WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY … AND HE IS US – Marilyn Armstrong

“We have met the enemy… and he is us”

Walt Kelly – Pogo cartoonists

I receive many inquiries concerning this quote, so perhaps this page will answer most questions, and explain the origins.

From the foreword to The Pogo Papers, Copyright 1952-53

“The publishers of this book, phrenologists of note, have laid hands upon the author’s head and report the following vibrations:

Herein can be found that rare native tree, the Presidential Timber, struck down in mid-sprout by the jawbone of a politician. Pogo returns to the swamp from a couple of political conventions to find his unfinished business being rapidly finished, once and for all, by rough and ready hands.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

With that much information, you are about as well-equipped as anybody to plunge into the still waters of the Okefenokee Swamp, home of the Pogo people. The activities in this present book were spread shamelessly over the past drought-ridden year. Looking back across the fertilizer, small shafts of green can be seen here and there, while off in the distance wisps of smoke denote the harvesters at work.

Some nature lovers may inquire as to the identity of a few creatures here portrayed. On this point, field workers are in some dispute.

Specializations and markings of individuals everywhere abound in such profusion that major idiosyncracies 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 a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join the 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 tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

I receive many inquiries concerning this quote, so perhaps this page will answer most questions, and explain the origins.

— From the foreword to The Pogo Papers, Copyright 1952-53


This was true when he wrote it, it was true when he said the words that we still recite — because they are true. They are even more cogent and urgently needed today.

We have met the enemy … and he is us.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

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