Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"Her story was how the Vietnamese got by day-by-day in the war, simply how they could stand it. So far in Iraq there has been no Gloria Emerson..."

Unnamed and Unnoticed: Iraqi Casualties

By Judith Coburn

Monday 18 July 2005

While there has been some fine reporting out of Iraq by journalists like the Washington Post's Anthony Shadid, there is no one in Iraq like Gloria Emerson, the New York Times' prize-winning reporter in Vietnam, with her boundless outrage against the war and her novelist's eye. Emerson's war wasn't the "bang bang" (as she called it). She covered war from the graveyards where Vietnamese mourned their dead and from the streets where homeless kids hustled GIs and lepers held out their babies for alms. Her story was how the Vietnamese got by day-by-day in the war, simply how they could stand it. So far in Iraq there has been no Gloria Emerson listening, as she did one night in Saigon, to her Vietnamese interpreter Nguyen Ngoc Luong and his office mates recite from memory verses from "The Tale of Kieu", Vietnam's great epic poem, their psychic bulwark against the mayhem that was devouring their country. But that kind of passionate identification with the people of a war-torn country, that kind of --dare we call it personal -- journalism which might help summon American empathy for the Iraqi victims of our war machine, isn't in fashion these days. Media cool and caution rule in our culture of fear.



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