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May 24, 2010

Death of the Pelicans

It’s deathly scenes like this, and worse, that is driving today’s political and media narrative. (It also helps explain the motivation to apply massive amounts of dispersant to drive the oil slick underground — or, underwater.)

Never mind that a ’79 spill in the Gulf wasn’t capped for 9 months, or that these scenes of beach, marsh and wildlife damage have been predictable for weeks. As much as we can know about evils and catastrophe (and, this is the major argument for making public imagery such as the entire “War on Terror” torture archive), it’s the only the experience of actually seeing this kind of devastation that makes the fact real and felt.

Gerald Herbert/AP

And with fresh pictures like these of herons and pelicans flooding the newswire, evoking visual analogies to nuclear winter, burn victims, fire storms, anorexia,blackness, plague, infant death, and even the Holocaust, these scenes — from the alternately panicked and worked-up Senators descending on the Gulf today, to the defensive White House, to the brazen folks at BP — are being more than felt.

(image 1 caption: A young heron sits dying amidst oil splattering underneath mangrove on an island impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Barataria Bay, just inside the the coast of Louisiana, Sunday, May 23, 2010. The is home to hundreds of herons, brown pelicans, terns, gulls and roseate spoonbills.)

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