doesn’t make much sense. This latter scenario is what is happening far more often in Afghanistan.

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