The barbarity of war is one thing, a less obvious barbarity comes next. I find it difficult to decide how I feel about media reportage of human tragedies, but I follow it, sometimes avidly. Somewhere in that morass there is a level at which I am sharing in the inhumanity.
“At half six I turn on the television to see how the war’s coming on.
Tracers are arcing down on Baghdad;
the reporter keeps looking over his shoulder.
Shoes off, I stretch out,
rest my feet on the coffee table.”
And somewhere out there, the headlong mania of reporters and photographers looking for the money-shot.
Ed Behr recounting a scene among Belgian civilian refugees in Congo, 1960, “Into the middle of this crowd strode an unmistakably British TV reporter, leading his cameraman and sundry technicians like a platoon commander through hostile territory. At interval he paused and shouted, in a stentorian but genteel BBC voice, “Anyone here been raped and speaks English?” Ed Behr, Anyone here been raped and speaks English? 1981
A Brief Note on an Imminent Famine.
Everyone here will starve:
each bone will be a stripe,
each hand a bowl,
each leg a stick.
Then there'll be the gluttony
our threadbare skin
will be devoured,
our eyes exported
shining like pickles.