Cartoon: Run Them Down

This cartoon appears today at The Nib.

If you like these cartoons, please support them at Patreon. Even a $1 pledge means a lot to me.

Transcript of Cartoon

Panel 1 shows a white man wearing a collared shirt and a necktie pouring gasoline out of a can.
MAN: Wow, this popular conservative columnist and law professor says protestors should be run down! Retweet!

Panel 2 shows the same man striking a match. He has a disturbingly large grin.
MAN: GOP legislators in North Carolina, Florida and Tennesee want to protect drivers who “accidentally” run down protestors? About time!

Panel 3 shows the same man, lit by a huge fire behind him, shrugging.
MAN: Someone plowed their car into left-wing protestors? How awful! How does someone even come up with a sick idea like that?

Posted in Cartooning & comics, In the news | 52 Comments  

Cartoon: Time Travel

(This cartoon was first published on The Nib.)

Mandolin has been after me for ages to do a cartoon where the year 2000, pro-Nader Barry would be confronted by a Barry from the future. So this one’s for Mandolin. :-)

This is one of my few cartoons that comes from a place of “this is funny,” rather than a place of “I’m angry about this issue!” But there is a real underlying issue here, which is how Republicans have gotten so much worse in my lifetime. Reagan seemed so awful, and the first Bush seemed similarly awful. But then Bush Jr seemed unimaginably bad – until Trump came along and showed us how much worse Republicans can get. The kicker panel is my attempt to think of where this trend might be heading.

The art for this was interesting to draw – first of all, because it felt so odd to be drawing myself over and over and over again. And also, as a character design challenge – I had to do three (four, counting the kicker panel) designs, all of which are easily distinguishable from each other for readers, but all of whom nonetheless could be the same person.

My appearance isn’t 100% accurate, because I prioritized character design over accuracy. In particular, I don’t think I really looked like that in 2000; that’s more what I looked like in 1990. But from a character design standpoint, using that look was irresistible to me.

Transcript of Cartoon:

Panel 1
CAPTION: The Year 2000

The scene shows a park or college campus scene. A woman stands in front of a table, listening with an expression of skepticism; the table has a big sign that says “NADER” hanging off the front. Behind the table, talking to the woman, is BARRY2000, who is clean-shaven and has big messy hair. Behind Barry2000, BARRY2008 appears, transported to the scene by a glowing purple ring in the air. Barry2008 is yelling in a panic at Barry2000. Barry2008 is wearing a vest over a t-shirt, has his hair tied in a ponytail, and has a van dyke beard and mustache.

BARRY2000: Nader is our only choice that isn’t a vote for evil!
BARRY2008: Barry, stop!

Panel 2
A close shot shows Barry2000 and Barry2008. Barry2000 is puzzled, Barry2008 is still intense and panicked.

BARRY2000: Who are you?
BARRY2008: I’m you! I’m Barry from 2008. I’m using a time machine to stop you from making an awful mistake!

Panel 3
Close shot of Barry2008, who is waving his arms and still looks panicked.

BARRY2008: George W. Bush is much worse than you think he’ll be! There was a terrorist attack, and we invaded Iraq, and it’s all awful!

Panel 4
Barry 2008 continues to talk at Barry2000. Behind Barry2008 BARRY2016 appears in a glowing ring of time travel, tapping Barry2008 on the shoulder. Barry2016 is wearing a striped polo shirt, has his hair in a ponytail, and his beard is trimmed short.

BARRY2008: I literally can’t imagine a worse Pres-
BARRY2016: Excuse me, I’m Barry from 2016.

Tiny “kicker” panel at the bottom.
BARRY2024, an older, balding Barry in a v-neck shirt, has appeared and is talking to Barry2016, who looks very happy.

BARRY2024: Hi, I’m Barry from 2024. We’re ruled by giant alien roaches.
BARRY2016: So it gets better!

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 12 Comments  

“Unlocking the Garret” – a new essay by Mandolin, for the “Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction” Kickstarter

Check out this essay by Mandolin!

“Unlocking the Garret” by Rachel Swirsky

Excerpt:

It’s in the stereotype. The artist of tempestuous temperament who drinks to excess as he stumbles, lean and tuberculotic, up the winding steps to his garret. Van Gogh cut off his ear. Plath put her head in the oven. The artist is passionate; the artist is mercurial; the artist is mad.

Sometimes stereotypes do hold a shard of truth.

I don’t know why there’s a connection between creativity and madness. One could provoke the other; both could be caused by another factor. It could be inherent. It could be cultural. Whatever the why, there’s a high frequency of mental illness among artists.

Despite this, we rarely talk about how mental illness affects the work. Taboos about discussing personal experiences with mental illness remain, promoted by shame and ignorance. In this toxic fog, the stereotype of the mad artist looms large, discouraging some from even seeking treatment because they believe creativity can only persist in the garret.

I have bipolar disorder—the second type, the one that lacks extremely high mood. I’ve been in treatment for ten years or so, and I’m lucky in that medications work for me. They don’t work for everybody, and for some people, they come with unbearable side effects. Still, disability remains something I have to navigate daily, and it probably always will be.

Read the rest here.

Posted in Disability Issues, Disabled Rights & Issues | 5 Comments  

from “The Lines That Antisemitism and Racism Draw”

Today is Shabbat Nachamu, the Sabbath of Consolation. Last year at this time, I was on a family vacation in Europe, sitting in our host’s dining room in Sweden, early in the morning while everyone else was still asleep, and writing the fourth in a series of letters to Jonathan Penton about racism and antisemitism. That letter took Shabbat Nachamu as its starting point. The letters as a whole, as a single meditation I called “The Lines That Antisemitism and Racism Draw,” were inspired by the racism and antisemitism of Donald Tump’s campaign, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Jonathan’s request that I write something that would balance out an egregiously privileged and racist statement made by a Jewish academic who’d submitted a piece to Jonathan’s publication, Unlikely Stories, which was doing a special issue called Black Art Matters. Even though I wrote the letter a year ago—by the Jewish calendar, exactly a year ago today—the issues it raises are still relevant, so I am republishing it below. I hope, after reading it, you will consider reading the rest of the letters as well, which you can find in their original format on Unlikely Stories. Or, if that journal’s white text on black background is hard for you to read, you can find the letters here, in a more traditional format.


Monday, August 15

Dear Jonathan,

We arrived in Stockholm four days ago. This is the first chance I’ve had to write. We’re here to celebrate my wife’s cousin’s 40th birthday, and, in addition to us and the other relatives who’ve come from New York, family and friends have gathered from Tehran, Toronto, and Milan. Our days, as I’m sure you can imagine, have been busy, filled with reunions and first meetings, the reliving of old memories, the making of new ones, obligatory sightseeing, and lots and lots of eating and drinking. The birthday party itself was the night before last, a Madonna-themed affair that kept us dancing—sometimes to music I hadn’t danced to since the 1980s—until the very, very early hours of the morning.

I’m sitting now in the empty dining room of the house where we’re staying. Our hosts—the birthday girl and her husband—and their three young children are still sleeping, as are the more than two basketball team’s worth of siblings, cousins, and in-laws who’ve also been staying here. I wish I were still sleeping as well, but, as I told you in an earlier letter, once I’m up, I’m up, and so part of me is actually glad to have this time alone. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wrote to you before we left Scotland, and there is more I’d like to say.

A quick glance at my calendar while my laptop was booting up reminded me that this weekend was Shabbat Nachamu, the Sabbath of Consolation. Shabbat Nachamu always falls on the sabbath immediately following Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av, the fast day on which Jews mourn the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, by the Babylonians and Romans respectively. Each of those conquering nations sent the Jews into exile, and so Tisha B’Av also memorializes the dissolution of the Jewish nation, which makes it easy to understand why the rabbis scheduled Shabbat Nachamu when they did. The day takes its name from the first words of the week’s haftorah, Nachamu, nachamu, ami:

Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and declare to her that her term of service is over, that her iniquity is expiated; for she has received at the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40: 1–2)

Jerusalem, God seems to be saying here, the Jewish nation, has suffered enough, the implication being that God is finally ready to bring the pain and loss of exile to an end. As the facts of Jewish history demonstrate, however, God did not keep this promise. Indeed, over the centuries, Tisha B’av’s significance has been expanded to include disasters that befell the Jewish people exile long after the Roman conquest in 70 CE. None of these occurred precisely on the ninth of Av, but they all occurred during that month:

  • The beginning of the First Crusade, which resulted in the deaths of 10,000 Jews and the destruction of Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland.
  • The expulsion of the Jews from England
  • The expulsion of the Jews from France
  • The expulsion of the Jews from Spain
  • The Nazi Party’s formal approval of “The Final Solution”
  • The beginning of the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp

The full list contains about a dozen such calamities, but I have focused on these six since they are all unambiguously rooted in the idea that Jewish existence is somehow existentially threatening to the non-Jewish communities in which we live. For the medieval church, this threat was religious in nature. The Jews refused to accept Jesus as the messiah and son of God, putting us in league with Satan by definition. For the Nazis, the threat was racial, embedded in their belief that the different “races” of human beings were pitted against each other in a Darwinian struggle for survival and ultimate domination.

The “racial” characteristics that made the Jews so dangerous to the Nazis, however, were essentially the same as the spiritual and other deficiencies that, according to the Church, marked us as perhaps the most loyal of Satan’s followers. Indeed, while the specifics of antisemitic expression have been different in different times and places, Jew-hatred retains a remarkably consistent internal logic wherever you find it. Whether you’re in Poland or Venezuela, Singapore or Egypt, Indonesia or the United States, antisemites will tell you that to be Jewish is to be some combination of greedy, conniving, sexually rapacious, financially corrupt, congenitally dishonest and/or biologically deficient. What’s more, they will say, we are always, always, hell-bent on destroying everything that’s pure and good in the world, whether pure and good is defined as the Church, the ideal of the Aryan nation, or the prosperity everyone would be enjoying if only the Jews did not control the world’s financial networks.

I have written elsewhere [the links to which are now dead] about the all-too-often violent antisemitism that has been a regular feature of my life since I was in third grade. In recent years, this antisemitism has most often been expressed in the context of Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinians. I’m not talking about criticisms of Israel or of Zionism that cross the line into antisemitism, which I think happens both more and less frequently than the people on each side of that issue are willing to admit. Rather, I am talking about people who have used the suffering of the Palestinians to dismiss concerns about antisemitism in general, or who have insisted that, because I am Jewish, my primary, unquestioning, unconditional loyalty must be to the State of Israel—that, to use the framing I talked about in my last letter, I see myself as a “Jewish American,” not an “American Jew.”

Like the person who said to me, when I criticized Israel’s use of torture in interrogating Palestinian prisoners, “I know you don’t really mean that. You might say it in public because it’s the right thing to say, but you Jews always stick together, right? Especially when it comes to your ‘homeland,’” and he raised his fingers to put scare quotes around the word. When I pointed out that I was American, not Israeli, he looked at me incredulously. “But you are Jewish, aren’t you? I don’t understand.”

Or the acquaintance who agreed that “of course antisemitism is a problem” when I expressed concern about an antisemitic incident in upstate New York, but who went on to say, “But Jews aren’t really in danger here, are they? What’s really a shame is how the Jewish people, who have suffered so much, are causing the Palestinians that same kind of suffering.”

Or the impeccably progressive relative who, one year at Thanksgiving dinner, was incredulous that I would ask her to condemn former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial. “You do know,” she said, “that there are Palestinians dying right now at the hands of the Israelis.” Then she went on, “The Holocaust happened more than fifty years ago. Shouldn’t we be worrying about things that are happening right now?”

Then there are the people who say outright that the Israeli occupation of Palestine is the root cause of contemporary antisemitism, like the friend who insisted that you really couldn’t blame the European protesters who chanted Jews to the gas chambers! during a march against the most recent Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2014. “The Palestinians,” she said, “are suffering more than you can imagine.”

As if all Jews everywhere, by definition, endorse and/or materially support, and are therefore morally and materially accountable for, Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, and as if, even if that were true, the Final Solution is the appropriate form for that accountability to take.

Or as if antisemitism did not have the history I alluded to above, long predating not just the Israeli occupation, but also the Zionist movement of the 19th century.

Or as if, were the miraculous to happen, were there to be tomorrow a real and true and mutually fulfilling peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, all the people in the world who hate Jews would suddenly wake up and say, “Well, that’s a relief! Hating them was such a burden. I’m glad we can finally stop.”

I don’t want to pretend that writing about antisemitism like this is less complex than it actually is. It feels inhumanly callous to set aside in what I wrote above the moral imperative to at least bear witness to what the Palestinians are suffering; and even as I finish the sentence I’ve just written, it seems an unforgivable omission not to remind people that the very beginning of Hamas’ charter frames its resistance, its call for Israel’s destruction, not as a struggle against Israel and Israelis, or even Zionists, but against the Jews, and to ask how Israel is, how Jews in general are, supposed to respond to that. I’m not trying to create a false equivalence here, as if Israel is not an occupier and the Palestinians are not the ones being occupied, or as if the support with which many Jews around the world respond to Israel’s occupation is not deeply problematic. I just want to acknowledge what focusing on my own experience of antisemitism in the United States inevitably leaves out of the conversation.

Thirty years ago, just after I started a new job as the Hillel director at a private college on Long Island, I took part in a racial awareness workshop, the purpose of which was to bring all campus constituencies together to confront racism on campus. As participants, our goal was to identify areas of campus life where issues of race needed to be addressed, and, in committees we would form when the workshop was over, to devise a plan of action to address with them.

On the third day of the workshop, in response to something someone said that I don’t remember, in an exercise where white people were just supposed to listen to what the people of color in the room had to say, one of the African American men in the group raised his voice in anger. “We need to organize just like Minister Farrakhan says, and don’t talk to me about his antisemitism! Not when he is working so damned hard to improve the lives of Black people.” I looked around the room in the few seconds of silence that followed, waiting—especially since we’d spent so much time talking about white people’s responsibility for speaking out against other white people’s racism—waiting for someone who wasn’t Jewish to call out that more than obvious swipe at the Jews in the room. Not one person spoke up, not even from among the workshop facilitators, whom I would have expected to know better. The moment passed and we moved on, and not only was it as if nothing problematic had been said, but also as if the Jews who were present had not actually been there at all.

Sadly, this experience of watching the non-Jews around me back away, or prevaricate, or stand in silence when antisemitism rears its head is an all too familiar one. Here are a few from much earlier in my life: the teachers who stood by while my elementary school classmates threw pennies at me for being “a cheap Jew;” the neighborhood adults who could have intervened but didn’t with the kids who almost daily threw rocks at me while calling me “heeb” and “kike;” and the leadership of the town where I grew up, which failed for more than a decade to sufficiently erase from the wall of the public library antisemitic graffiti written about me when I was fifteen. The words—Newman is a penny Jew—were still legible when I was in my early thirties and I brought my wife, then my fiancée, to meet my mother, who was still living in the neighborhood at the time.

To say I felt at best unwelcome in the place where I lived would be an understatement, as it would be hard to understate just how thoroughly that feeling dovetailed with what I’d been learning about Jewish history and how unwelcome the Jews have been in almost every place we have lived, except for the Land of Israel. Notice that I wrote the Land of Israel, not the State. I want in what I say next to distinguish between the idea of a Jewish homeland and the political reality that Israel currently is. The distinction is important, because while it’s been a long time since I thought of the State of Israel as a homeland I would want to claim, I’d be lying if I said the idea of such a place, where I would be unconditionally welcomed, valued, and safe as a Jew, does not still resonate with me. Not to feel this way, it seems to me, even just a little bit, is to deny a reality of Jewish history, which is that wherever antisemitism has been allowed to run its intellectual, cultural, socioeconomic, and political course, the end result has been an attempt to eliminate—either by killing them or kicking them out—the Jews who call that place home.

The first person in my life who wasn’t Jewish to acknowledge this feeling as an irreducible part of what it means to be Jewish in an antisemitic world was June Jordan, the African American writer I told you about in my first letter. She did this in an essay she wrote some time in the 1980s. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of her books with me here in Sweden—and a quick internet search hasn’t helped—so I can’t provide you with a direct quote or accurate citation. Still, I believe that this is an accurate paraphrase of what she wrote: I accept that, on an emotional level, the safety Israel represents for Jews is a non-negotiable necessity.

No one who wasn’t Jewish had ever said that to me before.

I need to write those words again: No one who wasn’t Jewish had ever said that to me before.

And again, No one who wasn’t Jewish had ever said that to me before.

Perhaps more to the point, though, all too few people who aren’t Jewish have said that to me, or anything even resembling that, since.

Well, my hosts’ youngest child has made his way here into the dining room, and he wants to play. The other kids won’t be far behind. There’s more to say. I will write again.

Till then,

Richard


As I said, I hope you will consider reading the rest of the letters as well, which you can find in their original format on Unlikely Stories. Or, if that journal’s white text on black background is hard for you to read, you can find the letters here, in a more traditional format.

Posted in anti-racism, Anti-Semitism, Jews and Judaism, Race, racism and related issues | 9 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, I Too Would Like Some Eggs Edition

  1. Balkinization: Is the Republican Effort to Destroy the ACA Dead?
    Answer: No.
  2. Related: Centrist lawmakers plot bipartisan health care stabilization bill – POLITICO
    Seems like a good idea (well, except for ending the tax on medical devices, which I suspect just shows that a lobby’s influence can be bipartisan). But would GOP leaders in Congress even allow this to get a vote?
  3. Why Republicans Want the 2020 Census to Fail – Rolling Stone
    Because a Census that undercounts Black and Latinx voters helps Republicans win elections, and they think that’s all that matters. Supporting the GOP means supporting anti-democracy; the GOP fights harder and harder against democracy, and I have yet to see a single Republican object to it.
  4. With New Hampshire, all of New England has decriminalized or legalized marijuana – Vox
  5. Jeff Sessions Treads on the Property Rights of Americans – The Atlantic
    Some Republicans have opposed civil forfeiture, to their credit. But will opposition continue now that Jeff Sessions is calling for civil forfeitures to be increased? I hope so, but I won’t be surprised if not.
  6. Medicine’s Women Problem  – by Aubrey Hirsch
    Good autobio cartoon on The Nib, about misogyny and medicine.
  7. Maybe Taking the Arguments of Nazis At Face Value Is Bad | Noah Berlatsky on Patreon
  8. People Are Really Mad at the DCCC for Saying It Will Continue to Fund Pro-Life Candidates – Mother Jones
    I have no idea what to think of this. If this really helps the Democrats regain a majority in Congress, then it protects abortion – having a Dem majority in Congress does more to protect abortion rights than having a minority that is 100% pro-choice. (To use an obvious example, pro-life Democrats will almost certainly still vote to confirm a pro-choice judicial nominee). But would this actually help the Democrats win a majority? Because if not, it’s an awful betrayal. Many smart people I respect are furious with the Dems over this.
  9. Trump administration argues federal law doesn’t protect gay employees.
  10. KING: Black victims should get the same justice as Justine Damond – NY Daily News
  11. Why Are Dogs So Friendly? The Answer May Be in 2 Genes – The New York Times
    “…the friendliness of dogs may share a genetic basis with a human disease called Williams-Beuren syndrome.”
  12. WATCH: NRA TV hosts warn ‘white families’ will be ‘tortured and killed’ if Black Lives Matter succeeds
  13. Charlie Gard: facts, medicine, and right-wing fictions
  14. Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 117 – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
    Thomas Nast, the first great American political cartoonist.
  15. White Economic Privilege Is Alive and Well – The New York Times
    “Fifty years ago, black upper-class Americans had incomes about two-thirds those of white upper-class Americans, while the black middle class — those in the 60th percentile — earned about two-thirds as much as its white counterpart. Those ratios remain the same today.”
  16. This long, long twitter exchange between two novelists, Chuck Wendig and Sam Skyes, is hilarious.
  17. The Trial of the Century That Wasn’t | History | Smithsonian
    “The case against Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, would have been a legal showdown of the ages.”
  18. Protesters Demand Emmett Till Artist Dana Schutz Be Banned in Boston
    A grand total of eight (five?) people signed the letter (who I suspect the right will paint as representing all liberals everywhere). The letter in effect says that because Schutz made one racist painting, none of her paintings should ever be displayed again. Regardless of if the painting is racist, that response is disproportionate and merciless, neither of which are good things to be. (The painting in question isn’t even in the exhibition they want shut down.)
  19. Speaking of Dana Schutz, this article by Coco Fusco is excellent: Censorship, Not the Painting, Must Go: On Dana Schutz’s Image of Emmett Till
  20. And also this very different take by Lisa Whittington: #MuseumsSoWhite: Black Pain and Why Painting Emmett Till Matters – NBC News.


(Above very clever cosplay by Brett.)

Posted in Link farms | 53 Comments  

Anatomy of a Book Cover

Not too long ago, I received from my publisher, Guernica Editions, the final proof of the cover of my new book of poems, Words For What Those Men Have Done and I am really happy with it. The design, of course, is the work of Guernica’s Allen Jomoc, Jr., but the concept is largely mine:

Almost from the moment Words for What Those Men Have Done started to take shape in my imagination as a book, I thought of it as a companion to my first volume of poetry, The Silence of Men, published by CavanKerry Press in 2006. The poems in both books emerge from the same set of concerns about how the sexual violence I survived as a child has shaped my life as a man and how I, as I live that life, try to hold myself accountable for what I have learned as a survivor. I chose Words for What Those Men Have Done as the title—it’s a line from the last poem in the book—because I wanted to move from the act of breaking silence, which is what I did in The Silence of Men, to the act of holding “those men” accountable. From exploring, in other words, what it means to say, out loud and without shame, I was sexually violated to claiming the consequences of refusing to be silent. I wanted the covers of the two books to reflect that progression as well.

This is the cover for The Silence of Men, which I think is gorgeous:

Peter Cusack, CavanKerry’s Design and Production Manager at the time, actually painted that image in response to the poems in the book. In fact, the painting now hangs above my piano:

It’s a very striking cover. In fact, telling its story, i.e., that Peter painted it, has helped me sell not a few copies of the book over the years. What struck me as I thought about the connection I wanted to establish between it and Words for What Those Men Have Done, however, was my sense that the man on the cover of The Silence of Men is, at one and the same time, a man being silenced (by flowers!) about things that have happened/been done to him and a man being silenced about what he has witnessed—about, in other words, things that happened to others, that he has seen, and that he does not yet have words for.

So, when Guernica’s editor Michael Mirolla asked me for concept and art suggestions for the cover of the new book, I went looking through the images I own for pictures that would do two things: carry over the theme of bearing witness from one book cover to the next and suggest the process of finding a way to communicate the trauma that was witnessed.

The first image I found is one that I’ve used on this blog before, which reminds of the kind of self-portrait a child who’s been violated might draw when asked to by, say, a therapist:

The second image I sent Michael is also one I’ve used before, a man’s eye looking straight ahead through a pair of glasses:

It turned out, though, that I didn’t have a file with high enough resolution for that image to work, and so Michael suggested the picture that we ultimately used:

The result is not just really cool on its own; it interacts with the title, Words of What Those Men Have Done, in just the way I want it to, while also carrying over the themes from the cover of The Silence of Men in just the way I was hoping for:

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments  

New Cartoon: Trump and Trans Soldiers

If you like these cartoons, you can help me make more by supporting my Patreon. Even a $1 pledge means a lot to me.

This ripped-from-the-headlines cartoon was posted on The Nib today. Thanks, Nib!

I think this may be the first time I’ve drawn Donald Trump.

TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

Panel 1
Donald Trump, standing on a stage behind a podium with the Presidential seal on it, is speaking. He’s wearing a blue suit.
CAPTION: Trump to Soldiers, January 20, 2017
TRUMP: I have your back!

Panel 2
A female soldier looks down, surprised, to see that someone has stabbed her in the back, the knife tip emerging from the front of her chest. We can see that the knife is being held by someone in a blue suit.
CAPTION: Trump to trans soldiers, July 26, 2017.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 11 Comments  

A Couple of Education-Related Union Blog Posts People on Alas Might Be Interested In

In September, I start my first full term as Secretary of my faculty union. One of my responsibilities is to write and manage the union blog, which has been very interesting, both because I have been given more or less free rein in how I do so and because of the ways in which I am constrained by the fact that it’s a union blog, written in a corporate voice (all posts go out as authored by the NCCFT Executive Committee), which is has till now been used primarily to talk to the membership about campus-related matters. I am slowly trying to introduce more outward-facing, issues oriented posts, and below are two that I thought might be of interest to people on this blog, based on conversations we’ve had before. They are framed in terms of their relevance to the college where I teach, but the issues they address are not relevant only to my campus:

  1. How Do You Measure a Community College’s Success?
  2. Governor Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship Program Is Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

You are of course welcome to post comments on either of the posts themselves, just be aware of two things:

  1. Your first comment will need to be approved by me, which might take some time if I am not near a device that I can use to approve it.
  2. I will not be able to participate in the conversation as myself, since it is the executive committee’s policy to maintain only a corporate presence on the blog. (We want to avoid the confusion that inevitably results because people tend to assume that we are always expressing “the union’s position speaking” even when we make clear we are speaking only for ourselves.)

Therefore, if you’d like to engage me as part of any conversation these pieces might engender, please bring the comments back here to Alas.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments  

Cartoon: N-World Alternatives For White Pundits

If you enjoy these cartoons, please support them on Patreon! Even a dollar pledge means a lot to me.

This cartoon is lampooning two things I’ve seen right-wingers do: First, claim that it’s racist that Black people but not white people can “get away” with saying the N-word. And second, look for (or invent) alternative racial slurs that they can say while remaining respectable.

Artwise, this cartoon is definitely on the “do minimal penciling, try to keep the drawings loose and lively” end of my scale. (As opposed to a cartoon like “Helping Ordinary Americans,” where almost every line, except for some of the shading, was penciled out before I did the final black linework.)

I honestly like the loose approach better, when it works well – I can’t think of a single cartoonist whose work gives me more joy to look at than Bill Watterson’s (Calvin and Hobbes), who is the king of brilliant loose lines. I’m no Bill Watterson, obviously, but that’s the ideal. But doing a loose approach feels, to me, like working without a net. If I do careful, detailed renderings, I’m less likely to be surprised, either in a good or a bad way. (And some cartoons I just think need to be more detailed, of course.)

More about the art that probably no one but me cares about: I like the look of having no word balloons in political cartoons. (Maybe it’s because I grew up on Doonesbury.) But I also like full backgrounds, and the Doonesbury approach of just having the backgrounds cut off and turn to white always strikes me as a bit clutzy looking. So here I tried having a full background, but doing it in light enough colors so the text could go directly on top of it and still be legible. What do you think? If you hate this look, let me know and I’ll be less likely to do it again. :-)

Transcript of Cartoon

Panel 1
This panel shows a balding man with a bow tie, THE PUNDIT, sitting in a wealthy-looking study, with a large curtained window, a little table with a tablecloth and a lamp, and a large framed portrait visible behind him. He is sitting in a plain office chair, at a tiny work desk, with his laptop open on the desk.
PUNDIT: If I want to be a respectable pundit, I’m not allowed to use the “N-word.”

Panel 2
The Pundit angrily kicks his little desk over.
PUNDIT: Blacks use the N-word all the time! Whatta double-standard! They’re the real racists!

Panel 3
The Pundit puts the desk back where it was.
PUNDIT: I need words that will let me stay respectable, but readers will know what I really mean.

Panel 4
The Pundit sits, chin in his hands, thinking aloud.
PUNDIT: Let me see… There’s where they live. “Urban,” “ghetto,” “inner city,” “hood.”

Panel 5
The Pundit closes his eyes, one forefinger on his temple, concentrating.
PUNDIT: “Race baiter.” “Race pimp.” “Race hustler.”

Panel 6
The Pundit’s eyes open; he’s smiling, warming to the subject.
PUNDIT: (Hey, there are a bunch of these!) “Race huckster.” “Race charlatan.” “Race monger.”

Panel 7
The Pundit, with a huge grin, has stood up from his chair and is pumping a fist high in the air. By the end of this panel he is yelling.
PUNDIT: “Criminal class!” “Welfare queens!” “Sketchy!” “Shady!” “THUG!”

Panel 8
The Pundit, looking very satisfied, speaks directly to the reader.
PUNDIT: What a list! This’ll be a huge blow against the racist double-standards that oppress white pundits!

Panel 9 (last panel)
The Pundit puts his left hand over his heart and looks reverent, a tear falling from one eye.
PUNDIT: When my grandchildren ask me what I did to fight racism, I will tell them of this day.

Kicker Panel (A tiny additional panel at the bottom of the strip)
The pundit is speaking to a Black child, who is bewildered by this.
PUNDIT: You’re welcome!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues | 9 Comments  

Fifty Pages of SuperButch!

Hey, a new SuperButch page!

If we include the 16-page “First Glance” short, this is the fiftieth page of SuperButch that Becky and I have created. Which I’m pretty proud of!

I’m sorry I’ve been bad at putting each page up on “Alas.” To tell you the truth, I’ve never been certain if posting the pages here fits with what “Alas” readers want to see. But if people want to see that here, let me know.

In the meanwhile, you can read all the pages at the SuperButch website. And if you’d like to support SuperButch, Becky now has a Patreon. Even a pledge of a dollar means a lot to us.

Posted in SuperButch | Leave a comment