Don’t pick a fight with a ’toon — especially a ’toon who is syndicated.

In an outbreak of cartoon (cartoonish?) anger a tad less frightening than the worldwide protests over the prophet Mohammad cartoons, the Rev. Al Sharpton recently attacked cartoonist Aaron McGruder for an episode of his animated series, Cartoon Network’s The Boondocks, in which MLK wakes up from a decades-long coma, protests the Bush administration, and utters the N-word. Over the past week, McGruder has struck back with a series of newspaper cartoons devoted to trashing Sharpton for trashing The Boondocks (see here, here, here, and here).

For another take on the flap, check out this column by USA Today’s DeWayne Wickham.

Interestingly, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius mentioned one of these recent Boondocks cartoons in a column yesterday. Ignatius compared the recent Muslim backlash to the Mohammad cartoons to African Americans’ reactions to the N-word. He held up McGruder’s cartoon as an example of how African Americans today can “deal with their anger in less self-destructive ways.” (Did Ignatius realize that the whole point of McGruder’s cartoon was to slam Sharpton for slamming him?) In turn, Workbench criticized Ignatius for his “jaw-dropping racial generalizations.”

Who ever thought that cartoons would become the most serious news of the day, worthy of endless protests, riots, arsons, and testy editorials?

Speaking of news and the funny pages, Doonesbury seems to be at the top of its game again. Since the Iraq invasion Garry Trudeau has been chronicling the tragic absurdities of the war — both abroad and on the home front — mostly through the eyes of Doonesbury character B.D., a veteran of Vietnam and both Gulf Wars, who lost his leg in Iraq and is now (sort of) seeking counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. B.D.’s helmet has finally come off; Bush’s Mad Martian-wear is still on, though looking a little worse for wear in these post-“Mission Accomplished” days.…

Victor Tan Chen

Victor Tan Chen is In The Fray‘s editor in chief and the author of Cut Loose: Jobless and Hopeless in an Unfair Economy. Site: victortanchen.com | Facebook | Twitter: @victortanchen

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