John Lucaites Archives
48 Posts
Iraq and Afghanistan War Photo May 11, 2011

Ankle Deep in the Big Muddy

In the photograph, the soldier walking through a combat outpost in Kandahar is only ankle deep. And so one would like to think that there is still hope for him ... until we see the next photo.

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Iraq and Afghanistan War Photo May 5, 2011

“… and a Haughty Spirit before a Fall”

For some, no doubt, Osama bin Laden has been brought to justice. And that is no small thing. But what exactly does it mean to count that as a marker of “winning”?

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Disaster Focus Photo April 20, 2011

Haiti/Japan: Similar Disaster, Different Pictures

When we look West to Japan we see something rather like ourselves. When we look South, however, we see something altogether different.

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Iraq and Afghanistan War Photo April 4, 2011

America’s Afghan Crusade

To the extent that the War in Afghanistan is a war on terror its success or failure will turn on winning “hearts and minds” throughout the Muslim world. It is hard to imagine how displays such as this can serve a productive end.

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Culture Focus Photo March 23, 2011

What Are Unions Good For?

As we debate the value of unions in the days ahead, we are well advised to recall the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and worker's needs to have for a collective voice in representing their interests, particularly in the face of efforts to castigate unions as little more than selfish,...

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John Lucaites Photo December 23, 2010

I’d Stick to the Reindeer

Today, not even an army of ACLU lawyers could save Santa Claus from the indignities of being patted and probed by the uniform wearing the rubber blue glove.

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John Lucaites Photo November 30, 2010

Treaties, Credit Taking and our So-Called Democratic Culture

The above photograph is nearly fifty years old and I doubt very many people have ever seen it before—or can identify the event that it marks. I couldn’t. Nevertheless, it is interesting for several reasons.

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Iraq and Afghanistan War Photo October 4, 2010

Got a Tired Occupation on Your Hands? Feminize It.

In the end, female marines with guns are, well, simply marines with the guns.

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Culture Focus Photo October 1, 2010

The Impossible Dream

This was not just a stunt pulled off by students that had nothing better to do with their Sunday afternoon; rather, it was a concerted effort borne of the recognition that they had no legitimate, recognized voice in a policy debate that directly implicated their future.

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John Lucaites Photo September 22, 2010

DADT: Media Gaga Over Everything … Except What She Had to Say

Most of the reports on her rally are primarily, if not exclusively photographic, almost to the exclusion of what she actually had to say. The irony, of course, is that a quasi-faux rally cast as political spectacle received far more coverage than the presumably unintentional spectacle of actual Senators...

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John Lucaites Photo September 17, 2010

Why There are So Few Pictures of the Attack on the Pentagon

After a recent class one of my students wrote with a question, wondering why it was that there are so many pictures of firefighters at ground zero and no pictures of “the Pennsylvania flight or the DC attack.” Of course, such pictures do exist and they have had...

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Iraq and Afghanistan War Photo September 8, 2010

The First Guy to Die in "Post-Combat" Combat vs. the Last Guy to Die in Combat (And Other All-Too-Fine Distinctions)

No soldier wants to be the last casualty in a war, but that designation pales in comparison to being the first fataliyy in a combat mission that has already been declared “over.” One week after “turning the page” on Operation Freedom two unidentified U.S. soldiers were killed by Iraqi...

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Disaster Focus Photo August 25, 2010

Beyond "Compassion Fatigue": A Tale of Two Cities

Those who decry “compassion fatigue” have plenty to support their claims, but if we look closely we might see differences that warrant less knee jerk reactions. As a case in point, consider the difference between the floods in Pakistan and the mudslide in Zhouqu County, China.

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Afghanistan Photo July 26, 2010

The Fog(ging) of War

The fact of the matter is that we have been shown evidence of virtually every one of these concerns over the past, long, ten years and we have chosen not to see them. Like the soldier in the photograph above, caught in the rotor wash of a MEDEVAC helicopter...

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John Lucaites Photo July 19, 2010

Why a Penny Saved is Not Always a Penny Earned

In the days following 9/11 we were told that it was our civic duty to consume in order to keep the economy on its feet; the now prolonged recession makes even this limited civic responsibility impossible for many to honor; and for others, well, as the Times reporter notes,...

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Disaster Focus Photo July 15, 2010

An Economic Model of Greed (Or, The Legacy of Gordon Gekko)

The first and more obvious point concerns what this photograph (and others like it from the Texas City explosion and the leak in Alaska) actually shows. The evidence of the impending disaster of Deepwater Horizon was literally before our eyes at least as early as 2005, but we...

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John Lucaites Photo July 7, 2010

Flag Fetish

There is of course nothing wrong in celebrating America’s heritage with displays of the flag, especially on the anniversary of our national “birth,” but notice here how the elongated flag (one of three in the photograph) is completely out of scale with its surroundings—both in size and dimension—as if...

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Disaster Focus Photo June 6, 2010

Fear and Self-Loathing in an Environmental Catastrophe

What we see in the photograph then is an image of ourselves. The disgust we experience in viewing it is a measure of self-loathing animated by the implicit recognition of own impurities and decrepitude.

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