CityBeat calendar editor Kinsee Morlan received an e-mail about a week and a half ago that, like many of the e-mails in her inbox, was short, simple and to the point. It was from Heather Campbell, vice president of the Atheist Coalition of San Diego, asking us to let our readers know about an upcoming event.
The event was a lecture, held this past Tuesday, by Atheist Coalition President Jeff Archer, who, the announcement said, "has photos from Iraq never before seen in the U.S."
Intrigued, Morlan handed a printed copy of the e-mail to staff writer Dan Strumpf, who in turn alerted editor Dave Rolland, and-well, the result of this chain reaction is right here on these pages. What you're looking at are photos taken by journalist Dahr Jamail, who's been making a name for himself with his independent coverage of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
"In 2003, many reporters went to Iraq, yet few reported," says Archer, an independent journalist in his own right. "To my surprise, articles began appearing here and there by Dahr Jamail. They were real. He went to the areas and visited morgues and spoke with the Iraqi people."
Archer-a zealous critic not only of the Americans' recent invasion and current occupation of Iraq, but also of the first Gulf War and subsequent economic embargo-wrote to Jamail to commend his work, and the pair developed a friendship.
Jamail has taken thousands of photos throughout Iraq. Wanting them to be seen by a wider audience, Archer asked for, and received, permission from Jamail to include many of them in a book he's working on that he expects to publish in a couple of months.
"These photos show the devastation that the U.S. thrust on Iraq," Archer says. "They show the human misery. And, they show the various aspects of a complicated Iraqi citizenry. They are real.
"Through Jamail's photos, you will see the Iraqi pride shine through the devastation," he adds. "Each one tells the proverbial thousand words."
CityBeat thanks Jamail, who provided the information for the captions, some of which we attempted to corroborate with other news sources, and Archer for allowing us to publish the photos. Jamail's website is www.dahrjamailiraq.com.