Tarr's Message Was Offensive


To the Editors of The Crimson:

Tarr's February 13 cartoon, which portrays the Palestine Liberation Organization, Palestinians and Arabs as evil, infuriates those who are dedicated to the demolition of ethnic stereotypes in the Harvard community. Tarr sets up a dangerous dichotomy in his cartoon: the Palestinians are either raving, maniacal monsters or weak, flailing dim-wits, or both.

Tarr's glaring distortion and gross over-simplification of the conflicts in the Middle East and its peoples' struggles are an insult to all the people in the region who are living under the threat of war and destruction.

What is Tarr's message? In depicting the PLO as a modern Nazi equivalent, as an organization which wishes to "gas the Israelis," Tarr distorts the PLO's goals. The PLO works to secure and guarantee fundamental human rights for Palestinians, including the Palestinian right to self-determination, and is seen by the majority of the Palestinian people as their legitimate representative. It does not deny these same rights to the Israeli people.

Furthermore, in attributing the Palestinian intifada to the actions of stone-throwing PLO "maniacs," Tarr denies the true popular character of the intifada and delegitimizes the Palestinian nationalist struggle. The demand for human equality and political sovereignty is not limited to an organization. It is, rather, the demand of a nation.


Finally, Tarr undercuts the genuine desire of the Palestinians for peace and justice by portraying them as two-faced hypocrites, demanding the annihilation of Israel in one instance and negotiation toward a two-state settlement in the next.

The Palestinians, Tarr assumes, are masking violent motives with talk of justice, and only the "intelligent" West can understand their insidious intentions. In this, he promotes the Orientalist attitudes of Western people who think they know the wishes and thoughts of the Arabs better than they do themselves.

We are offended and frustrated by the systematic way in which Tarr and other journalists claim to represent the peoples of the Middle East. It is precisely Tarr's brand of false representation that precludes a deeper understanding of the problems of the region. Samia Mora '92   Dina N. Abu-Ghaida '91   Shaden M. Tageldin '92

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