Friday, November 30, 2018

Dignity Takes a Break

Photo by Gene Herrick, AP
September 27, 1950. West of Taegu, South Korea, on the banks of the Naktong River.  Three months have passed since the start of the Korean War.  The clash of arms precipitated a massive flow of civilians, desperate to escape harm's onslaught. But for American troops just introduced to the melee, it's complicated.  This awkward image shows a U.S. 24th Division military policeman frisking the mother of at least one small child.  In a general sense, the civilians are innocent.  The Americans found out the hard way that civilian refugees were tactical pawns in this struggle. Most Koreans were simple peasants who had no capacity for the ideological issues that framed the war raging around them.  But they could be coerced by combatants of either side to aid and abet the war effort, simply by reporting observations of troop movements or by carrying weapons or supplies. Hence we see the invasive security measures in practice. If truth is the first casualty of war, then dignity is next on the list.

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