Tom Toles Uses Cartoon to Strike Back at Joint Chiefs of Staff

By: Dave Astor

Tom Toles used his Thursday editorial cartoon to give the Joint Chiefs of Staff — which had criticized him last year — a taste of its own medicine.

Yesterday’s Washington Post cartoon pictured a letter from Toles to Joint Chiefs chairman Peter Pace, who recently made the bigoted comment that homosexuality is “immoral.” The cartoon letter read: “I was extremely disappointed to hear you question the morality of some of the men and women who serve this country in uniform, many of whom have suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds. I find it beyond tasteless.

“These are brave men and women with a sense of purpose and self-commitment from the cities and farmlands of this great nation. I believe you have done a dissservice to your institution and your reputation by using such a callous description of those who have volunteered to defend this nation.”

The letter was signed, “Your pen pal, Tom Toles.”

In early 2006, the Joint Chiefs had sent a letter to Toles saying it was “tasteless” of him to show a badly injured soldier (a quadruple amputee) in his Jan. 29 cartoon of that year.

Toles and others responded that the Post cartoon was not making fun of the soldier, but rather commenting on the state of the Army and the carnage caused by the Iraq War — meaning they felt the Joint Chiefs were actually more angry with the cartoon’s message than with the drawing of the soldier.

“Toles struck back,” Mike Rhode, who does the ComicsDC blog, said of yesterday’s cartoon.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Toles is syndicated by Universal Press.

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