A comment on “Doonesbury”

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on April 11th, 2006

As a member of the Catholic Worker movement, I have had 22 years’ experience sheltering the homeless, many of them veterans. I have also had experience delivering humanitarian aid and working for peace in war-torn Nicaragua, Bosnia, Israel-Palestine, Iraq, and Darfur, Sudan. I have found the Doonesbury portrayal of the Iraq war veterans’ experience especially insightful and sensitive. PSTD is something that everyone who has been in a war zone experiences. Most Americans, especially politicians with no combat experience, like President Bush, have no idea what the reality of war is for soldiers or civilians. Doonesbury has helped to sensitize people without alienating them.

Unfortunately, Sunday’s strip chooses to criticize President Bush for insensitivity toward the troops by protraying him as being kept awake by the cries of stem cells.

People make the decision to take lives in war for many reasons, but I believe they do so predominantly because the victims have been depersonalized. Human beings at early stages of their development, much like those in their last stages and those with significant disabilities, are devalued not unlike those of various races and religions were in many countries I visited.

A person can be opposed to the taking of unborn life and opposed to war. For many of us in the Catholic Worker movement, opposition to war, abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty are part of a consistent ethic of life, a comprehensive nonviolence which also entails daily work to provide the services necessary to make it easier for those who would otherwise be tempted to employ violence.

President Bush may be callous toward the casualties of war, but this is no reason to be callous toward taking the lives of unique human beings in their earliest stages. My experience in war zones has always been that people find it easy to justify their use of violence while belittling and demonizing the violence of others. This is not helpful. Please avoid it in the future.

Editor’s Note: This comment appeared on the Doonesbury letters page.

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On April 11, 2006 at 11:03 Adam (Southern California) said:

    Was this Sunday’s strip a reprint? Somehow I felt like I had read it before. Good letter there, Scott.

  2. On April 11, 2006 at 15:34 Susan said:

    This is excellent–thank you for writing this.

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