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War Is Kind: A Graphic Short Story

Everyone has war on their minds now. I'm thinking about how much I hate what Russia is doing to Ukraine--and I'm hating how racist the West's response is to the conflict. CBS News said Friday that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city, where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.” The next day the Bulgarian prime minister said his country was accepting Ukraine refugees because, "These are not the refugees we are used to...These are intelligent, educated people." NBC News said, "these are not refugees from Syria, these are refugees from Ukraine... They're Christian, they're white, they're very similar."

War brings out the worst in people and this is an example: when Afghans and Iraqis are invaded, bombed, and brutalized (by us), we shrug. We have a vast tolerance for violence inflicted on black and brown people. But when "civilized" white people in Ukraine come under fire we are aghast, it literally shakes our world. The late Swedish author Sven Lindqvist wrote in Exterminate All The Brutes that the wars and genocides that plagued Europe in the 20th century were simply the sequel to the genocidal viciousness inflicted on Africa, India, the American West, and elsewhere in the 19th century. "You already know enough," Lindqvist wrote. "So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions."

Years ago I created a comics story about the war culture I grew up in and how war--albeit indirectly--poisoned me--traumatized and hurt me in a way from which I will never fully recover. This is what it does to everyone--to society itself. When Stephen Crane first wrote, "War is Kind" he was being bitterly ironic. As WW2 veteran Edward W. Wood wrote, "making war in this modern era will always involve killing innocents and causing atrocities, always release dark, destructive, and corrupt emotions deep within ourselves...It is time for us to change."

One artist's take on war and what it does to us--a story I drew years ago, still tragically relevant.


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