The Image and Terror

Did American citizens in the spring of 2004 notice the resemblance of Lynndie England leading an Iraqi on a leash to Tintoretto’s treatment of a similar moment in the Passion? Did they notice the uncanny coincidence in the release of Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ at the very time the Abu Ghraib images were made public in the spring of 2004? Did they notice the resemblance between Gibson’s portrayal of the pleasure and glee that the Roman soldiers take in torture and the grinning faces of American soldiers mocking their Iraqi victims? Did they ask themselves what has become of Christianity in a time when its major cinematic expression completely eliminates its positive message in favor of an obsessive concentration on the minute details of the tortured human body, from beatings, to a scourging that literally flays the flesh from the victim, to agonizingly slow death by that “stress position” known as crucifixion? Did they notice that Arabs and Muslims have now assumed the position of the sacrificial victims in a Christian crusade against evil?

Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to the Present by W. J. T. Mitchell

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Re-presenting Pakistan | Upcoming Talk

Re-presenting Pakistan: Journalism, Justice and the “War on Terror”

Pakistan has been called a failing state and the most dangerous country on earth. Yet, stories about the Pakistani victims of the “war on terror” remain scant even though thousands of Pakistanis have been bombed, disappeared, detained and displaced. This panel will examine the relationship between representation, media and war in the context of Pakistan. It will discuss alternative models to pursue and publish ethical journalism.

PLACE: Columbia University | Journalism School |  3rd Flr, Lecture Hall
TIME: 7pm – 8:30pm

MODERATED by: Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars and dean of Columbia Journalism School

Madiha Tahir is an independent journalist who recently produced a short documentary, Wounds of Waziristan, about survivors of drone attacks in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas. She is co-editor of a collection of essays, Dispatches from Pakistan and a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University.

Asim Rafiqui is a photojournalist who has been investigating human rights issues in Pakistan. His most recent project covers the lives and stories of Pakistani prisoners in the US prison at Bagram. Rafiqui is also a fellow at the Open Society Foundation

Sarah Belal is a prominent Pakistani human rights lawyer who has been working to get Bagram prisoners released. Her organization Justice Project Pakistan has been litigating on behalf of families of prisoners. Belal is also a fellow with the UK based human rights organization, Reprieve.

Saadia Toor is the author of State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan. She is an associate professor of sociology at CUNY and works on populist movements and feminism and religion, in Pakistan.

Presented by The Sevellon Brown Fund, Columbia Journalism School Photojournalism Dept., & Center for International History

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LATELINE | ABC AUSTRALIA

On Nov 08.2013, Steve Cannane interviewed me about Wounds of Waziristan on Australia’s national primetime show:

 

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The Takeaway | NPR

Nov 04.2013, an interview on The Takeaway on the significance of Hakimullah Mehsud’s death:

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What It’s Like to Live With Drones | Policy Mic

Full article HERE. Nov 01.2013:

These stories show immense human suffering that we, as Americans, need to acknowledge and be sensitive to if we hope to effectively combat terrorism. By ignoring the deaths of these civilians, we tacitly imply that their lives are worth nothing, that they are less human than American citizens.

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Life in the Dronescape | VICE Motherboard

Full interview HERE. Oct 29.2013:

Your film begins with President Obama’s description—that he’s “haunted” by the loss of civilian lives. What moved you to make that that description a guiding motif in the film?

A couple of things. I’ve been trying to think about the ways we can talk about drones beyond the legal reports. So what are the ways that we can think about what it means to experience life under drones. Another aspect is that yes, Obama said he is haunted by loss of civilian life, but that nevertheless we need to continue with our war. I thought that was interesting because there’s a whole literature within academia and in fiction about ghosts and haunting and what that means. If you think about Toni Morrison’s Beloved. The sociologist Avery Gordon has an excellent book on this called Ghostly Matters. Being haunted is about not being able to go on as if you were not being haunted. Even horror films are about this.

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NOS Op 3 | Netherlands

Interview on Oct 29.2013. Starts at 6:19: Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 7.30.02 PM

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Tell Me More | NPR

Oct 25.2013, a discussion with Michel Martin: Do Pakistanis Support Drone Attacks?

 

TAHIR: I think the people that are actually under attack are not the people in Islamabad and are not the liberal class. The first line of people that are actually under attack are the people in the tribal areas. And there the issue again gets very, very complicated and I think it’s – it’s not critical thinking to think that because political parties are using this issue that it is therefore a sham issue. I mean, it’s true, various political parties have used this issue for their own political ends, but that doesn’t negate the fact that actually people are being killed.

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America Tonight | Al Jazeera

On Oct 22.2013, I had the pleasure of briefly discussing the situation in Waziristan as well as the documentary:

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