Like everyone else in the rest of the world, I’ve been following the momentous events occurring in Egypt. But reading all the articles, editorials, analyses, and blog posts is a lot of work. Fortunately, there are editorial cartoons, an ancient medium dedicated to providing news to the illiterate and the very lazy.

Editorial cartoons lack the space for any nuanced commentary, so instead they impart a simple message that elicits an immediate emotional response from the reader. Of course, that response can vary depending upon the biases and assumptions of both the artist and the audience. After reviewing all the cartoons I could find addressing the Egyptian protests [primarily from the United States], I noticed that most of them were designed to elicit one of four reactions: joy, fear, ambivalence, or self-criticism.

Joy

Simply put, the overthrow of a dictator is a time for joy.

By Arend van Dam

The people literally become hands that drag down the flail of oppression. Though its not the best idea to bring down the flail on top of yourself.

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By Daryl Cagle.

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By Gado

Several artists note that the Tunisian Revolution inspired the Egyptian protests, and the unrest could potentially spread to the rest of the Middle East. In the above panel the movement that began in Tunisia is going to wash away all the dictatorships of North Africa (the one on the left is Mauritania).

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By John Sherffius

Editorial cartoonists must love countries with recognizable monuments. Here, John Sherffius merges the iconography of Egypt and America, the implication being that Egypt is becoming a nation of liberty.

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By Steve Benson

Mubarak as a corpse in a sarcophagus. The symbolism presumably being that Mubarak is now buried with Egypt’s past. Or is the unstoppable Mubarak Mummy rising from the grave to reek havoc on the living?

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By Tony Auth

There was bound to be at least one “Walk Like an Egyptian” cartoon somewhere. No wonder Nadim Damluji was complaining about the “popular trope of  Pharaonic culture being used as shorthand for all of Egyptian culture.”

But there are artists who acknowledge that Egypt is now an Islamic country. And those artists are afraid.

Fear

The overthrow of a dictator is a time for joy … unless that dictator is “your man.” It’s no secret that the United States supported Hosni Mubarak for decades, seeing him as the preferable alternative to Nasserism or radical Islam. If Mubarak goes, what will take his place?

By Scott Stantis

Stantis makes the point as plainly as possible. 2011 Egypt = 1979 Iran. If one was so inclined, you could also point out that anti-Americanism is a predictable consequence of propping up brutal dictators, such Mubarak or the former Shah. But it’s far easier just to fret about radical Islam.

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By Monte Wolverton

Like all editorial cartoonists, Wolverton labels everything just in case his readers are too stupid to get the subtlety of a giant mullah arising from below a pyramid.

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By Clay Jones

Irony! There is a valid concern that democracy will be used for tyrannical ends, though it’s telling that so many American cartoonists assume that Egypt will become another Iran. .


By Bob Gorrell

The world outside America is a scary place, filled with devils and whatnot. Bob Gorrell’s response is to side with the devils that wear ties.

Ambivalence

On the one hand, you want to celebrate freedom, but on the other hand, you’re afraid of Middle East instability. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

By Lisa Benson

Given that he’s a Kenyan-Socialist, Obama will likely sit on the left.

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By Tom Toles

There were countless Mubarak-as-Sphinx cartoons.

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By Signe Wilkinson

This is why you shouldn’t accept friend requests from dictators in the first place. Also, I kinda hate Facebook analogies.

Self-Criticism

A few cartoonists have a noted the absurdity of promoting democracy while also supporting the strongmen that crush it.

By Jimmy Margulies

A sharp criticism of U.S. policy, though Mubarak probably doesn’t consider himself a U.S. puppet.

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By Jim Moran

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By Nate Beeler

These two cartoons make similar points, but Beeler can’t resist the temptation to use Pharoanic imagery.

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By Pat Oliphant

Oliphant criticizes President Obama’s relatively muted response to the events in Egypt. The obvious counterargument is that Obama is just being prudent, given that Mubarak might still hold on to power and American diplomats would have to continue dealing with his regime.

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Most of these cartoons can be viewed at Slate Magazine or Go Comics.

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