In the fall of 1982, an event
took place on the other side of the planet that would result in the
greatest amount of ruckus made by the Klyde Morris cartoon. In the
Middle East region of the world a group of radical Christians took
it upon themselves to slaughter Palestinians in a refugee camp. Later,
the AVION editor, a French national by the name of Julian Oleon took
it upon himself to write an editorial piece in the student newspaper
that was sympathetic to the Christians. I never read the editorial
because, like everything that Editor Oleon wrote, it was fairly long-winded
and highly boring. The Palestinian students on the Embry-Riddle campus,
however, DID read the piece and were sent into a well deserved outrage.
Suddenly, Mr. Oleon was receiving death threats and lots of other
Who can blame these foreign
students from Palestine, their people have been the targets of such
outrages for endless years, and so they were rightfully set off. Where
they come from, when someone publishes something that outrages you,
the way that they are often dealt with is by of some sort of retaliation.
However, the Palistinenan students, in their rightful rage, neglected
the fact that they were now residing in the United States where our
ways of dealing with such things is a bit different.
Seeing all of this banter, commotion
and outright threats was just too much for a good editorial cartoonist
to resist. Thus in the October 6th edition of the Avion, I ran two
of the three strips showing Oleon being pursued by campus killers
because of his editorial. Expectedly, this raised the level of rage.
Unexpectedly, it turned almost every Palistinenan student toward me!
One advantage that the cartoonist has is that almost no one knows
your face, and in classes, the role was always called using my proper
first name, “Walter” rather than my preferred middle name “Wes”, and
the teachers always murdered the last name so badly that I almost
always sat in class in complete anonymity. Thus I was a difficult
target to zero in upon. Still, for the days following the strip’s
publication, I was under threat. Outraged Palestinian students would
storm into the Avion office demanding to speak to that cartoonist
guy, and getting the standard line from the staff, “We hardly ever
see the guy, he just stops in and drops off the next week’s strip...”
Of course I would be sitting right there quietly watching the now
really outraged foreign student spit additional venom. They were now
not only going to kill Oleon, but were going to find my house and
drag me into the street, they were going to catch me on campus and
beat me, they were even going to blow up my car!
“He makes us look like terrorists!
We are not terrorists! Just wait ‘till he tries to go to his car tonight!”
Was the exclaimation of one such outraged Palestinian student.
Bombing my car would have been
a neat task, seeing that I did not have a car and actually rode a
bicycle to school every day... I suppose that had they known that,
they would have bike-bombed me. Under such pressure, I did exactly
what I am best known for... I wrote another series of three strips
and this time all three were dedicated to making their heads explode.
Taking off on the famed terror
group, the P.L.O., I concocted the P.F.L.O. or “Palestinians For Liquidating
Oleon”. Then I had them raising money for their holy cause by having
a bake sale. That series appeared on October 13th, 1982, and reaction
was HIGHLY predictable. This time the group of Palestinian students
went to the Student Government Association or “S.G.A”., who held the
budget for the newspaper, and demanded that all Avion publication
be stopped. Like any organization which has the word “Government”
in its title, the S.G.A. was spring-loaded to tread upon the liberty
of the masses in answer to the vocalizations of any minority group,
and indeed threatened to pull the Avion’s funding unless I was stopped.
The Avion staff responded by telling the S.G.A. that we had enough
ad revenue to publish without S.G.A. funding and then pointed out
that the S.G.A. itself would actually lose revenue without the paper.
But, like good politicians, the S.G.A. idiots were not so easily put
off and demanded a meeting with the Avion staff to discuss and settle
Before the meeting took place,
I sat down with a fellow Avion staff member by the name of Ali, who
is a Palestinian-born New Jersey resident, and asked him about the
recent cartoons. He said they were “...funny as hell...” and advised
me to “...keep ‘em coming...” Shortly thereafter the meeting of the
Avion staff and the S.G.A. as well as a representative of the Palestinian
students took place as Ali and I sat quietly and listened. S.G.A.
demanded that all Avion material be read and approved by them prior
to publication- this went over like the Stalinest demand that it was,
with Holly Vath- an Avion staff member and future editor nearly taking
to physical violence. Next there was the token black S.G.A. member
chosen to stand up and call me a “racist”, which I saw as a form of
racism in itself, and lastly the Palestinian representative got to
spout of as to how “All” of the Palestinian students on campus [25
in number] were offended by my cartoons. At that point Ali spoke up
and the following dialogue took place...
“I’m Palestinian, and I’m not
offended at all...”
“You are not Palestinian! Where
are you from?”
“I’m from New Jersey, but I
was born in Palestine.”
“You are not Palestinian...
you do not come to the meetings!”
It was at this point that the
cartoonist felt the need to speak and, of course make matters worse...
“Will the real Palestinian please
stand up?” I said.
It was much like throwing a
bucket of aviation gas into a campfire.
In the week that followed that
series of cartoons and that meeting, I had the P.F.L.O. in the library
thumbing through “Janes All The World’s Terrorism”, but that one was
too much for even Editor Oleon, and he pulled it to show the Palestinians
that he would actually edit the outrageous stuff and that is how the
system works in this country. The S.G.A. faded away, because they
did not have a financial lever to use, and the Palestinian students,
with the exception of Ali, never did quite manage to figure out who
that cartoonist guy was. To this day, however, I always check my bicycle
And Here is