Using the Murdered of Flight 93 as a Comic Device

Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles today (cartoon here) mocks airline delays by playing off the September 11, 2001, deaths of the crew and passengers on United Flight 93. In Toles’ skilled hands, Todd Beamer’s call to battle — “let’s roll” — becomes a punchline.

Forty-four men and women murdered by terrorists, dying in horror and heroism because they were Americans. How amusing.

UPDATE: The Post’s ombudsman, Deborah Howell, mentioned Toles in her column last Sunday about the Style section piece on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s décolletage. Howell wrote: “Editorial cartoonist Tom Toles drives some readers nuts. But you don’t tell a cartoonist as sharp as Toles what to draw.”

Why not? What logic leads Howell to reach that conclusion? And what an abdication of responsibility. Editors should have told Toles, “Don’t draw that cartoon. It’s indecent, a cruel trivialization of great evil. You should be ashamed.”

UPDATE (Thursday, 8:45 a.m.): A family member of one of Flight 93’s murdered writes the Washington Post in protest.

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  • Darrin Smith says:

    A cartoonist as sharp as Toles? Sharp? He’s not that sharp if he is going to make fun of our heroes on a day of utmost tragedy. I would love to have a word or two with Tom Toles and let him be aware of how to use the dictionary for one. Then how to look up the word DISRESPECT. Then the word RESPECT. Then the word AMERICAN. Because when he looks up the definition AMERICAN, you will see 40 poeple’s names and they were all on United Flight 93.

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