Professor leads Heroism in a Moral Wasteland discussion about the Iraq war

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Meredith Shepherd

Equinox Staff


Digging deep inside the power of the Iraq War can be difficult with the media in today’s society.

Films do not always depict the war the United States is fighting overseas, but Keene State College film studies professor, Dr. Debra White-Stanley proposed her views during her project, “Heroism in a Moral Wasteland: Media, Medical Personnel and the Iraq War.”

Stanley presented her project in the Thorne Meeting Room of the Thorne Sagendorph Art Gallery.

She said the basis of her project was to show the invisible.

“I hope to draw attention to the unseen people. The ones making a contribution far away and close to home,” Stanley said.

During her presentation she showed three films and one televised program.

The introduction showed stills of “The Hurt Locker” and Stanley compared the images in the film to America’s addiction to war and what happens in Iraq.

“Explosions are taken for granted in war films, but not here,” Stanley said.

Stanley said Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft cites a line from an episode of “M*A*S*H” and the rules about war; the first rule being young men die and the second rule stating doctors can’t change rule number one.

Stanley brought stills for the film, “Lioness: Female Veterans as Life Takers and Life Givers.”

The film shows its audience the everlasting medical trauma of war.  The photos were that of graphic war demonstrations and sexual imagery.

“It was tempting to start out with the nurses in the war, but this seemed less romantic,” Stanley said.

Stanley said that the film focuses on “Team Lioness.”

“Team Lioness” models the postures they want Iraqi women to assume, arms extended, palms raised to the sky,” Stanley said.

The film also shifts the focus from the heroism of serving in combat to the aftermath of the military service, according to Stanley.

“Home Front,” the third film Stanley referenced is about a young man who was injured during the war.

He is blind now and suffers traumatic brain injury.  The man, Jeremy, is a spokesperson for Wounded Warriors.

Wounded Warriors is an organization that bridges veterans together and raises money according to Stanley.

During Stanley’s presentation she showed clips of different scenarios and all of the clips showed what the Iraq War aftermath can do to a person.

Stanley asked the audience if they can admit that they watch the Lifetime television series, “Army Wives”.

Stanley said that “Army Wives” shows social class, mothering, and military work.

“All this is part of the way the “Army Wives” systematically breaks down the competence of any female character who displays professional skill and courage, allowing the series to continually focus attention on the masculine,” Stanley said.

Before showing the most graphic and completely raw and organic footage of her entire presentation, Stanley said the media offers a fun-house of a war.

“The current American casualty count for Iraq is 4,359, with over 32,000 soldiers wounded and many more suffering from psychological injuries that have yet to manifest,” Stanley said.

“I want to end by noting that none of the film I have discussed here today shows us anything about the realities of what the war has done to the Iraq medical system,” Stanley said.

Stanley then said the kind of terrifying and truthfulness about the medical personnel in Iraq is portrayed in the film, “Life and Death in the War Zone.”  The clip Stanley ends with shows how American soldiers do not aid in medical attention for the Iraqi people.

KSC senior Tara Cunningham said she is a critical film study major and she attended this event with her class, but she said she is so much more aware of what is going on.

“I don’t want my husband going overseas anymore,” Cunningham said.

Stanley said she hopes the audience understands the truth behind what is actually happening.

“I know a lot of you grew up watch “Saving Private Ryan”, but that just doesn’t depict war,” Stanley said.

Stanley said she wanted to speak about medical personnel in the Iraq War because it is hidden to the American people.

“I wanted to do my project on medical personnel because I feel like not very many know what is going on because our media doesn’t really show it,” Stanley said.


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