Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is Violence Ever The Proper Response? Thoughts About A Photograph.

I saw this picture yesterday and it haunted me.  It was taken by a Swedish photographer, Hans Runesson,  in 1985, during a march in Sweden by a small number of neo-nazis:

Everything else I was able to find about the picture is rumors.  One rumor states that the woman hitting the flag-carrying neo-nazi with her handbag is a concentration camp survivor. 

Because I don't have the names of the people in the picture, I cannot falsify or verify that or any of the other rumors, including some which suggest that the neo-nazi in the picture is currently in prison for murder.

But it is really the picture itself which haunts me, because it proposes difficult questions:  Is violence ever the proper response?  What if one is the survivor of horrible violence and others are free to celebrate that violence in public?  Does it matter that the violence in the picture is clearly more symbolic than real?