Here is a picture that was posted by the AP on July 2, 2007 (AP/Hadi Mirzban) and found its way onto Yahoo’s “The Week in Photos June 29-July 5,” but thus far it seems to have alluded all the other major news institutions including the New York Times and the Washington Post:
The caption tells the tale: “A 4-year-old Iraqi child cries as older boys stage a mock execution in Baghdad on Monday, July 2. Apparently influenced by ongoing violence in the country, children’s games mimic the war. One of the more popular games is acting out clashes between militias and police.”
I simply don’t know how to react to this. The guns look all too real, as does the pain on the middle child’s face. The smile, however, is perhaps the most troubling of all. It should tell us that this is all a game — not much different, perhaps, from the games of “cowboys and indians” that many in my generation played in the 1950s and early 1960s. But then I recall the smiling faces from Abu Ghraib and the smile of youthful innocence and pure joy seems all of a sudden perverse and obscene. I wonder how we might react if these were contemporary pictures of children from the inner cities of New York or Los Angeles playing “cops” and “gangs.” Perhaps that’s why it didn’t show up in major news outlets.