Photojournalist Lorna Tychostup’s presentation, “The War in Iraq: Looking into the Eyes of the Enemy” attracted an excited crowd. With her photo exhibit/presentation, Tychostup showed pictures she took on a two-week trip to Baghdad this February. Her travel motive was to “bring home the face of the Iraqi people.”
Tychostup, who was recently interviewed on the Fox News Channel’s show “Hannity and Combs,” illegally traveled to Baghdad with the anti-war group “Voices in the Wilderness.” She photographed the journey to show Americans who the people in Baghdad really are and what Baghdad actually looks like.
“If we’re going to war, I want to see who we’re fighting,” Tychostup said as she showed various photos of poor children, scarred adults and trash-lined streets in Baghdad.
One picture showed a little boy smiling for the camera while searching through a dumpster for food. Other pictures depicted various children’s art projects with pictures of doves, the American flag and other symbols of hope and peace. She later remarked how “normal” these children are – just like American children. Yet, the fear of war, and now the reality of it is “always in the back of their heads.”
In other pictures, adults and families were shown welcoming Tychostup.
“I have never seen so many scarred people,” she said in regards to the citizens of Baghdad. She said that despite their scars, the people were not anti-American. Ironically, she said that the citizens “felt that America had been abducted” by President George Bush the same way they were abducted by Saddam Hussein.
While the citizens did not support Hussein, they said they’d rather be under his rule than be bombed.
“We’d rather have 10 Saddams than one Bush,” one citizen said to Tychostup.
Tychostup also showed shots of desolate street areas filled with trash and surrounded by buildings in much need of repair.
“The streets were filled with raw sewage in many towns,” Tychostup said, while showing pictures of streets covered in garbage. One picture showed the bathroom the group used, which consisted of a couple of holes in the ground.
“She definitely brought home a view of the people in Iraq that we’d never seen before,” Megan McChesney, senior communication studies major, said.
Tychostup also photographed other anti-war groups in Baghdad. She said that there were groups from all over the world protesting the war.
Many audience members were shocked to see this because it wasn’t shown in the American press. Numerous shots of sit-downs, banners and peace walks that Tychostup showed “were ignored by the American broadcast companies” and not shown on American TV, she said. Several pictures showed banners that said “No War for Oil” and “Boycott American Corporate.”
Lorna Johnson, professor of communication studies, found Tychostup’s presentation of the Iraqi people as well as the conditions they live in “just heart- wrenching.”
Many students and professors stayed after the program to talk to and thank Tychostup for bringing home the face of the Iraqi people.