Earlier this month, the leftist L.A. Weekly ran a story on black cartoonist Aaron McGruder's syndicated comic strip, "The Boondocks," that detailed the strip's skepticism toward America's war on terrorism. That's how a leftist weekly would see it, anyhow, but it's far more than that. It's a hateful screed against America and its president.
"The Boondocks" might seem an unlikely polemic, given that its main character, a black 9-year-old named Huey Freeman, is nowhere close to being old enough to vote or even drive. But the militant Huey is not a typical child, either. The typical child, after all, doesn't hold up an "Al Sharpton for President!!" sign, as Huey did in a strip this past autumn.
Many of McGruder's war-themed strips have been satirical (e.g., the FBI investigates the possibility that the psychic Ms. Cleo had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks; apropos of the titles television networks have given their war coverage, Huey suggests "America Stops and Thinks About Why Some People Hate Us").
Other strips, however, have been quite literal and ought to be assessed in the same manner as one would assess an opinion column, since this is the intent of Mr. McGruder. To read his statements is to see what a radical he is.
One strip consisted of a letter to Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to oppose the resolution authorizing military force against terrorists and their allies, commending Lee for her "courage in (her) lone stance against Bush's warmongering." Only an America-hater would view the desire to seek justice against the slaughterers of thousands of your countrymen as "warmongering."
Then there was the Thanksgiving Day installment, in which Huey, at the dinner table, says his own special version of grace: "In this time of war against Osama bin Laden and the oppressive Taliban regime, we are thankful that
our leader isn't the spoiled son of a powerful politician from a wealthy oil family who is supported by religious fundamentalists, operates through clandestine organizations, has no respect for the democratic electoral process, bombs innocents, and uses war to deny people their civil liberties. Amen."
Whoa. Let's take that broadside apart, phrase by phrase.
"The spoiled son of a powerful politician ... " After 9/11, not even hardened liberals subscribe to this tired mantra. Most have been extraordinarily impressed by the gravitas of this man. Most, that is, save for the fringe.
" ... from a wealthy oil family ..." Ah, class warfare. Where would we be without it? (And shouldn't Bush be praised since he was a bust in the oil business?)
" ... supported by religious fundamentalists ... " (ITAL) The American-religious-right-as-equivalent-of-the-Taliban argument has arrived in the comic pages.
" ... operates through clandestine organizations ... " (ITAL) If McGruder means intelligence services, well, so has every president since the launch of the republic. Or maybe he's alluding to Skull and Bones?
" ... has no respect for the democratic electoral process ... " Yet another person who just can't get over Florida.
" ... bombs innocents ... " So there's no difference between the deliberate murder of civilians and the unavoidable death of civilians during a military action -- just like bin Laden's been saying.
" ... and uses war to deny people their civil liberties." Ramsey Clark, call your office.
Before you dismiss "The Boondocks" as obscure -- don't. It's in 250 newspapers with a combined circulation of 30 million. Even if only 10 percent of those subscribers read the strip, it still would have a far larger audience than, say, "The O'Reilly Factor."
The motivation for McGruder's stand on the war may be found in something he told the Weekly's David Ulin: "I was talking with a friend of mine just last night, and he put it very succinctly. He said, 'We're born into this world with an inheritance. We come in carrying part of what went on before us, and black people inherit a war. We inherit a struggle.' ... That's what I'm doing. I'm conscious and aware of an ongoing struggle, and I'm making a definitive choice to be on one side."
Let's be clear: That "one side" is anti-America, no matter who's leading the attack on America, and no matter how many Americans -- black Americans -- he's killed.