A Letter to the Omaha World-Herald
With the civilian and military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan climbing past 40,000 (sadder still: can we ever know exactly the number?), I was disappointed that Jeff Koterba's June 14 cartoon turns the metaphorical "bomb" of President Bush's "improved ratings" on Democratic Party headquarters into such a happy event.
The cartoon references mass violence so haphazardly that readers are done a disservice; the unserious mode of the cartoon becomes a simulacrum for many Americans' refusal to even think about the implications of Bush Administration policies of unprovoked war and occupation.
This how I narrate this cartoon: Koterba would have us recite in unison: "Kill! Kill! Kill!," and if those being killed are undesirable, like nameless Iraqi civilians or Democratic donkeys, enjoy a hearty, collective laugh.
Talk about inscribing bad karma. This cartoon is so inanely unselfconscious of its own prejudices regarding mass violence that I'm inclined to ask the cartoonist, What was the last time you were injured in an accident? Did you perceive the threat to your health as humorous in nature? Was the accident worthy of making into a jokey metaphor?
Koterba should watch the 2004 documentary "Control Room," where an Al-Jazeera journalist finds himself literally bombed by the American military, or at least consult a media source that gets out of the Green Zone in Baghdad.
Would OWH readers want their kids joking about violence in the way this cartoon does?
An addendum might be this, from Juan Cole's blog, which shows that because of the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the PM of Iraq didn't know about meeting Bush until FIVE minutes beforehand, and that Bush couldn't even step in a car or truck for transportation -- too dangerous!