18 February 2009

Either utter incompetence or evil, take your pick

The above photo is from October, 1968 issue of Time magazine. The caption is a bit hard to read, so here it is:
"The North Koreans are having a hard time proving to the world that the captive crewmen of the U.S.S. Pueblo are a contrite and cooperative lot. Last week Pyongyang's flacks tried again - and lost to the U.S. Navy. In this class-reunion picture, three of the crewmen have managed to use the medium for a message, furtively getting off the U.S. hand signal of obscene derisiveness and contempt."

One account of the results:
"I guess that's why the crew never cooperates with Time magazine to this day," 63-year-old Alvin Plucker explained last week from his Fort Lupton home. "I know the reporters who call from Time probably weren't even born when we were captured, but we went through Hell Week because of that magazine."

I cannot fathom the depths of idiocy a writer would have to sink to while writing that caption. And the fact that it passed through at least one editor (and probably several) before going to print...

It was either evil or incompetence. I'd like to think news reporting organizations would have the sense or morality to avoid repeating this event, but somehow I doubt it.



Anonymous said...

I'm gonna guess incompetence. They probably had no inkling at all that they were being tortured, that the N. Koreans even read Time, or that they would be punished so severly if the N.K.s ever saw the article. They probably thought they were doing the upbeat and patriotic thing by proving to the rest of America that these Navy guys had not submitted to the Commies, despite what their propoganda machine was telling the world. They probably assumed they were doing them a favor by proving they were still loyal to America and had not fallen to Communist brainwashing after all. Yeah, it was supremely stupid. But I highly doubt they wrote it with malicious intent at all.

Brandon said...

A good argument, Anon. I lean towards incompetence myself... but it still boggles the mind at just how naive you'd have to be to assume there wouldn't be any reprisals against the POW's.