Picking up the pieces made easy

By Chris Morrison

Have you ever seen the cartoon “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips?”

I doubt you have, as it has been banned. It’s a World War II era short featuring Bugs, in his pre-Chuck Jones drawn days, matching wits with a not too bright Japanese soldier. The soldier looks like any other mid-20th century American stereotype of an Asian–thick glasses, slanted eyes and buck teeth. It’s not a particularly good cartoon, not because of the stereotypical depiction of the Japanese soldier, but because it predated Bugs’ Groucho Marx persona.

You see, propaganda cartoons were common in the forties. Mickey Mouse fought Hitler, maybe even Mussolini. But we won’t be getting any propaganda cartoons for the present war. I highly doubt I’ll turn on my cartoons this Saturday morning and see some olive skinned, turbaned man with a wild look in his eyes, whirling like a dervish and terrorizing the kids on Recess.

This new war is slightly different from all other ones, and its more than simply a lack of government sponsored animation. Aside from the media’s equating Osama bin Laden with the devil, there has been no overt demonizing of the enemy like there was in past wars. No snappy nicknames for the Afghans or the Taliban.

In the First World War, the German army was nicknamed the “Huns” by the British due to their brutality. They were no more brutal than those they fought, but because they lost the decision (knocked out in the 11th after having the fight well in hand through the first six rounds) they were the bad guys.

Instead, there has been a concerted effort by the media and politicians to show that Islam is not evil, V.S. Naipaul’s essays notwithstanding. I sometimes think I’m the only person in the world to have not visited a mosque since September 11 in a show of solidarity with the Islamic community.

This is good. When we demonize our opponents, it is harder to end the war once the fighting has stopped.

Labeling the Germans “Huns” led many people in the interwar years to see them as evil. This aided in isolating Germany and aided Hitler in seizing power. Alright, I’m playing hard and fast with historical facts but I’m trying to make a point as quick as possible. It wasn’t until after the second war with the Germans two generations later that we in the Anglo nations stopped using the epithet “Hun.” We’ve now switched back to “Kraut,” an ethnic slur yes, but not a demonization.

If the media, acting responsibly on this count but not on much else in Dubya’s current war on terror, decided to label all Afghans or Arabs or Muslims as terrorists, they would be doing us all a disservice. This war has to end. And when it does, the postwar work will have to begin. That work will be a lot easier if we don’t have the misguided belief that our former adversary was in league with Lucifer.

Feedback on this article can be sent to opinions@gauntlet.ucalgary.ca

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