Seattle Readers Criticize Cartoon on U.S. Military’s Torture

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By: E&P Staff

Many readers complained about a Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoon about U.S. military torture of Muslim prisoners, according to a Sunday article by P-I Editorial Page Editor Mark Trahant.

The May 24 cartoon, by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey of the P-I and Tribune Media Services, showed a “U.S. Military Intelligence Interrogation Unit” officer on the phone saying: “Those Newsweek bastards are giving America a bad image!” In the background, a tortured prisoner is being dragged away as the torturer says to the officer: “Yo! Corporal! Another one of them dang Muslim rag heads up an’ died on us!”

One person writing the P-I was a retired Air Force major, who said: “I served over 21 years to make the world safe for you to spread your hate poison. It was worth it. Each day we get another example of why journalists are rated as one of the least respected professions.”

Another person wrote that it’s hard “to reply in a measured, polite way. I suppose it’s easy for him [Horsey] to create such a drawing and then sit back and let all of us so-called brain-dead, red-state Americans slobber our outrage at him. I imagine he must joyfully see himself as quite the ‘Agent Provocateur.’ (No? It pains him greatly to be forced to speak such uncomfortable ‘truths?’ But, of course!) What courage for him. The truth-seer speaking truth to power, come-what-may.”

Others upset by the cartoon said only some, not all, U.S. military people are guilty of abuse. Others said questioning of U.S. military misdeeds is treasonous.

Horsey responded: “I am not making this stuff up. The mainstream press is not making this stuff up. It is real and is of great concern to our military. I should think it would be of concern to anyone who cares about the image of America in the world. It is unfathomable to me that folks who claim to believe in American values get upset about a poorly sourced item in Newsweek or a cartoon that is almost a literal interpretation of the facts, yet seem to be unconcerned about torture being perpetrated in their name.”

The cartoonist added that “a true patriot is one who loves his country enough to call to account those who shame the flag by despicable actions that in no way reflect the guiding principles of this republic. This is not a liberal idea, a radical idea, or a treasonous idea. It is, in fact, a rather traditional, all-American idea. Making excuses for torture is common practice in banana republics and authoritarian regimes, but it is alien and antithetical to our constitutional democracy.”

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