Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Big Picture

Leonard Peikoff gave a speech called “A Picture Is Not An Argument.” It was aimed primarily at anti-abortionists, who use pictures of fetuses instead of logical arguments. His point also applies to this famous picture from Vietnam:

The girl in the picture, who was burned in a napalm attack (by the South Vietnamese, not American forces) is Kim Phuc. This picture became a famous symbol for the antiwar faction during the Vietnam Conflict. People looked at the picture and wondered, “Why are we napalming little girls in Vietnam?” The picture was used as evidence that the American cause was immoral.

In order to keep the picture in context, which many to this day are unable to do, one would have to remember that we were in Vietnam to stop the country from being conquered by the worst form of tyranny in history, communism. One would have to understand the value of liberty. One would have to understand that communism is the complete, systematic opposite of freedom: it is state control of every aspect of the individual’s life, or totalitarianism. These distinctions are beyond the understanding of the left, which seeks to destroy freedom and capitalism and erect state control of the individual in the west.

Further, one would have to understand that in a war between a free country and a dictatorship, the free country has the moral right to use whatever means it deems necessary to win. If victory necessitates bombing civilians, as it did in Japan and Germany in WWII, then bombing is moral. The aggressive dictatorship, which seeks to destroy the freedom of its enemies, bears the moral blame for the civilians who die in its war.

But Kim Phuc’s subsequent story gives us the big picture, and speaks more eloquently than any photograph.
As an adult, Phúc was removed from her university and used as an anti-war symbol by the Vietnamese government. In 1986, however, Phúc was granted permission by the government to continue her studies in Cuba….

After receiving permission, she then moved to Cuba, and met Bui Huy Tuan…. Kim Phuc and Bui Huy Tuan married and, in 1992, they went on a honeymoon. During an airplane refueling in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, they got off the plane and defected to Canada and asked for political asylum there. They now live in Ajax, Ontario and have two children.
Kim Phuc was used as a propaganda tool and enjoyed nomenklatura status in Vietnam -- but even so, she defected to the west! That should give anti-Americans pause, as they honestly reflect, if they are still capable of doing so, on how wretched life under communism must be that even its celebrities run away at first chance. Kim Phuc’s full life justifies our cause in fighting communism. We had every right to be in Vietnam (although we should not have been there as it was a purely altruistic, sacrificial venture from which America had nothing to gain).

As I watch America wage our current fight against militant Islam -- with our ridiculous rules of engagement, our lawyers on the battlefield approving who can be attacked, our dropping food on our enemies, our cowtowing to the UN -- I wonder how much our military is haunted and hobbled by this picture. How much have our present policies been twisted and shaped by the fear of another such photo showing up on CNN?

It is impossible to censor photographs. If we tried to keep all photographers out of war zones, we would end up failing in today’s world of digital cameras and the internet. What we need instead of censorship is education. We need Americans to understand the morality of our cause and the morality of total war in defense of freedom. We also need people to understand that a picture is not an argument. Only then can they get the big picture.


Genghis13Khan said...

Some people don't seem to understand that "the free country has the moral right to use whatever means it deems necessary to win." I've been engaing in a debate with some liberals at over much the same point.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. Of course the leftists believe that some pictures are more equal than others. I don't expect to be seeing the drawings and pictures of the Al Qaeda torture house in Baghdad to be getting any coverage by the MSM, much less the wall-to-wall play of the Abu Ghraib circus. In the former case real torture doesn't further the MSM's surrender agenda.

You're absolutely right about the ROEs. If you haven't already done so read Ilario Pantano's book "Warlord" for evidence on just how insane the ROEs are.

Myrhaf said...

I don't think Washington, Lincoln, Wilson or Roosevelt would have put up with what the media do today in a time of war. I seriously think Washington would have hanged some of them for treason.

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