Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Civil Wars Are Neither
It’s official. Iraq is in a civil war. Despite Tony Snow’s objections, civil wars can happen without one side looking like a group of Gettysburg re-enactors. Civil wars happen whenever two or more sides openly conflict for control. Nieman Watch lists six different criteria for a civil war and fifty conflicts over the last sixty years that meet the test. The Los Angeles Times, NBC, and the New York Times have all started using the phrase ‘civil war’ to describe the conflict and unrest in Iraq, but Doonesbury made the call 18 months in advance.
As always, Garry Trudeau was ahead of the curve. This comic appeared February 20, 2004 and immediately struck me as prescient. I’ve been waiting for the rest of the mainstream media to catch up. Trudeau is one of the favorite whipping boys of those who see a liberal bias on the funny pages. When the strip started, B.D. was the dim-witted right-wing strawman.
Trudeau is reliably lefty, but he is also poignantly sympathetic to our armed services, particularly those that have been injured in service to our country. If you have not read Gene Weingarten’s hagiography of Trudeau when it ran in the Washington Post Magazine, you owe it to yourself to learn how dedicated Trudeau has been in bringing verisimilitude to his portrayal of amputee vet B.D.
Thanks to the miracle of comics time dilation, B.D. has fought in three wars, coached college football, married a ditzy starlet, and now struggles with PTSD. He has become one of the most subtly layered characters to ever appear in graphic form. Garry Trudeau has proven that if he can mock our ill-advised adventurism while still supporting our uniformed heroes, anyone can.