Thursday, 3 September 2015

The images that shame our civilisation

My recent posts about death on the front pages take a harrowing twist on today's newspapers. Editors may have been divided over the rights and wrongs of putting the shooting of journalist Alison Parker on the front page, but they were just about united in their use of the photograph of a small boy's body washed up on the beach in Turkey. Many people will of course find it harrowing - particularly the photo used by The Independent and The National. One of my friends, a young father, was understandably upset. 'I just don't really agree with using this image to sell papers,'he said last night. It isn't there to sell papers though. Why would anyone buy a paper because of it?


It is there to bring home the stark reality of what is happening in the Mediterranean - and the equally stark reality that Europe is turning a blind eye. There have been column inches about 'migrants', shadowy figures hiding in lorries and walking through the Chunnel in the dead of night. David Cameron referred to them as swarms, likening them to insects. But these pictures tell a different story. One of a real humanitarian crisis. Perhaps they will bring about a change in attitude, galvanise Europe out of its frightened complacency. If they do, this death on the front page, however shocking, is justified. 

The German newspaper Bild, using the image on its back page, explains why the pictures had to be used. This is a translation of what it said:

A Syrian child lying dead on the beach in Bodrum (Turkey), drowned trying to escape the war in his native country, died on the way to Europe. 
Images like this have become shamefully commonplace.
We cannot bear them any more but we want, we must, show them because they document the historic failure of our civilisation in this fugitive crisis. 
Europe, this immensely rich continent, will be guilty if we continue to allow children to drown on our coasts. 
We have too many ships, too many helicopters, too many reconnaissance planes    to continue watching this disaster. This photo is a message to the whole world, to finally unite and ensure not a single child dies again on the run. After all, who are we, what are our values really worth, if we continue to allow this to happen?  

Thanks as always to  and @suttonnick. Thanks to also to @tanit

No comments:

Post a Comment