Thursday, October 1, 2009

Doonesbury once again voice of reason: reject hostile conservative discourse

A recent Doonesbury cartoon by Garry Trudeau recently made my day.

A veteran political cartoon artist, Trudeau has been drawing Doonesbury for decades. His comics entertain thousands of readers daily through contemporary political humor, and some consider his comic to be an American institution.

Yesterday, reading Doonesbury in the Capital Times, I was once again moved by Trudeau's imagery and words of insight.

The comic began with a thought bubble emanating from the White House: "Remaking America is tougher than I thought..."

The next five frames shifted dramatically towards images of Hitler at a Nazi rally, book burnings, World War II battles, a Holocaust death camp, and a field of graves, the result of the war to end all wars. Words were juxtaposed within each frame, detailing the horrific scenery:

"The Nazis created a brutal, repressive society, left half the world in flames, and methodically murdered millions. They were the most evil force in history."

The final frame brought home the thesis of this week's comic. The narrator's caption read, "Understandably, current parallels are frightening." Below that caption, an adviser said to Obama, "The bill is stalled, sir." The president responded: "That DOES it -- I'm giving a SPEECH!"

The cartoon shows how absurd it is to compare Obama to Hitler or any other fascist elements. Hitler killed millions of people; imprisoned millions more; waged a war against the world; and had the ultimate goal of making the German race the rulers of the globe. Obama, on the other hand, wants to provide health care coverage to Americans who can't afford it.

Somebody, quick: call The Hague!

The previous president, too, unfairly received comparison of being Hitleresque and promoting a fascist state. Such comparisons were unnecessary, demeaning, and disrespectful to the office of the president. George W. Bush may have been an incompetent and immoral leader in the eyes of many, but labeling him a Nazi did little good for the discourse of this nation.

And so it's true, too, for Barack Obama.

It's disheartening to see these characterizations currently being placed upon the sitting president. Obama has done very little to deserve this treatment -- no political freedoms have been infringed upon thus far during his nine months in office. Some criticisms may be reasonable to make by conservatives, who see the president as going against everything they hold to be true. However, promoting seminars that promote getting your guns ready for revolution, and labeling Obama as a fascist/socialist/communist/dictator isn't just incorrect logically, but it's also wrong morally.

What message do we teach our children when we characterize people in this way? How do false accusations and belittling of character help us win a debate legitimately? Why are we content to scare people into accepting a position rather than utilizing the facts before us? We should be better than this. Our nation suffers when we disregard the real problems and instead invent false ones to worry over.

These characterizations need to end. When you spot someone call another politician a "fascist" or anything similar to that, call them out on that. Even if they're your political ally, their views are wrong on this and need to be corrected. This is something that needs to stop, and will help our country move forward when it does.

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