Paul Krugman remembers the “strong current of fear” ten years ago when the U.S. invaded Iraq:
It’s hard now to recall the atmosphere of the time, but there was both an overpowering force of conventional wisdom — all the Very Serious People were for war, don’t you know, and if you were against you were by definition flaky — and a strong current of fear. To come out against the war, let alone to suggest that the Bush administration was deliberately misleading the nation into war, looked all too likely to be a career-ending stance. And there were all too few profiles in courage.
Even though most Americans – and the media – supported the war, I took a strong stance against it long before March 2003 and throughout the early years. Here is my cartoon from day one of the war. As you may remember, it caused outrage:
As Krugman describes, I (and other critics) paid a high price for my opposition not only of the Iraq War, but of the Afghanistan War, which was even more popular – broadly supported by Democrats as well. Opposing Bush was career suicide, but what was the choice? Pulling your punches – like so many of my peers did – meant I wouldn’t be doing the work that mattered anyway. Better to get fired for your opinions than to censor yourself.
The New York Times, where I had been the #1 most reprinted cartoonist during the 1990s, stopped running me.
The Washington Post canceled me.
MSNBC.com canceled me.
Men’s Health, which ran my “Testosterone Diaries” comic strip – which had nothing to do with politics – canceled me.
My income plunged. It’s been a hard ten years. As I write this, I have a stack of bills I have no idea how I’m going to pay.
Even though things are starting to turn around, I am nowhere close to the sound financial footing I had before neo-McCarthyism came to America.
In a week or so I am going to roll out my first-ever Ted Rall Fundraiser for people who can and want to support my work. That’s the new model – if you want good political cartoonists to survive, individuals have to support them. In the meantime, of course, please consider donating. (Everyone who donates now gets the same gimmes as those who donate during the official Fundraiser.)