Pictures of injustice: Do they change minds or just drive people away?

attacked by dogs

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "America will never reject racism until America sees racism." Was he wrong?

With abortion pictures, we send a strong message to a culture that prefers to ignore or trivialize abortion.  We also have a message for pro-lifers who think we are too confrontational:  No social reform movement has ever succeeded by covering up injustice.

Social reformers win when they expose injustice and make people uncomfortable with the status quo.  This is perhaps the overriding theme of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail.

Commenting on the WBIR story about our GAP on Market Square, Lissa wrote:

This is no way to win hearts, Dr Armstrong. If anything, you turn people away and they will never hear the message that all life is sacred. Please go watch 180MovieDotCom and learn a loving, Christ-filled way to truly get through to people’s hearts.

I responded:

Ms. Hailey, our operating principle comes from the King family. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “America will not reject racism until America sees racism.” He was successful in bringing social change because he was able to bring about the broadcast/publication of video/photos that made people see what racism was all about. When they saw Black men and women being attacked with dogs and water cannons, they realized that segregation was way worse than they imagined. His niece, Dr. Alveda King, now says, in the same way, “America will never reject abortion until America sees abortion.”

Thomas Clarkson used a diagram of a slave ship to help end the slave trade in England. Clarkson’s biographer Adam Hochschild said that “Iconic images have power because they allow us to see what previously we could barely imagine.” American abolitionists use images to help people see the horror of slavery. Lewis Hine used photographs to show people what abusive child labor looked like.

In every one of these examples, social reformers were successful when they exposed injustice. Can you name one example in which reformers were successful by covering up injustice?

I would encourage you to read the statement by Alabama Clergymen (12 April 1963), which prompted Dr. Martin Luther King’s now-famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail. These well-intentioned clergymen said, in essence, that Dr. King was too confrontational, that his tactics did nothing to solve the problem of racism, and that he should just stay home. Then read his response. He explained why it was necessary to create in society a discomfort with the status quo. Without that discomfort, there is no pressure for change. He explains it much better than I can. If his letter leaves you unconvinced, then there is not much more I can say.

Lisa replied:

No, there isn’t anything more to say if you think that showing huge pictures of dismembered fetuses is changing anyone’s heart for the better. It’s not just “uncomfortable” … it’s shocking, it is revolting, it is offensive and turns people OFF and they are NOT hearing your message … AT ALL.

Further, you are handing the enemies of life ammunition to use against not only you but everyone else that advocates for life, especially that of the unborn. I state that I am pro-life and I am automatically assumed to be “one of those crazy people waving around pictures of fetal tissue” and one step away from bombing an abortion clinic. MY message of love is LOST because of YOUR offensive pictures.

Go look at what Ray Comfort is doing 180movie … HE is changing hearts, or rather, he is opening hearts to the love of Christ and from there Christ is changing hearts and minds. God is using Him to bring love, hope and a message of life to a world mired in sin in the name of pleasure and convenience … and it is working. What you are doing is not.

My response:

They are not hearing our message? Tell that to the nine babies whose lives were saved when their mothers saw the pictures over at UTK the first time. Tell that to Lisa and Suzanne at the end of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8Rk44gn824

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