June 18, 2013
Coming of Rage in Neverland
Posted on May 12, 2011
By Mr. Fish
That’s why I could never be a conservative, stomach-churning self-absorption and teeth-rattling paranoia aside, because my understanding of how the world works is based much more on truths that are circumstantial and completely subjective rather than universal and unalterable.
Imagine for a moment that you are a dog or a cat or a horse or a deer or a fox living in Germany in the 1930s. Because the Third Reich has passed the most comprehensive animal rights legislation ever known to man, and because Adolf Hitler and Rudolf Hess and Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler are all ethical vegetarians, these are the best possible times for you and your family. You might assume that you are living in Paradise and that your future will surely involve a myriad of personal freedoms that your ancestors would’ve never thought possible. And then the Allies show up and ruin everything and you’re right back in the toilet.
The moral: Objectivity means different things to different people.
Which, I guess, brings us to the recent predawn killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan. It has been said that the two things that people don’t ever want to see being made are sausages and legislation. I’d amend that to say that doubly ugly to people is legislation that makes sausage. Wars are perhaps the most obvious example of that. Nobody wanted to look at the Iraq Liberation Act when it was passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in ’98, for example, nor did they want to look at the Iraq War Resolution or the Bush Doctrine or the Patriot Act that came later, for fear of being revolted by the grotesque notion that America might not be anything more than just a sloppy imperialistic plutocracy held together by a handful of Toby Keith songs and somewhere around 250 million late credit card payments.
In fact, I still find it reprehensible how purposely incurious the general public remained during Colin Powell’s criminal behavior at the U.N. Security Council in 2002, really ground zero for the bloodbath in Iraq in which we ended up drowning. Criminal, because the sincerity of his plea for invasion, with his itty-bitty vial of white powder and hammy, faux-Gregory Peck pomposity, was about as convincing an expression of genuine statesmanship as Danny Partridge’s bass playing was a convincing demonstration of … well, bass playing, yet it still led to the murder of, by some estimates, as many as a million people, and we’re still counting. And we’re still supporting the troops. Wherever we wind them up and turn them loose.
I did a cartoon in 2004 that made use of an iconic 1941 photograph taken by a German soldier of a fellow German soldier throwing a potato masher grenade during the Second World War somewhere in Russia. What struck me about the photograph when I stumbled upon it was how similar, minus the potato masher grenade, a 1941 German soldier and a 21st century U.S. soldier looked, particularly when it came to the shape of their helmets. Looking at the German soldier, who had been photographed on black and white film, his forest green camouflage indistinguishable from desert camouflage, I had to look twice to see that I wasn’t looking at an American soldier crouching in the rubble of Tikrit or in a trash pile in Ghaziabad. The caption I chose for the image was: I can’t tell if this is a German soldier from 1944 or an American soldier from 2005 (and neither can his victims). After posting it on MSNBC.com, I received upward of 300 emails mostly wishing to see my brains yanked out and stomped on by much more wholesome Americans than myself. I quickly followed it up with a cartoon depicting a squad of American Marines, an individual line drawn to each separate soldier labeling him as a good guy. Then I drew a bracket encompassing all of them and labeled the sum total as bad guys. “Dear Shithead,” began the kindest email I received in response. “Since you are such a muslim lover, do the rest of us a favor and move to an arab country and STAY there. Scrawlings like yours have entertained defecators around the world ever since the invention of the rest room stall partition.”
I immediately thought of the Antonin Artaud quote, Where there is a stink of shit there is a smell of being, and I sent a note in reply thanking him for the compliment.
Another email, by a woman named Lindsey, read, “I think your cartoon is a horrible affront to all the men and women serving in our armed forces. Good thing I’m not president—I’d have you tried for treason and hung at sun rise! Why don’t you move to, say, Iran and settle down among those of your ilk?” I responded by saying that I didn’t think the job she was describing was that of president. I guessed that it might instead be ayatollah, emperor, fuhrer, czar or perhaps Caesar. Then I thought of the George Bernard Shaw quote: New opinions often appear first as jokes and fancies, then as blasphemies and treason, then as questions open to discussion, and finally as established truths, and I shuddered at the thought of living long enough to one day be identified as a tireless champion of established truths.
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