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It's Surreal Thing

When comic strips have to do the press' job

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As conflicts go, The War Against Terror grows more surreal all the time. Last week progressed in an especially Dali-esque manner, beginning Monday with two comic strips taking on the very uncomical topic of American soldiers getting wounded in Iraq and their subsequent treatment -- something the US press have generally failed to pay attention to.

In Get Fuzzy, Rob Wilco's cousin Will returns home missing a leg, virtually smuggled in by the Pentagon under a 2am shroud of secrecy. In a more dramatic fashion, one of Doonesbury's central (and very gung-ho) characters, B.D., also loses a leg in combat. Many newspapers refused to run the Friday strip when B.D. reacts to his missing leg by shouting, "Son of a bitch!" The Charlotte Observer ran the Friday strip complete and unedited. Talk about surreal (and commendable). Both strips continue exploring the topic.

On Wednesday, the website TheMemoryhole.org (mirrored at http://militarycoffins.bootnetworks.com) obtained, through the Freedom of Information Act, several hundred previously banned photos of American flag-draped coffins returning home. By Thursday, Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based contractor for Maytag Aircraft, was fired for taking some of the pictures, which were legally (though apparently inadvertently) released by the Air Force. Too bad they can't find Osama that fast. The pictures were widely printed and broadcast, which the Pentagon promptly decried as disrespectful to grieving families and "encouraging to terrorists." This is, of course, a big steaming crock of Bushit.

Friday, we found out that former NFL star Pat Tillman was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Tillman had turned down a $3.6 million NFL contract to join the Army. So, in the final bit of surrealistic irony, Doonesbury's fictional football hero B.D. and real life hero Tillman managed to put a public face on over 700 American military casualties, Pentagon bans notwithstanding.

So what's next? Well, a leaked memo from a high-ranking US official inside Iraq last Wednesday detailed his contrarian opinion that not only are things not going so good in Iraq, things are not likely to go so good any time soon, if ever. Perhaps by next week, the Wizard of Id will expose the Emperor's new flak jacket.

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