Friday, June 30, 2006

This just in: Garry Trudeau pisses someone else off!

Obviously, I realize this is the most redundant headline imaginable, as Trudeau has pissed somebody off about twice a week since Doonesbury started in 1970. This one is noteworthy - or at least amusing - because of the particular complaint. Editor & Publisher reports that the Polish American Congress is in an uproar over the innocuous May 14th strip in which a character named Justin Kaminski graduates with a degree in "Remedial Studies". I think this is a one-off or very very minor character, since I don't recognize him and he's not on the cast list. The PAC is annoyed that Kaminski is a Polish name - though as Trudeau points out, the name is carried by Ukrainians and Jews as well - and the character is remarkably stupid, thus a typical Polish stereotype.

The thing that cracks me up about this is that the late, longtime president of the PAC, Edward Moskal, was fond of throwing out anti-Semitic remarks. Case in point: in Rep. Rahm Emanuel's 2002 race for the US House, Moskal supported his opponent, Nancy Kaszak, and accused Emanuel (who is Jewish and was born in Chicago) of divided loyalties, dual citizenship with Israel, and of fighting in the Israeli army "shooting Palestinians". None of the charges were true - Emanuel is not an Israeli citizen and did not serve in the army, though he did volunteer as a civilian rust-proofing brakes - and were widely denounced by nearly everyone, including Kaszak, as anti-Semitic.

Now what the former president of the PAC said while shooting his mouth off doesn't justify any racism on Trudeau's part or in his work, though I think any sane observer wouldn't think the strip is racist. Seriously, do they really think that anyone who depicts a dumb character with a vaguely Polish name is a bigot? Would it have been better if the character had been named Jefferson or Gonzalez? Because after all, Lord knows the only ethnic group that has been stereotyped as stupid is the Poles.

Personally, I think it would have been funny if Trudeau responded to this stupid complaint with a joke about screwing in a light bulb, but I understand that it would be "poor public relations" and "horribly racist".

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