The first piece of media that I start my day with every morning is Hajjaj's cartoon on the back page of Al Ghad newspaper. 'Abu Mahjoob' and his entourage of other Jordanian characters play out their lives within the cartoon's frame in little sketches that hit the nail of our social reality right on in its head. No doubt, Hajjaj has his finger on the pulse of Jordanian life. His wit, intelligence, attention to the little/big details and his twisted creative mind have delivered the best mainstream social commentary in Jordan over the past decade.
But then there's the occasional Hajjaj cartoon on regional politics. Like the one this Thursday which made me cringe! "Saddam's Trial," reads the headline. A giant, wickedly smiling American soldier holds a huge banner overshadowing a dwarfed Iraqi judge who's sitting behind a court podium. The banner reads "The Humiliation of the Arabs" in huge letters. The small writing on the court podium says "Justice of the Iraqi People".
In one graphic stroke Hajjaj tells his readers what the "whole thing" is about: America is out to "Humiliate" the Arabs.. How? Presumably by holding a show trial (with puppet/dwarf judges) for a 'Saddam the symbol'. But wait a minute. Just a few days back, another Hajjaj cartoon depicted a formation of decorated generals marching in step with guns pointed to their heads, The implied message: the Syrian regime's suicidal march (as symbolized through the recent Kanaan suicide).
So Hajjaj does not seem to be a fan of Arab dictators. Why then is the trial of one of the biggest dictators of Arab history depicted so bluntly and crudely as 'America is humiliating the Arabs'.
Where is the disconnect between the social Hajjaj and the Political Hajjaj? There is one Hajjaj who realizes that the 'Arab's Humiliation' is something that emanates from within on a daily basis (the small dictators at home, the street and the office). Then there is the other Hajjaj, who allows himself to tell the masses that the trial of a dictator who inflicted utter humiliation, death, despair and misery upon millions of Arabs, is an act of foreign humiliation of the Arab nation.Maybe what Hajjaj means to say is that the fact this trial is being held under the shadow of the American occupation is humiliating (would he have drawn a different cartoon had a Iraqi revolution overthrown Saddam?).
Even if the reference is to the humiliation of the occupation, then Hajjaj should have at least respected the millions of Arab victims of Saddam.
This reminds us of the Abu Ghraib scandal. There was a global outrage at what the American perpetrated in that prison. And rightly so. But who knows what goes on in Arab prisons. Who cares. As long as the torturer is 'one of us' it's OK. Self humiliation: just look the other way (or find excuses). Foreign humiliation (real or perceived): raise hell!
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