Take a look at the dom photo of Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. Then read the caption that ran under the photo.
Can you spot the manipulative use of language?
It’s pretty simple really. The prisoners are identified simply as Georgians, making it sound as if they are innocent captives of the “Russian troops.” Both Georgians sport military haircuts and camo BUD pants indicating that in all likelihood they are soldiers as well, but they are not identifed as such.
Had the caption writer simply called the Russians Russians, it would have been fair. Had the writer termed the detainees Georgian soldiers, it would have been fair.
Rather, the caption was written in a way that lets us know we should think of the Georgians as victims and the Russians as aggressors.
More photos from the same incident can be found here. The original AP caption contains the same inconsistent use of qualifiers.
Georgians with their eyes covered sit atop of a Russian armored personnel carrier while being detained by Russian troops in the Black Sea port city of Poti, western Georgia, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008. Russian troops entered the port of Poti on Tuesday, to detain Georgian people and to loot US military equipment left behind after a joint Georgian, US military exercise. The movements of Russian forces in Georgia raised questions about whether Russia was fulfilling its side of the cease-fire intended to end the short but intense fighting between Georgians, Russians and its allies. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
This caption is worse. Now, the “Russian troops” are detaining “Georgian people.” Furthermore, the soldiers were also there to “loot US military equipment.” Sorry, but I’ve got to call bullshit.
It isn’t looting. It is capturing. You don’t just leave weapons behind when invading another country. Capturing weapons caches is a significant part of the job description.
Don’t get me wrong; I support America unequivocally. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have to support my country’s allies. I’ve read enough to know that I don’t know a thing about what is going on, but I refuse to buy the narrative I’m being fed. When manipulative writing is employed to aid the telling of that narrative, my skepticism grows.