Comic eduganda

Date: Sun Oct 14 2001 - 12:37:05 MDT

At various points I've read suggestions on this list that to distribute free
or low-cost eBooks, rich with mind-expanding educational material, would do
much to counter the sort of worldview responsible for violent Muslim
fundamentalism. See, eg, the sort of reader described in The Diamond Age.
But, alas, technology has yet to deliver the requisite goods. Hence the
present low tech suggestion: Educate via comics.

I do not jest. The U.S. has been trying to educate/propagandize the Afgan
people via airdrops of transistor radios and rather ineffective (because
delivered via airplanes) broadcasts. Paper materials would work much more
effectively, since they are more permanent and cheap to distribute. But text
won't suffice, given the wide range of dialects and horrible levels of
illiteracy among those subject to Taliban tyranny. Comics thus offer a nice,
and perhaps the only viable, alternative.

A good illustrator can convey fairly complex ideas (such as the earnest good
wishes of those launching cruise missles at Afgan territory and questionable
nature of the theology behind the attacks of 9/11) and give them satisfying
emotional punch. The delivery channel is relatively cheap and data
rich--colored ink on paper--and will be consumed and passed around if only
because it offers, in this case, a pleasantly novel alternative to staring at
the dirt. Distributing comics offers a complication in that the Taliban
forbids images of humans, but I daresay that might work in favor of the
edugandists. Certainly, at any rate, the Taliban cannot hope to marshall as
good or as many artists on their side.

There are plenty of illustrators who are or should be appalled at the
anti-culture stance of the Taliban, not to mention its other grevious crimes
against humanity (especially the female half of it). It remains only to
marshall that artistic sentiment and convince those doing airdrops to add
comics to the bombs and food already raining down on Afgan soil.

T.0. Morrow

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