Almost invariably, when we human beings see pictures of little children we go gaga, goo-goo! I remember so well those pictures in all the American magazines I used to buy in Beirut during the fifties, sixties and early seventies. They depicted all those cherubic-looking, blond, blue-eyed Gerber babies that were just so adorable. I was still “under the influence” in those days – “influence” being that everything US was terrific! I woke up from that fantasy pretty quickly after that, and after realizing what the sordid intentions of the white Western World were regarding the rest of the colored world!

During the years since Vietnam, and those horrific pictures of maimed and Napalm-burned children, we have seen in magazines, newspapers and on our television screens the pictures of thousands of little boys and girls maimed, snatched, burned, jailed, traumatized, tortured, uprooted and orphaned all across the hot spots of our globe. We have seen, and read about indigenous children, kidnapped from their parents, placed in colonist orphanages where they are re-trained to become civilized – aka: behave like Whites. We have seen, and read about the abducted children being trained as suicide bombers and killers. We have seen, and read about the enslaved children being trafficked for sick sex. And on and on goes the depraved exploitation. Some of those images have left me sleepless for nights on end! I am, of course, not alone.

There was something very disturbing, though about the recent picture of that lone little Syrian boy with blood on his face, looking totally forlorn and lost, that wrenched the hearts of millions of people all over the world. So, too, did the startling body of a two-year-old child of migrants dead and listlessly washed up on the shore. They were both shocking, ugly situations; the senseless result of a war fuelled by ruthless objectives; by greed, arrogance and corruption, and political leaders on all sides who have lost any semblance of humanity, or compassion! I am sure that any person, especially those who have children or grandchildren around those little children’s ages, were extremely disturbed as they hugged their safe, well-fed, clean children.

I applaud and admire all the photographers risking their own lives sometimes to bring us those pictures. However, what struck me as a very distressing aspect was that certain agendas are sometimes using the plight of children as props to arouse emotions against this or that or the other. This is unconscionable. As human beings with twenty-one centuries of history and experience we should not need tragic pictures of little children to remind us of the ugliness and the horrors of war. We should not need to see a maimed, or burnt child in order to arrive to a political decision as to which side is right or wrong, or whom we are with or against in what is essentially a criminal endeavor to begin with, and no matter who is advocating it. We should not need the pictures of orphaned, uprooted children to make us realize which side is “good” and which is “evil,” when every side in every war that involves innocent children (and they all do) is wicked and immoral.

Every political faction, and every country has used the images of war-torn children in order to elicit our emotions and to prove to us that they are the moral defenders of what is right, while the other side is causing the children to suffer because they are depraved! Every participant in a war is immoral, and we know that all of them have caused children to suffer, to be traumatized, to be killed senselessly! There is no one who is holier-than-thou in any war. Every political leader’s hands are soaked with the blood of the innocent. Every political leader is guilty of the most egregious kind of crimes against humanity

The United States, Israel and all the Western nations will never be able to cleanse their murderous hands from the blood of millions of Middle Easterner children. That blood will haunt them, as well it should!

There is a huge difference between sharing pictures of one’s children, or grandchildren on social media and doing a little bit of bragging as we all sometimes do, and using similar pictures by governments and organizations in order to elicit emotional reactions for the ultimate goal of political gain, charitable giving, or sexual arousal. This is exploitation. Child Exploitation! Pure and simple!

We all need to grow up, to become smart-thinking adults and stop behaving like teenagers at a horror show gasping and screaming and then emerging from that experience only to forget our shock once the appalling images are not staring us in the face! How can we do that and call ourselves compassionate humans? Do we really need to see pictures of burned and starved Jews in Hitler’s camps to realize the horrors of the Holocaust?  Isn’t it enough to simply be aware of such immoral acts for us to recoil in revulsion and to shout from the rooftops: Never Again! Never Again for Jews, or Anyone else! Do we really need to see the pictures of gleeful, racist Israeli settlers after they burn a Palestinian child by making him swallow gasoline and lighting a match, or igniting him in his bed and home in order to be shocked by an ongoing illegal, criminal, immoral occupation?

And, yes, I do realize that graphics are stimulating and, in most cases, will elicit emotional reactions. That is not enough to convince me anymore that we need to see horror being perpetrated on little children in order for us to feel charitable, to sense pain, revulsion, anger, fury or anything else. We should feel that way without governments, institutions, or specific agendas using appalling images of little children to provoke our response and to achieve a sick political, monetary, or sexual objective. 

Any Exploitation of Any Child should be a criminal transgression and should be condemned by one and all.

The Guardian reported on January 30, 2016 that the criminal intelligence agency, Europol (European Police), estimates that there are 10,000 immigrant children who have disappeared over the past year. Vanished! What is happening to these hapless victims? How do we allow this abuse and criminality to continue and say that we are civilized? Moreover, this is the main result of senseless wars and uprooting! How do we sleep at night knowing of such crimes, being apathetic, acquiescing to the powers that be who allow it to continue reprehensibly unabated?

However, I am also gratified these days when I see pictures of babies and children in our glossy publications who have different ethnicities; to read articles about the achievements of children with special needs and see their beautiful pictures; to realize that there are people speaking up saying that no child should go hungry, be traumatized, victimized, and suffer because adult politicians and leaders cannot solve their issues and differences without going to war. How ludicrous is this, really! We should demand to show all our professed love for children by not Exploiting them any more! We ought to demand that our leaders negotiate with their mouths and not from the mouth of a gun!

4 thoughts on “Exploitation”

  1. Hala, thank you for an excellent post, as usual! I need to push back a little, however.
    Sometimes it takes pictures of suffering children to raise awareness about an issue. Some people literally do not know about ongoing conflicts despite all the news that’s available. Remember the “what is Aleppo” scandal? I don’t believe that was a brain freeze; I believe it was utter ignorance. The pictures of Aylin Kurdi (drowned refugee child) and Omran Daqneesh (traumatized child in Aleppo) raised the average person’s awareness about the ongoing suffering in Syria. When we use these images, it is to inform the public at large and get movements going, not to solicit funds. Aylin and Omran are by no means isolated incidents and their condition is representative of a huge proportion of Syrian children.


  2. Hala, another brilliant and humanistic post.
    It is unfortunate that it takes these horrible pictures to convince the many that war is not something that happens far away and only kills the “bad guys” and traumatizes some of our “brave boys in uniform”. It is not simply a video game where pressing a button has no real life consequences. Those who push for war are unconscionable because they know the carnage and dislocation it creates among the innocents. And worse, they are doing it for profit and not for benevolent reasons such as to save people from the dictators that they themselves have put in place and supported for years.
    I will definitely distribute.


  3. Dear, thoughtful and thought-provoking friend:
    You are continuing proof to me that we need journalists, big or small, in newspapers and magazines as well as blogs, such as yours, to remind us that we need to engage with what is happening all around us in this scary global mess that is the world today, and to question it with faith, or hope, that thought and analysis can make a difference.
    Keep up the good work!


  4. You are so right!
    But, many of the people ARE demanding, however the so-called media and corporate mafias continue to cheat us and shove a-holes like DT and HC down the throats of citizens with limited memory capacity. So what’s left for the good people to do?
    We seriously need a revolution. Nothing less than that will give humanity a chance of saving this planet and its children!

    Think #greennewdeal 😉


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