JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 279
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Nancy K. Miller
adjacent column where the journalist argues against the U.S. bombing of
Afghanistan, citing the failure of similar tactics in Vietnam.32 In another
headline story, the analogy is literally writ large: "This was not Pearl
Harbor. ... It was the entire tragedy of Vietnam crammed into a few
hours." The analogy is fleshed out in the text, though I find the logic
mystifying, unless you eliminate all distinctions between perpetrators
and victims: "If you want a true analogy," the reporter Tony Parsons
argues, "then black Tuesday was like the entire trauma and tragedy of the
Vietnam War crammed into a few horrific hours. That's no exaggeration"
(16). No? Parsons does it by the numbers-how many died in a few hours
scaled to the losses of the war over many years. While I can't agree with
this reasoning, I do read this visual reminder as an implicit renationalizing,
and rehistoricizing of the image, underscoring, as the Guardian reporter,
Mark Lawson, points out simply, the importance of history and hence
captions as reminders to viewers of how and why things happen: "The
picture of the girl dashing screaming from the napalm has most power if
you know what war it's from" (10). The Guardian's article-"The Power
of a Picture"-showed several images of the devastation (including one
of a man jumping, flying,almost like the image featured in the story of the
plane heading for the towers), but it does not reprint the famous picture,
assuming it exists in collective memory.33
The association between Kim Phuc and the injustice of war was also
made in England before September 11. The photograph of the girl was
reprinted in an article reporting on the plight of the "terrified Catholic
schoolgirls" in Belfast, connecting their picture with those ofKim and the
little boy from the Warsaw ghetto with his hands in the air; as well as the
baby being carried out of the Oklahoma bombing and the father trying to
protect his son during the Intifada.34 In this article, "the child in the
picture" becomes generic: "What the pictures we cannot forget do,"
journalist Christopher Hope argues, "is to expose the fact that hope has
been betrayed again and again. They make us remember how we would
have felt. After all, we were children once. They make us remember a time
when we expected better of people like us" (3). Again, the ugly facts of
political history get taken up into a universal psychotherapeutics in which
nostalgia replaces analysis.
Sometimes the image, caption, and deployment of the image seem to
belong to conflicting universes. Not long after Sept. 11, the stylized
outline of Kim running from the napalm against the background of an
American flag appeared on a sticker with the caption: "Not In My Name."
The text reads: "If I could talk face to face with the pilot who dropped the
Here’s what’s next.
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/25/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .