The Soiling of Old Glory won Pulitzers.
The image is iconic. It does not simply reproduce an event; it crystallizes something out of life itself.
A new book now suggests that previous and subsequent shots taken by the photographer seem to suggest a slightly different story — that one man was trying to protect another for being speared by a young man wielding an American flag. The victim was a victim simply because of the color of his skin.
Isn’t it interesting that few people cared about the unseen photos? It’s taken more than 30 years for anyone to be willing to accept the facts don’t entirely support the perception.
In this age of chat forums and instant communication, it’s alarming to think about how quickly perception becomes certainty. Emotion. Hearsay. Gossip. Unsubstantiated rumors. How quickly do you believe something someone said — or posted online?
Always ask for proof. Demanding verification doesn’t mean you think your friend is lying to you. Perhaps his friend who told him might simply have misunderstood or misheard.
Maybe, as in the case of this iconic photo, you’re forming an opinion based on part of the action, a fraction of the facts.
What happened to the gentleman in this photo is still terrifying. It’s still shameful. But if, indeed, the man behind him is trying to protect him, doesn’t that complete the story? That courage balances cowardice? That for every narrow-minded hateful thoughtless action is a selfless act of concern and compassion?
Please, let’s participate in civil discourse. Let’s understand before we speak and ask before we accuse.