For decades, it has been considered improper in polite society to say
that Moammar Gadhafi was crazy.
In one Wikileaks memo, an American diplomat described Libya’s leader as…
There were, of course, hundreds of newspaper cartoons the world over. But generally, the public fiction among grownups in the West was to assert the leader of the nation that controlled the largest oil reserves in Africa was, well, a little eccentric.
But now Libyans are saying that the emperor has no clothes.
(Kind of harsh verdict on a guy who loved to play dress up.)
Sitting in the back of a taxi in Tripoli, I pass kilometer upon
kilometer of anti-Gadhafi graffiti. Since I don’t read Arabic and Khaled Ben
Yala, the VOA translator, can’t keep up with volume, it ends up
rolling by as a red, black, green and blue blur.
But caricatures jump across language barriers.
There is only one man caricatured.
It the man who called himself “Brother Leader.”
Crazy eyes are hard to render in spray paint. Tripoli’s graffiti
artists have a hard time with wild eyes, often settling for crossed
To portray Libya’s wigged out leader, the key is the frizz under the fez — the hairdo.
Painted on garbage cans, or flying across a wall after getting a kick
in the seat of the pants is the man with the black curls. Gadhafi
appears peering sadly out of toilet bowel, or scampering like a
hirsute rat down to a ‘safe’ tunnel.
From “King of Kings,” Gadhafi is now a North African version of Larry,
the curly haired member of The Three Stooges, a long running, low-brow
American comedy act.
On family night, a girl-led sound truck rolled through the streets Tripoli.
Drawing grins from battled-hardened rebels, they took turns screaming
into a microphone: “Where’s the guy with the boshafshofa?”
Or “Where’s the guy with the crazy hairdo?”