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Email Miz Beaver

“WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US.”

From time to time I receive letters challenging my explanation of the origins of the most famous quote from Pogo and certainly one of the most famous comic strip quotes of all time.  I consulted with several Pogo “experts” before I wrote this explanation. In spite of this, I have still been told, several times, that I was “wrong” or “in error”.  I was even told that my web site was “very nice except for your mistake about the Pogo quote”.  I searched everything I could find and found the ultimate authority.  Walt Kelly hizself!  I don’t know about you, but I will accept his version of the story ahead of what Great-aunt Myrtle remembers from when she was a girl.

The Source: The Best of Pogo, Edited by Mrs. Walt Kelly and Bill Crouch Jr. A Fireside Book, published by Simon & Schuster, Copyright 1982 by Walt Kelly Estate

The Chapter: ZEROING IN ON THOSE POLLUTERS: WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US, By Walt Kelly, Page 224.  Beginning with the sixth paragraph:

“In the time of Joseph McCarthyism, celebrated in the Pogo strip by a character named Simple J. Malarkey, I attempted to explain each individual is wholly involved in the democratic process, work at it or no.  The results of the  process fall on the head of the public and he who is recalcitrant or procrastinates in raising his voice can blame no one but himself.  An introduction to Pogo Papers, published by Simon and Schuster in 1952-53, said in part:

‘...Specializations and markings of individuals everywhere abound in such profusion that major idiosyncrasies can be properly ascribed to the mass.  Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend.  So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly.  It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of the cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.’

‘There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand.  Resolve, then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tiny blasts of tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.’

As years passed, the final paragraph was reduced to “We have met the enemy and he is us,” in a few strips having to do with pollution.  The nine words form the title and theme of a Pogo motion picture currently in work, believing as I do that we are all of us responsible for our myriad pollutions, public, private and political.”

 

Anyone want to argue any more? Don't email me.

All Walt Kelly art used on these pages is ©O.G.P.I. - other material ©2000-2008 by Marilyn White