On Thursday, the New York Times posted artist Maira Kalman's "At Ease," a graphic-art meditation on the significance of Memorial Day.[1]  --  Kalman's childish attitude toward U.S. power may be heart-felt, but it also illustrates the analysis of militaristic propaganda in Norman Solomon's War Made Easy (2005).  --  Here are some of the Solomon's tenets of war propaganda, followed by Kalman's words from her account of visits to Fort Campbell and the Pentagon:  --  (1) Solomon:  "America is a fair and noble superpower"; Kalman:  "Everyone is beautiful.  Everyone makes you proud."  --  (2) Solomon:  "Our soldiers are heroes, theirs are inhuman"; Kalman:  "A woman says to me of her husband on his fourth tour in Iraq, 'I walk with a hero.'  And it is true."  --  (3) Solomon:  "They are the aggressors, not us"; Kalman:  "And we go outside the building to see the precise spot where on Sept. 11 Flight 77 rammed into the wall."  --  (4) Solomon:  "This is a necessary battle in the war on terrorism"; Kalman:  "Can there ever be peace on this planet?  No.  Absolutely not."  --  Implicitly it also endorses these other propositions:  --  (5) Solomon:  "This is not at all about oil or corporate profits"; Kalman:  "There are 24,000 people who work at the Pentagon.  They are smart and serious and represent their country with honor."  --  (6) Solomon:  "The Pentagon fights wars as humanely as possible"; Kalman:  "[O]ften the enemy has surprised the soldiers by surrounding himself with women and children."  --  The childlike naïveté of both drawing and writing style endorses the myth of American innocence, even as it cunningly signals its own awareness by portraying the elegance of "The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, who fought 14 duels, because he was a nut for honor or fighting or both."  --  Never mind that Jackson was a land speculator, slave trader and owner (with 150 slaves by the 1840s, according to the web site of The Hermitage), and perhaps the most aggressive enemy of the native Americans in early American history.  -- The responses to Kalman's piece are sobering.  --  For every person that sees its propagandistic nature, there are ten to sing its praises, sometimes with emotion (e.g. "Maira, you make my eyes fill with tears, every single time.  Simply beautiful")....



By Maira Kalman

New York Times
May 28, 2009