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February 18, 2006

Leunig Controversy

Michael Leunig has never been far from controversy since the war on Iraq began. His heartache over the whole affair has been evident through many cartoons. But this controversy reached another level when a four-year-old cartoon, rejected by The Age at the time, appeared in an Iranian competition related to the Holocaust. Leunig's position is that the cartoon is anti-war, not anti-semitic. Age editor of the time, himself jewish, did not see it that way. Here is the offending cartoon (thanks to revhead).

leunig-auschwitz.jpg

The cartoon was submitted to the competition as a hoax, the offender explaining himself immediately the controversy erupted. Leunig initially suspected sinister motives, later reflecting on the whole affair. Age editor Michael Gawenda plays the racism card in his analysis of the affair.

What to make of it all? Leunig is something of a Melbourne institution, and many of his cartoons carry a strong prophetic edge, inasmuch as he is prepared to expose, critique and challenge popular culture.

The problem with this cartoon, as with those of Mohammad published by the Danish newspaper, is that many people look at them objectively, which takes the passion - and the life reality - out of it. When one names a demon, expect a reaction.

Posted by gary at February 18, 2006 12:02 PM

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