Once a Marine...

Once a Marine...
Every year or so, I get together with my Marine Officer buddies. We're not as lean, not as mean, but we're still Marines. That's me, with the long hair.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nothing Comic About It

On August 30, the worldwide news media and Internet blogosphere exploded with breathless commentary about the publication of a coloring book describing the historicity of the 9/11 attacks. The pundits and spokespeople decried the comic book as disgusting, hateful, and disturbing. The publisher responded by explaining it was a tool for parents to teach their children about the underlying facts of that awful September morning.

Now why, I wondered, would a parent need a teaching tool for 9/11? Then it hit me—maybe because outside the home their children are hearing that a fact-based comic book is disgusting, hateful and disturbing, instead of being told that Muslim Jihadists are disgusting, hateful and disturbing.

I searched out the offensive comic book, assuming it would have pictures depicting, oh, I don’t know—Muslims dancing in the streets at the news the Towers had fallen. Maybe a picture of Daniel Pearl screaming in agony as members of Al-Qaeda sawed off his head while chanting “God is great!” And at least one picture of the president of Iran at the podium, proclaiming Israel should be “wipe off the map.” Sure, all these events are real. And really happened. And are parts of American history. But, but, but—talking about them isn’t sensitive, because it might “offend” the American Muslim community.

Here’s what I found inside that the hateful publication: An illustration of a news anchor reporting that Osama Bib Laden had been identified as the mastermind behind the attack; an illustration of someone crying from grief; George W. Bush addressing the nation; Osama Bin Laden cowering behind one of his wives as a Navy SEAL arranges for his expedited delivery to paradise; and finally, a picture of the Founding Fathers. Aside from the hateful pictures, the words—the dreadful words—that seem to have taken the coloring books over the edge into hate-speech is the description that the men who participated in the 9/11 slaughter were “freedom-hating, radical, Islamic Muslim extremists.”

And the problem is?

Okay, yes… the writing is childish. But the target market is parents wanting a way to explain mass murder to their—wait for it—children. Why does the writer use both of the words “Islamic” and “Muslim”? I don’t know—but I’ll bet you a $1,000 it has something to do with the fact that the average American child doesn’t understand that a “Muslim” is someone who practices a religion called “Islam.” That said, it’s probably best to use obvious, declarative terms when communicating with children. I mean, you’re probably not going to get a lot of Santa-mileage if you tell Johnny that Santa “exercises fiscal restrain when encountering morally ambiguous kids.”

The claims against the comic book also allege Islamophobia, which one would decipher to mean “a fear of Muslims.” Man, we love our phobias these days, don’t we? I don’t have Islamophobia, but here’s one I do have: Strapped-into-a-jet-going-600-miles-an-hour-with-a-suicidal-terrorist-in-the-pilot’s-seat-phobia. I hear we have lots of warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan who are bothered by a mild case of trying-to-keep-peace-and-help-build-a-functional-and-free-government-when-a-suicide-bomber-denotes-near-me-phobia. And, apparently, there are several thousand kids with growing-up-without-a-parent-beacause-of-9/11-phobia.

Our fear of “inspiring fear” within the American population is ponderous. Consider this: There are thousands of children who’ve actually lost a parent in the War on Terror who’ve never seen the video footage of the 9/11 attacks. Let me ask you: When was the last time you saw it? Unless you’ve tracked it down on the Internet, you haven’t seen it in 9 ½ years. Why? Because the media/government complex—even Fox News—decided that the footage was too “incendiary” for us to see anymore. It might result in a backlash against the American Muslim community. Aaaaand, poof! It was gone. Although the tenth anniversary of 9/11 will have passed by the time you read this, I’m betting in advance there won’t be a lot of telecasts showing the raw horror of the slaughter, followed by the sublime bravery of young men and women who joined the military to fight for freedom. I’m betting there will be lots of mourning, and remembrances, and video essays on the mistakes we’ve made, and exposes on the foolishness of invading Iraq. What I doubt we’ll see is anything as starkly truthful as the coloring book in question: Muslim extremists did this, so we did this.

Should we include the story of the collateral damage caused by our war on terrorism? Sure, why not. Self-flagellation has become an American pastime, and if feeling bad about America makes you feel good, have at it. Just remember: We didn’t draw first blood in this war.

In closing this missive, I think it fitting to end with a commentary about the illustration drawing the most outrage: The one of Osama Bin Laden getting shot. Why? Because I’ve been asked by dozens of friends, “Do you think killing Bin Laden has made America a safer place?”

I had to ponder that a while, and here’s the answer I believe is true: No, killing Bin Laden didn’t make America safer. But you know what it has done? It’s gotten terrorists and dictators and warlords all over the world sleeping with one eye open. Why? Because it showed that if you murder innocent civilians in our nation, we will track you down and shoot you dead. Even if it takes 10 years. Even if the sitting President is a left-leaning Democrat who opposes war. You can run, but you cannot hide.

That’s a fact so simple, even a child could grasp it. Maybe we should send copies of the comic to the terrorist leaders.

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