Okay, So Maybe I’m Not So Bad after All

06.10.11

Categorie: David Axe, Reporters |
Tags: , ,

David Axe.

David Axe.

by DAVID AXE

University of South Carolina communications department dean Charles Bierbauer responds to the outrage following my recent speeches:

Understanding why a journalist chooses to cover a war is a challenge. That challenge was laid before students and faculty Tuesday when freelance journalist David Axe made two presentations on his experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Chad, Lebanon and other nasty, risky places to conduct his business.

In Afghanistan, Axe was riding in an army vehicle that detonated an IED. He explained to a visual communications class how he told that story of destruction, though mercifully not death, in different ways for different media. It kicked off a discussion about editing and self-censorship. To me, Axe sounded rather anti-war.

Later, speaking to another group, Axe said he “would be terrified if there were no wars” because he’d be out of the only job he’s good at. The Daily Gamecock reported on Axe’s speech and editorialized that Axe may enjoy his job “too much.” The Gamecock admonished that a “sick fascination with violence and death should inhabit no part of a war reporter’s mind.”

Agreed. The healthier fascination is to explore why wars take place, who stands to profit, who loses (almost always non-combatants) and what are sufficient national interests worth going to war and the inevitable conundrum — how many lives are a bearable cost. Don’t gasp. Strategic planners in the White House and Pentagon ask themselves these questions.

The College of Mass Communications and Information Studies brought Axe to campus — he’s a South Carolinian — as part of our annual I-Comm Week. The whole point of I-Comm Week is to engage students, faculty and the community with professionals, alumni and other experts in a conversation that extends our knowledge of the fields for which we are preparing our students.

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6 Responses to “Okay, So Maybe I’m Not So Bad after All”

  1. Jules Rivera says:

    College students: so idealistic, so judgmental and yet they haven’t the slightest damn clue what they’re talking about 90% of the time.

    I’ve been a defense contractor for six years, and I can tell you I’m a vastly different person than I was when I entered school. 9/11 happened in my freshman year and I thought I would contribute to the world by becoming an engineer and going into defense. Turns out defense contractors are amongst the most ass-backwards thinking, inefficient, politically contorted places to work and I’m sorry I ever got into this game. If I knew then what I knew now, I would’ve never wasted my time on an engineering degree.

    As for attitudes towards war, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of students haven’t been in a war zone and probably don’t know how they’d feel when they got there. I haven’t either but seeing how defense logistics works from the inside and hanging around A LOT of ex-military guys gives you a very curious perspective on the whole thing. A perspective you can’t gain from a cushy college auditorium.

  2. Steve Weintz says:

    @Jules, you said,

    “Turns out defense contractors are amongst the most ass-backwards thinking, inefficient, politically contorted places to work and I’m sorry I ever got into this game. If I knew then what I knew now, I would’ve never wasted my time on an engineering degree.”

    Too true, but have you considered working for Elon Musk? For my money he’s The NeXT Steve Jobs — they’re hiring at SpaceX and Tesla.

    Our defense industry has too much in common with Detroit and Hollywood. Bloated, self-absorbed, believing they’re irreplacable. Look what happened to the Big Three and what’s happening to the studios now.

  3. Steve Weintz says:

    @David –

    dilettante non carborundum 8-)

  4. Ted Rall says:

    Honesty pisses people off. You didn’t say anything that would shock someone thoughtful.

  5. Prestwick says:

    @Jules: Also the way things are going Tesla might well be the biggest American car manufacturer after Ford!

    There was nothing wrong with David’s speech only that he did it to students at a lecture which will get a negative reaction to anything that goes against the grain politically and socially at that University’s student power structures (namely the Student Union and the newspaper).

  6. Jilee says:

    the author is the very sick and twisted victim of war, i feel pitiful for him

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