Joe Sacco interviewed by PETER BREEDVELD in 2005 for the Dutch weblog Frontaal Kaakt.
You have to be careful
You choose sides in your stories. Isn’t that very ‘un-journalistic’?
Yeah. Well, I mean I’ll give you another very clear example of a war where one side was absolutely wrong: the Nazis were totally wrong. I would rather read an account by someone who would raise an alarm in my head about who the Nazis are and what they’re doing. It’s an extreme case, but I’m using it as an example. I would much rather read a writer I trust for whatever reasons to tell me what’s happening, instead of saying: Okay, this is what they are saying, that the Nazis kill Jews and this and that, but the Nazis are saying something else. You begin to muddy the waters when you go like this.
I am not saying there are no other sides to a story. There are. But I think it doesn’t mean each side has the same moral equivalence. They seldom do. What the Bosnian-Serbs were doing in Bosnia was outrageous. It doesn’t mean the Muslims didn’t commit atrocities. But certainly not as an overarching policy. An individual commander might have done some atrocities. But the Bosnian-Serb policy to expel people and kill them that’s wrong!
Isn’t it a thin and dangerous line to take one point of view? The Nazis are a very extreme example.
It ís different. I am going to do a comic at some point about the Serb side. It doesn’t mean that I agree with them, of course not. You can easily get lost in listening to what people have to say. Another example: in Raffa, In Israel, there was a Palestinian demonstration and a helicopter fired and killed eight or nine demonstrators. Okay, that’s the fact. The Israeli government put out maybe four different stories of what could have happened. Okay, you can report these stories, but the problem… and maybe you should report them but I’d rather a journalist said: the Israelis are saying this but you have to put it in the context of what did happen.
Journalists can be manipulated because the American way of doing journalism is you are going to give the other guy a chance to say his piece. But you have to be careful. You have to look at it and ask yourself how much truth is in what they are telling you, rather than just reporting it like, ‘Well, the Israelis say this.’
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