Here Comes Another Post About Mexico

Auguste is right — this really might be the dumbest cartoon ever in the history of the entire universe. And this is not just the universe where Chris Muir lives, but the one Bruce Tinsley lives in, too!

mexicocartoon.gif

I’m not sure what my favorite part of this little slice of wingnuttery is. I think it’s the implication that these are things unique to Mexico. I mean, it’s not like America lacks drug gangs, kidnappings, unemployment, poverty, or even swine flu. And I thought conservatives liked guns! I mean, it’s not like America is anti-gun. Indeed, most of the guns in Mexico are coming from the U.S.

I can only conclude that we’re also bad neighbors. And we’re still here, because…um…well, I don’t know really where either America or Mexico is supposed to go.

In other news, the wingnuts have started calling the flu outbreak in Mexico the “Mexican Flu,” because, you know, the wingnuts are a bunch of racist assholes.

[Postscript from Ampersand: The cartoon Jeff criticizes was written and drawn by Donna Barstow, whose work can be found on the web here and here.]

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Health Care and Related Issues, Immigration, Migrant Rights, etc, Latin America. Bookmark the permalink. 

33 Responses to Here Comes Another Post About Mexico

  1. 1
    lilacsigil says:

    …they do realise that this is exactly what everyone else thinks about the US, don’t they?

  2. 2
    FilthyGrandeur says:

    this is just ridiculous. i know that. people that read this blog know that. but there are lots of people listening to the media panic without educating themselves on the swine flu, and turning to racism to ease their irrational fear of something you can recover from…

  3. 3
    sanabituranima says:

    Wow. There’s nothing like uninformed fear to bring out people’s prejudices.

    Why can’t people be rational and just lick autistic children?

  4. 4
    chingona says:

    Poor Mexico. So far from God. So close to the United States.

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    In other news, the wingnuts have started calling the flu outbreak in Mexico the “Mexican Flu,”

    The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization has said that people should not call it swine flu, as a) nobody has established that anyone has caught it from pigs, and b) it has human and avian flu markers in it as well as swine flu markers. The World Organization for Animal Health has asked people to stop calling it “swine flu”.

    So what to call it? “Mexican flu” makes the most sense, as that it where it was first reported. There’s strong precedent for this; the disease that caused the 1918 flu pandemic was called the “Spanish flu” because that’s where it was first reported.

    If racist assholes are seizing on this for their own agenda they deserve criticism. But calling it the “Mexican flu” isn’t automatically racist.

  6. 6
    FilthyGrandeur says:

    @ronF

    the name doesn’t necessarily have to reflect what the flu is. lots of things are given names without them making a whole lot of sense. i.e. ringworm. i’ve had this several times, and was confused to find it’s not really a worm. it’s a fungus. so i would rather it be called “swine flu” rather than it be taken as yet another form of racism…

  7. 7
    smadin says:

    As a friend of mine who works in public health has pointed out — why not just call it “H1N1″? That’s not actually a very hard name to remember.

    Also, ten points for the Refreshments reference, Jeff.

  8. 8
    PG says:

    RonF,

    The “Spanish flu” actually is a perfect example of why it’s silly to use geographic naming for illnesses: the particular influenza strain wasn’t first diagnosed in Spain, it’s just that because the Spanish government wasn’t distracted by involvement in WWI, it could identify it as a public health threat before France did. I think it’s odd that anyone would object to its being called swine flu, considering that there have been instances where people have gotten swine flu from contact with pigs or their handlers in the past. See the CDC’s info on this.

    The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization is leery of calling it swine flu because that makes uninformed people think they can get it from eating pork.

  9. 9
    chingona says:

    The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization is leery of calling it swine flu because that makes uninformed people think they can get it from eating pork.

    Seriously. It’s not like everyone was calling it Mexican flu and then the PC police came along and tried to change it to swine flu. It started out as swine flu. And when you look at who is pushing this Mexican flu business, it’s political agendas all the way down. Not all of them are racist political agendas, but it’s agendas nonetheless.

    And I’d bet money that pork sales decline because of this.

  10. 10
    chingona says:

    And some believe “Spanish” flu actually started in Kansas.

    This is from wikipedia, but it matches what I’ve heard from other sources, including my on-line epidemiologist friend, documentaries and books:

    Some scholars have theorized that the flu probably originated in the Far East.[9] While historian Alfred Crosby observed that the flu seems to have originated in Kansas, the political scientist Andrew Price-Smith has published data from the Austrian archives suggesting that the influenza had earlier origins, beginning in Austria during the Spring of 1917.[10] Popular writer John Barry echoed Crosby in proposing that Haskell County, Kansas was the location of the first outbreak of flu.[11] In the United States the disease was first observed at Fort Riley, Kansas, United States, on March 4, 1918,[12] and Queens, New York, on March 11, 1918. In August 1918, a more virulent strain appeared simultaneously in Brest, France, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and in the U.S. at Boston, Massachusetts. The Allies of World War I came to call it the Spanish flu, primarily because the pandemic received greater press attention after it moved from France to Spain in November 1918. Spain was not involved in the war and had not imposed wartime censorship.[13]

  11. 11
    RonF says:

    It’s true that the Spanish flu likely originated somewhere else – that’s why I said there’s plenty of precedent for naming a disease for where it was first reported. But right now as far as I can see the vast majority of cases that have been reported has occurred in Mexico or has occurred in someone who has recently been to Mexico or in contact with someone who’s recently been to Mexico.

    I think it’s odd that anyone would object to its being called swine flu, considering that there have been instances where people have gotten swine flu from contact with pigs or their handlers in the past

    But it’s not established that this particular strain originated from swine. It’s got avian and human markers as well as swine ones, and there’s no recorded index case showing that this particular strain was passed from a pig to a human. So you actually support my point; calling it swine flu invokes the history that you cite and thus is highly inaccurate and misleading. It’s reasonable and worthwhile to make a point to people that it has nothing to do with what is an important food source and one that a lot of people’s sustenance depends on directly or indirectly. Ignorance on this point can hurt a lot of people, so making a change to eliminate that is a very good idea.

    so i would rather it be called “swine flu” rather than it be taken as yet another form of racism…

    I try not to live my life constrained by someone else’s ignorance.

    As a friend of mine who works in public health has pointed out — why not just call it “H1N1″? That’s not actually a very hard name to remember.

    Smadin, that works for me. But I bet it’s just a little too technical for most people. And then there’s the issue that there are other H1N1 variants that are not the same and are not causing the problem that this variant is. So from a purely technical viewpoint H1N1 is a little too inclusive.

  12. 12
    Myca says:

    Wait, let me get this straight, Ron. Your position, basically:

    Calling a disease Mexican Flu that didn’t originate in Mexico is A-OK!
    Calling a disease Swine Flu that didn’t originate in Swine is totally unreasonable!

    Do I have that right?

    —Myca

  13. 13
    PG says:

    RonF,

    And as I already said, Spanish flu was not first reported in Spain. Even if it were, using such non-descriptive names frequently creates confusion; the Spanish referred to it as the “French flu” because it had crossed over from that border. Spanish flu is a misnomer, and most medical sources use “1918 flu” as their shorthand for the pandemic.

    “It’s reasonable and worthwhile to make a point to people that it has nothing to do with what is an important food source and one that a lot of people’s sustenance depends on directly or indirectly. Ignorance on this point can hurt a lot of people, so making a change to eliminate that is a very good idea.”

    But the change doesn’t eliminate that. Do you seriously believe that if enough people start calling it “Mexican flu” instead of “swine flu” that everyone will forget it was called “swine flu”? I’m sorry, that’s ridiculous. What would actually be helpful would be stating clearly and consistently that one cannot contract the disease through pork consumption. Because we have people arguing that it needs to be called “Mexican flu” instead of getting information out, you have governments and corporations desperately fighting over where the disease originated, for fear that their agricultural products will be tarred with the brush of unsafety. Good going.

    As for this strain having originated from contact with pigs or their handlers (as with many other viruses, one can carry swine flu and produce antibodies to fight it off without showing any symptoms), it’s looking more and more likely; Mexican officials think they’ve identified “Patient Zero,” a 4 year old living near a large hog operation.

    “H1N1 is a little too inclusive”

    How is it any more inclusive than “Mexican flu”? You think someone will hear of H1N1 to describe this illness and be confused about what’s being spoken of any more than by “Mexican flu”?

  14. 14
    macon d says:

    lilacsigil: …they do realise that this is exactly what everyone else thinks about the US, don’t they?

    Game, set, match. And in the very first comment!

  15. 15
    Tapetum says:

    It seems to have been first reported at a pig farm – so swine flu works for me, even if it’s not biologically swine flu. It’s naming it for it’s first reporting.

  16. 16
    Jeff Fecke says:

    If the proposed name was “Canadian Flu” or “American Flu” or something like that, I wouldn’t really care that much. But “Mexican Flu” is being pushed specifically to make the link that Mexican==Filthy and disease-ridden. Given that, almost any other name is preferable. The CDC appears to have settled on H1N1, and that’s the name I’m going to be using from here on out.

  17. 17
    Thene says:

    What bothers me isn’t the name, it’s that people are going OMG PANDEMIC when far more people have died of measles, malaria and TB in the last week than of this outbreak of flu. THAT bit of media fail is certainly racist.

  18. 18
    PG says:

    Thene,

    Er, why is it racist for the media of a particular country to pay more attention to things that affect that country than to things that affect other countries? I assure you that if the anti-vaccination folks continue to gain more converts, measles will become of more interest; an outbreak in San Diego last year got plenty of California coverage plus a segment on This American Life. Had it spread beyond the West Coast, it probably would have gotten more national attention. The NYTimes is a “national” paper, but it’s also the paper for New Yorkers, and we have several people infected with H1N1 in Queens and no doubt spreading due to the nature of the city (i.e. people using public transport and traveling into other areas before they know they’re infected).

    There’s also the simple function of “news.” When TB appeared to have developed a drug resistant strain and infected many New Yorkers who were homeless or institutionalized (e.g. in prison), that was huge news, because it was, you know, new.

  19. 19
    Sailorman says:

    Some NY prep school got hammered by the flu, didn’t it?

  20. 20
    chingona says:

    Jeff, if you want to go with H1N1 cause that’s official, that’s cool, but I think Amanda raised a good point here at Pandagon:

    Consider that the area where the pandemic is thought to have originated is absolutely swimming in pig shit and carcasses from the nearby Smithfield factory farm. Consider that journalists have chronicled how unsanitary the conditions of the factory are (beware, you don’t want to look at these pictures if you’re eating anything). Consider that brand-new vegetarian diet while also considering the ocean of pig shit and decaying pig flesh that the children who are the main victims of the flu have been exposed to.

    Consider also that the interests of a giant American agribusiness are at stake when you read articles about attempts to rename this flu something that distracts from the likely pig-based origins.

    Emphasis mine. Her version has links.

  21. 21
    PG says:

    Sailorman,

    Yes, St. Francis Prep was the Queens school, and it’s spread to a nearby special education school for autistic children, P.S. 177. Ascension School on the Upper West Side is suspected but hasn’t had cases confirmed, so at this point I think all the confirmed cases are in the outer boroughs. Nonetheless, I’m getting nervous enough to stay off the subway, and starting today am bringing my own lunch to work.

  22. 22
    Donna Barstow says:

    So…not enough to write about? You have to steal other people’s cartoons, what they do for a living? Not to mention it’s ILLEGAL to use images and intellectual copyright without permission.
    See the little © symbol on the side? That means you don’t get to use the cartoon without permission or paying. I own all rights. And hello, links? Name of the cartoonist? Where did you learn to blog?
    Just to be very clear, servers will shut down blogs for using work illegally. Please remove the cartoon immediately.
    Donna Barstow (the author that Jeff “forgot”
    http://thecartoons.net/
    http://www.gocomics.com/features/295

  23. 23
    Mandolin says:

    Oo, new LOL text. “Racist cartoonist is racist.”

  24. 24
    Myca says:

    IANAL, of course, (though we have a few here), but I’d say that this falls pretty solidly under fair use, since it’s a direct criticism of the work.

    Attribution probably ought to be included, though.

    —Myca

  25. 25
    Ampersand says:

    Donna, I’m Ampersand; I’m the blogrunner (one of a few), and also a professional cartoonist.

    I agree with you about one thing — Jeff’s post should have mentioned your name, and ideally linked to your site. That’s happened to me many times, and I never like it. I’ll update the post to add that information.

    I don’t take your legal threat seriously. Reprinting a political cartoon in order to make political commentary on it falls entirely within the bounds of fair use. I will not for a moment consider removing the cartoon from the blog.

    It frankly depresses me that a political cartoonist — someone who I’d expect to be foursquare for free speech and open debate — resorts to empty copyright threats in order to attempt to shut down criticism of her work.

    Finally, instead of coming here with bluster and legal threats, why not actually engage the issue? It seems to me — and, obviously, to Jeff – as if your cartoon is racist. Are we mistaken? Did the racist interpretation of the cartoon simply not occur to you when you drew it? If not, what were you thinking?

  26. 26
    PG says:

    Ms. Barstow might want to learn about “fair use” in the context of criticism; if this cartoon is typical of her work, she’s likely to encounter much more of it.

  27. 27
    Ampersand says:

    On her site, Ms. Barstow writes:

    Well, anyway, I have to report on the news, not wild hypotheses like 8 kids in NYC had a sniffle. [...]

    Swine flu is not Mexico’s biggest problem – notice that I put it last. And obviously, no one BLAMES a country or a person, for that matter, for getting a disease. But the US has been issuing warnings not to drink the water in Mexico for decades. Maybe, just maybe, their health department, run by the corrupt government there, are not the best.

    The Drawing I don’t know if anyone remembers the State Farm jingle that goes, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” Apparently not. Maybe I was too clever, turning it around like this for the caption.

    And I cant resist quoting this stellar response PG left in her comments:

    “And obviously, no one BLAMES a country or a person, for that matter, for getting a disease.”

    Then your State Farm jingle reference makes no sense, because the whole point of the State Farm commercial was to emphasize that State Farm is a good, virtuous, praise- and your patronage-worthy insurer. If you’re flipping it around to call Mexico a bad neighbor, how is that not coming off as blame? Do you look at your bad neighbors and say, “I don’t blame you for being bad neighbors”?

    Interestingly, you refer to negative responses as “hate mail” as a way to deflect their criticisms. You don’t even try to argue back against the point that the guns in Mexico are in large part of U.S. manufacturer origin, whereas the reverse is almost never true.

    And those “8 kids in NYC with a sniffle”? They’ve all been diagnosed as having this strain of H1N1. It’s hitting dozens of students and staffers at that school; it’s spread to the nearby special-ed school for austistic kids (a brave anti-PC person like you should have a field day with *that*); it’s now killed a baby in Houston. But just a Mexican baby, so he probably deserved it, being a bad neighbor and all.

  28. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Another racist cartoon by editorial cartoonist Donna Barstow

  29. 28
    Jeff Fecke says:

    Ms. Barstow –

    I certainly apologize for not linking to your site, and I’m grateful to Barry for adding the link.

    That said, I think it’s telling that you came in throwing legal threats around, yet simply declined to actually, you know, address what I had to say. I’ll take that as a concession that those of us who saw this cartoon as racist were right.

  30. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Cartoonist Donna Barstow Attempts To Shut Down Criticism of Her Work

  31. 29
    Plaid says:

    Cartoonist’s discussion of the cartoon, its message, and the blagosphere:
    John&Ken: Swine Flu 4pm Hr (5/1)
    http://www.kfi640.com/pages/podcasting/

    Segment starts about 3 minutes in (I started at 2:30), goes until 11:30.

    {Ideas boil down to: The cartoon is so cute! Everything is the truth, and it can be seen in newspaper headlines/news. People do not like the truth. What if she drew the cartoon with California rather than Mexico as the subject? She is upset that the term “racist” shows up in the top ten google hits for her name. Oh, those rascally, mentally unstable bloggers. At least there’s only fifty of them.}

  32. 30
    macon d says:

    Thanks Plaid, though it was painful to listen to. The oblivion–the refusal to consider ANYTHING said by those who criticize her–is just, stunning. As is the dismissal of any and all bloggage on the part of those two noisy nitwits interviewing her. “Never listen to ANYTHING in comment sections of blogs–people who comment on blogs are all idiots stuck in their parents’ basements!” etc. etc. ad nauseam.

  33. Pingback: Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-05-04 – Steal This Cartoon