Chip Bok recalls that about 75% of e-mailers criticized his March 2004 cartoon. "They accused me of exploiting a tragedy for political purposes; failure to understand that terrorism is caused by poverty, injustice, exploitation, and ignorance; promoting neo-con spin; ignorance of the fact that Iraq had absolutely no connection to terrorism whatsoever; and general bad taste," the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal/Creators Syndicate cartoonist says.
But Bok had his reasons for doing the cartoon ? and stands by them. "It seemed to me that most of the cartoons I was seeing were anti-war," he says. "It's not surprising that cartoonists would criticize the president's agenda ? that's pretty much the job description, but I think it shows a lack of imagination to see all war in the context of Vietnam. There are things worth fighting for and there are times when your enemies need to fear you, not be understood by you. I thought this was one of those times."
He adds that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, but since Bush took office, "Libya flipped, Iraq held a successful election, Egypt is making noise about more democracy, and Lebanon is demanding that Syria get out."
Michael Douglas, a Beacon Journal associate editor in charge of the newspaper's editorial page, says he expected a reaction to Bok's March 2004 drawing ? and it was "as strong as any provoked by a cartoon in the past year." But Douglas remembers being "impressed by the depth and punch of the cartoon," and adds: "I like it when Chip does cartoons that generate a lot of reaction. He should be very provocative. Chip doesn't provoke in a cheap way. He usually makes people think, and even re-examine their positions."
By: Combine 9/11 imagery and commentary about the Iraq war, and you have a cartoon that's going to draw a lot of reader response.