Go read Susan Sontag’s essay in the NY Times Magazine. Well worth the read, and points out things that I didn’t even realize about the Abu Ghraib photos. For example, the photos we saw in the papers were significantly cropped. Sontag also makes explicit the connection between pornography and these photos, which is something I had been mulling over for a while. The real kicker is her comparison to other visual recordings of torture. These photos are not like those of the Nazis, who did not place themselves in their photographs of atrocities. They bear a much closer resemblance to photographs of lynchings, “which show Americans grinning beneath the naked mutilated body of a black man or woman hanging behind them from a tree. The lynching photographs were souvenirs of a collective action whose participants felt perfectly justified in what they had done. So are the pictures from Abu Ghraib.” Indeed, as Sontag says, those soldiers are us.
To quote the Shins, “we are a brutal kind.”