CSotD: Show Me The Way To Go Home

(Peter Schrank)


(Bob Gorrell – Creators)

This Juxtaposition offers a starting point for the day, because Schrank is British, which puts a somewhat different spin on the idea: The world has long criticized America for playing “Cops of the World,” though it has a spotty record for either welcoming or turning down the help.

Gorrell, by contrast, is part of a rightwing chorus accusing Biden of betrayal, not just of the Afghans seen in Schrank’s cartoon, but of American ideals, as if the war were not only in full swing when he took office seven months ago but was a rousing success.


And if you didn’t get the message from that cartoon, Gorrell doubles down with this one, in which he mocks the notion that Trump had promised withdrawal, arranged for Taliban fighters to be released from jail and then, in the days between his electoral defeat and his departure from the White House, drawn down troops to an ineffectual level that made evacuation that much more problematic for whoever took the reins.

Meanwhile, the terrorist attack at the airport has brought another element into things, as seen in our


Juxtaposition of the Day #2


(Steve Breen – Creators)


(Joe Heller)


(Steve Sack)

There is an issue of taste and intent involved in using the folded flags that symbolize the 13 American troops who were among the 170 or so killed in the terrorist bombing at the airport, and each of these cartoonists puts the symbol to a different purpose, with Sack accusing those who oppose Biden’s efforts of “waving the bloody shirt.”

Breen and Heller may simply be suggesting that those deaths are the last, which is a reasonable assessment, though perhaps more of an observation on Breen’s part than the political question Heller poses.

One of the traditional fears of soldiers as the day when they will be headed home draws near is to die within sight of safety, and it’s not a rare enough event to be dismissed as superstition.

It is sad, certainly, that Wilfred Owen, who wrote with such sad fury of the wasted lives of World War I, was killed just a week before the war ended, or that Anne Frank died of typhus scant weeks before the liberation of Bergen-Belsen.

Still, we should mourn all who died, regardless of when or how.



Andy Marlette (Creators) suggests Biden’s difficulty in justifying those final deaths to those who died before, and it can be read as pitying the futility of his having to bring more bad news to a place filled with sorrowful stories.

It is worth remembering, however, that the majority of Gulf and Afghanistan veterans support withdrawal, and that those of us who have not been where they have been should remain silent rather than try to tell the world what the dead believe.

To which I would add that you are likely surrounded by many people who, unknown to you, served in Vietnam, as well as in the Gulf and in Afghanistan. Marlette is within bounds by suggesting Biden’s plight, but you should not assume that those veterans who choose to speak up necessarily speak for those who don’t.



There is, however, a history to be faced by all — veterans, resisters and on-lookers — and Clay Jones points out the nonsensical nature of calls for Biden’s resignation over the shortcomings of our withdrawal.

Aside from whatever situation Biden inherited, he’s also not the first president to have suffered a significant intelligence failure, and, while there was an investigation to find out how we had missed indications of 9/11, nobody then turned around and laid it at Bush’s feet. In fact, as Jones points out in his essay for the cartoon, criticism of Bush disappeared when the Towers fell.


And Bush had not been held in high regard, to say the least. I remember a joke just a few weeks earlier, when Cheney went into the hospital to have stents put in this heart, in which the question was asked, if he didn’t make it, who would become President?


However, that set of interactive graphs I noted the other day, comparing Biden’s approval rating with those of former presidents, shows the public response to 9/11, plus another, lesser, leap when Bush launched our nation’s ill-fated disruption of the Middle East.

In the wake of 9/11, network anchors put flag pins on their lapels, though media critics objected, asking when, if ever, we would be able to take them off again.

It turned out to be an excellent question. Fox News was still five years in the future, but the shift to jingoism and partisanship was in motion.

As Charlie Sykes points out at the Bulwark — which I might add has not been particularly friendly to Biden over the Afghanistan withdrawal — we were still a single country back then.

We’ve now reached a point where we can no longer have intelligent conversations about anything — not just about Kabul but about Covid or voting rights or law enforcement or climate change or even sexual orientation.

Someone has to win and someone has to lose and there are no partial victories or compromises or agreements.

The only thing we can agree upon is to hate each other, and the Afghans and those 13 American kids are simply pawns in our toxic game.


Michael Ramirez (Creators) offers a more measured response to the whole thing, though I’m starting to think we left our credibility behind several years ago.

We won’t find it in Kabul.

Maybe we won’t find it at all.


2 thoughts on “CSotD: Show Me The Way To Go Home

  1. Once again I find myself with a different interpretation of a cartoon. (These are notable to me because so rare.)
    Andy Marlette’s cartoon for me brings to mind Don Jr’s nasty tweet of Biden with his head deeply bowed, calling it weakness. The comments I have mostly seen are about Biden recognizing the pain of war. About his empathy with families who have lost loved ones over 20 years, who will lose them as we leave, but who he is determined to stop creating more of in this conflict. I see it as sympathetic to Biden. I have no idea if that was the intent but that is what I take from it.

  2. Thank Mike for giving me something worth reading every day of the week. It’s so sad and so true, “The only thing we can agree on is to hate each other…” And I guess I do, not so much outright hatred, but I cannot forgive those anti-science, climate change denying, no-sympathy-for-the-poor, religious zealots around the world including in this country for poisoning the well.

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