“Incredible Courage”

Little Green Footballs notes one of the New York Times’ “memorable photographs,” which was taken by Times photographer Joao Silva. Silva was in the room with a “Mahdi Army” sniper who was trying to kill American soldiers:

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The Times’ commentary on the photo, by Assistant Managing Editor for Photography Michele McNally:

Right there with the Mahdi army. Incredible courage.

We have written before about the wire services’ use of Iraqi stringers who appear to be members of, or at the least friendly with, terrorist groups. This is a step beyond that, as Silva isn’t just an anonymous stringer, but is a famous photographer under contract to the Times. And, as far as I can see from his web site, Silva’s entire book, In the Company of God, is shot from the perspective of the insurgents. So he must have been quite comfortable in their company. Jeff Goldstein says:

Incredible courage? Well, far be it for me to question such self-congratulatory enthusiasm, but it seems to me that actual “incredible courage” would have entailed, say, Joao Silva getting word to US troops, or his bumrushing the sniper and beating him unconscious with a heavy telephoto lens.

Whereas what we’ve witnessed here is the product of dangerous opportunism in the service of plaudits and cocktail party invites.

It would have required courage to hang out with the Mahdi Army, if there were any likelihood that a member of the Iraqi “insurgency” would regard a representative of the New York Times as an enemy.

UPDATE: Lawrence Stich doesn’t think much of the “insurgent’s” skill as a sniper, and wonders whether the photo is staged.

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