Friday, May 15, 2009

Now I'm going to criticize Glenn Greenwald

Arguing against Obama's decision to refuse to release photographs of torture Greenwald makes a claim based on the assumption that sentiment is scientific

(6) If these photographs don't shed any new light on what our Government did -- if all they do is replicate what we already know from the Abu Ghraib photographs -- then how can it possibly be the case that they will do any damage? To argue that they will harm how we are perceived is, necessarily, to acknowledge that they reveal new information that is not already widely known.


So only information affects perceptions.

I agree with Greenwald that the photographs should be published, but I am shocked by his psychology denying assertion about human perceptions. I was trying to formulate my objection to his argument as I read the rest of his post, but, of course, he refuted himself much more eloquently and convincingly than I possibly could.

Indeed, it's pretty hard to believe that the people who are arguing that "no good will come" from release of these photos either (a) lived through the impact of the Abu Ghraib photos and/or (b) are living through the "torture debate" we are now having.

Photographs convey the reality of things in a way that mere words cannot. They prevent people who want to deny what was done the ability to do so. They force citizens to face what their country did and what they are now justifying and advocating. They impede the ability of political leaders to use euphemisms to obscure the truth. They show in graphic detail what the effects are of sanctioning torture policies.


Exactly. And it is identically hard to believe that Glenn Greenwald who wrote the first quote lived through the impact of the Abu Ghraib photos or has even a passing acquantance with the Glenn Greenwald who wrote the second quote.

1 comment:

Michael Drake said...

Good catch. Even stranger, Greenwald is a lawyer, so he knows very well that courts routinely exclude photographic materials that might have probative value precisely because they convey the reality of things in a way that mere words cannot. (I also agree that the photos should be published.)