Cartoon: Founding Father Wisdom, Featuring Thomas Jefferson


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This cartoon is drawn by the awesome Leah S. Metters! Leah describes herself as “an illustrator and visual development artist working hard to create amazing books and comics so she can take over the world, one smile at a time.”


OMG, isn’t Leah’s art great? I love looking at this cartoon. It’s pretty and fun and energetic and her Thomas Jefferson’s expressions are hilarious to look at. I probably would have had Jefferson monologue for a couple more panels if I’d known in advance how much of a kick I’d get from how Leah draws him.


Yes, Jefferson really did and said all the things attributed to him in this cartoon. (Other than calling himself a rapist asshat, that is.)

There’s a good argument, I think, that – as many Jefferson apologists have said – Thomas Jefferson was, in part, a product of his time.

But only “in part.” His times can’t excuse the terrible things Jefferson did. There were contemporaries of Thomas Jefferson who understood slavery was wrong. Indeed, Jefferson himself was one of those contemporaries in his youth – although never to the extent of actually freeing his slaves.

By the end of Jefferson’s life, he was firmly pro-slavery. Obviously, many Blacks in Jefferson’s lifetime knew how evil slavery was, and Jefferson should have learned from them. There were also white abolitionists like Moses Brown (like Jefferson, a wealthy slave-owner; unlike Jefferson, he eventually freed all his slaves and was consistently anti-slavery to the end of his life.)

The main thing I mean, when I say Jefferson’s flaws were a product of his time, is that a similarly terrible person, but born in 1943 instead of 1743, would have found different ways to be terrible – maybe by being anti-civil-rights instead of pro-slavery.

Jefferson’s flaws – being a slaver, a racist, a misogynist, an abusive factory-owner, etc. – are unforgivable. (Not that he’s alive to be forgiven, anyway). But they were common flaws for a rich white man of his time. The ways Jefferson was terrible were also ways he was mediocre.

He was extraordinary in other ways, such as being a gifted writer and politician – but none of that should make us forget the ways he was mediocre and evil.

The problem is that many Americans insist that Jefferson and all the other founding fathers were extraordinary, not just for their political or military successes, but for their wisdom and morality. And when it comes to wisdom and morality, most founding fathers were, at best, mediocre, and sometimes much worse.

This cartoon is less about Jefferson, than it is about how ridiculous it is that anyone today venerates Jefferson for wisdom or morality.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels.

PANEL 1

Two children, a boy with huge glasses and a backpack, and a girl with her hair in a puff pony and wearing a colorful striped shirt, are in a park full of lush greenery. They’ve stopped by a wooden park bench; seated on the bench, wearing an early-1800s style suit and a peruke (which is what the white wigs most founding fathers wore were called), is the ghost of Thomas Jefferson. We know he’s a ghost because he’s a glowing pale blue color, he’s a little transparent, and he sort of twirls out of existence below the waist rather than having legs.

The boy and girl look enthusiastic; Jefferson seems quietly flattered.

BOY: It’s the ghost of Thomas Jefferson!

GIRL: The founding fathers were moral and intellectual giants! Share your wisdom with us, President Jefferson?

JEFFERSON: Very well.

PANEL 2

A close-up of Jefferson. He looks a little wide-eyed and intense, and his gesturing with his hands to emphasize his points.

JEFFERSON: To get rich, run a nail factory, and whip workers who make less than 5,000 nails a day. Children too!

JEFFERSON: And as I told my friends, invest every dollar you have in slaves!

PANEL 3

Another one-shot of Jefferson. He’s now looking more thoughtful, smiling a little with a finger pressed against his chin.

JEFFERSON: Orangutans are more attracted to black women than to other orangutans. That’s just science!

JEFFERSON: Let’s see, what other founder wisdom can I share?

PANEL 4

A shot of the three of them. The two kids look pissed; Jefferson concedes cheerfully.

GIRL: Actually, we’ve changed our minds about caring what you thought.

JEFFERSON: Solid choice! I was a slave-owning rapist asshat.


This cartoon on Patreon.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues | 1 Comment  

Cartoon: Democracy is Burning


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This is a very depressing cartoon – but it’s a thought that has been pressing down on me, and I’m sure on many of us.

Between the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act, extreme gerrymandering favoring Republicans, the electoral college, voter suppression laws and – perhaps most frightening – new laws allowing Republican legislatures to take charge of election administration – it seems plausible that we’re about to be stuck with a permanent Republican government that will have no need to win a majority of the vote to stay in power.

The proposed For The People Act would mend a lot of that. But Republicans will filibuster any proposal that puts fair elections above GOP power – and two Democratic Senators are implacably opposed to removing the filibuster. Due to the current slim margins in the Senate, those two Democrat senators (along with all the Republican senators) are effectively vetoing any attempt to protect voting rights.

I don’t see any way this ends well.

My only comfort – and I know I’ve said this to you before – is that unexpected things can happen. Just because I don’t see any way for this to end well, doesn’t mean it can’t end well. No one saw the fall of the Berlin Wall coming. Lots of people, myself included, were confident Donald Trump would lose the 2016 election. Maybe voting rights will be unexpectedly rescued. It could happen.

But in the meanwhile, I feel like the characters in this cartoon, watching our approaching  and not being able to think of anything to be done about it.

(I’m sorry to be a bummer.)


Despite it being so depressing, I had a wonderful time drawing this comic. I don’t know if this is the first time I’ve done a cartoon featuring anthropomorphic characters, but it certainly won’t be the last – drawing furry characters is too much fun.

I also had a great time coloring. The dramatic palette, almost entirely blues with just a few warm spot colors, was a joy to work with. And I think the results look good.


A special thank you, this week, to long-time Patreon supporter Hannah Bowton, who is also thanked in the sidebar of the cartoon. Hannah, if you’d like a print signed to you of this cartoon (or really any cartoon), get in touch and like Captain Pickard’s crew we will make it so.

Stay well, everyone! I’ll be back soon with a new cartoon.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels. All six panels show the same two women on top of an unrealistically round and even hill. One woman is drawn as an anthropomorphic dog; she’s sitting in a reclined lawn chair, wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a t-shirt with an exclamation point design. The other woman is drawn as an anthropomorphic cat. She’s wearing a vest over a polka-dotted shirt, a dark calf-length skirt, and black socks or stockings.

The comic is colored mostly in dim shades of blue, indicating dusk or nighttime.

PANEL 1

Cat and Dog are looking out at the horizon. There’s an orange-yellow glow all along the horizon.

CAT: What’s that glow on the horizon?

DOG: It’s voting rights burning.

PANEL 2

They both continue staring at the distant horizon. The cat crosses her arms and looks angry.

DOG: The fire will rush over us and burn everything down pretty soon.

CAT: That’s horrible! Can’t the Democrats stop it?

PANEL 3

A more distant shot shows us a landscape of unrealistically steep, round hills. Cat puts a hand on her face, flabbergasted. The dog seems emotionally withdrawn or numb (as she’s looked all along).

DOG: They could… Except Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema decided we’re not going to.

CAT: But… How can they do that?

DOG: The rules say they can.

PANEL 4

The cat yells, looking panicked. The dog, still calm, looks at the cat out of the corner of her eye.

CAT: We can’t just stand here while democracy burns! We have to DO SOMETHING!

DOG: Yes, but– What can we do, specifically?

PANEL 5

A closer shot of the cat as she concentrates, a hand on her chin.

CAT: Well, we can… I mean, could we… Maybe if we…

CAT: Um…

PANEL 6

A distant shot from behind the two of them, so we are seeing them, and beyond them, the orange glowing horizon. The cat slumps a bit, looking at the ground.

CAT: Well… Fuck.

DOG: That sums it up.


This cartoon on Patreon.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Elections and politics | 9 Comments  

Check Out Apex Magazine’s Issue 125

Terra stands alone in the middle of the room, staring at nothing. She moves sometimes like someone dreaming, but never reacts.

My poor sister, locked in her own world.

Apex Mag Issue 125 CoverExcited to be back in Apex Magazine‘s table of contents with a surreal mystery about a sister’s struggle to wake her twin from a dream world

“Wake Up, I Miss You” won’t be freely available to read online until September 29, but if you can’t wait that long, Issue 125 is already available for purchase!

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Article: The Other Afghan Women

The Other Afghan Women | The New Yorker

Just read a long-form article in the New Yorker, about the war in Afghanistan – what locals call “the American war” – from the perspective of a rural woman. The article is excellent – probably the best I’ll read this year – but absolutely devastating. Content warning for everything you’d expect, including many deaths, including of children.

Dado went even further. In March, 2003, U.S. soldiers visited Sangin’s governor—Dado’s brother—to discuss refurbishing a school and a health clinic. Upon leaving, their convoy came under fire, and Staff Sergeant Jacob Frazier and Sergeant Orlando Morales became the first American combat fatalities in Helmand. U.S. personnel suspected that the culprit was not the Taliban but Dado—a suspicion confirmed to me by one of the warlord’s former commanders, who said that his boss had engineered the attack to keep the Americans reliant on him. Nonetheless, when Dado’s forces claimed to have nabbed the true assassin—an ex-Taliban conscript named Mullah Jalil—the Americans dispatched Jalil to Guantánamo. Unaccountably, this happened despite the fact that, according to Jalil’s classified Guantánamo file, U.S. officials knew that Jalil had been fingered merely to “cover for” the fact that Dado’s forces had been “involved with the ambush.”

The incident didn’t affect Dado’s relationship with U.S. Special Forces, who deemed him too valuable in serving up “terrorists.” […]

The “terrorists” were essentially any men – completely innocent men included – our allies could grab and turn over to the US in exchange for a bounty.

In 2004, the U.N. launched a program to disarm pro-government militias. A Ninety-third commander learned of the plan and rebranded a segment of the militia as a “private-security company” under contract with the Americans, enabling roughly a third of the Division’s fighters to remain armed. Another third kept their weapons by signing a contract with a Texas-based firm to protect road-paving crews. (When the Karzai government replaced these private guards with police, the Ninety-third’s leader engineered a hit that killed fifteen policemen, and then recovered the contract.) The remaining third of the Division, finding themselves subjected to extortion threats from their former colleagues, absconded with their weapons and joined the Taliban. […]

It was now 2005, four years after the American invasion, and Shakira had a third child on the way. Her domestic duties consumed her—“morning to night, I was working and sweating”—but when she paused from stoking the tandoor or pruning the peach trees she realized that she’d lost the sense of promise she’d once felt. Nearly every week, she heard of another young man being spirited away by the Americans or the militias. Her husband was unemployed, and recently he’d begun smoking opium. Their marriage soured. An air of mistrust settled onto the house, matching the village’s grim mood.

So when a Taliban convoy rolled into Pan Killay, with black-turbanned men hoisting tall white flags, she considered the visitors with interest, even forgiveness. This time, she thought, things might be different.

Posted in Afghanistan | Leave a comment  

Open Thread and Link Fram, Mispelled Adition

  1. When Thin is a Trans Requirement | Autostraddle
    “These experiences are rarely given airtime, partly because the few trans people in the public eye are almost universally thin, and partly because fatness and transness together bring a double burden of stigma: they’re both seen as a form of excess & violation of public norms, and they’re both met with community policing and shaming.”
  2. US State Policies, Politics, and Life Expectancy – MONTEZ – 2020 – The Milbank Quarterly – Wiley Online Library
    “Results show that changes in life expectancy during 1970-2014 were associated with changes in state policies on a conservative-liberal continuum, where more liberal policies expand economic regulations and protect marginalized groups. States that implemented more conservative policies were more likely to experience a reduction in life expectancy.”
  3. Afghanistan: 3 Unlearned Lessons – by Nonzero – Nonzero Newsletter
    And a fourth lesson: We really should stop attempting “interventions” like this.
  4. Opinion | Anna Harris of Texas who works with indigent defendants says she was arrested in retaliation for her work – The Washington Post
    Interesting stuff about a “holistic” model of providing legal defenses to people who can’t afford their own, versus the standard model.
  5. Texas has betrayed women – UnHerd
    “Not content to simply outlaw abortion, they have constructed a law that maximises the humiliation, stigma and degradation on any woman who seeks to end a pregnancy. In Texas, every woman’s entire community has been deputised to police her most private choices.”
  6. On Twitter, I discussed why we shouldn’t infer a lot from that study which found that spoilers make readers enjoy stories more.
  7. The Secret Bias Hidden in Mortgage-Approval Algorithms – The Markup
    “Holding 17 different factors steady in a complex statistical analysis of more than two million conventional mortgage applications for home purchases, we found that lenders were 40 percent more likely to turn down Latino applicants for loans, 50 percent more likely to deny Asian/Pacific Islander applicants, and 70 percent more likely to deny Native American applicants than similar White applicants. Lenders were 80 percent more likely to reject Black applicants than similar White applicants. … In every case, the prospective borrowers of color looked almost exactly the same on paper as the White applicants, except for their race.”
  8. How Oslo Achieved Zero Pedestrian and Bicycle Fatalities, and How Others Can Apply What Worked | TheCityFix
  9. Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue – Scientific American
    Good article from 2016; unfortunately, I don’t think much has changed since then. “Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning. And yet, you might still open a study on genetics in a major scientific journal and find categories like “white” and “black” being used as biological variables.”
  10. Human races are not like dog breeds: refuting a racist analogy
    “But because the analogy between races and dog breeds incorrectly privileges biology over the social and historical factors that have led to the development of racial constructs, here we demonstrate how genetic data fails to substantiate the racial categorizations used in the U.S. today and their equivalence to dog breeds.”
  11. Will the Child Tax Credit End Traditional Welfare? – The Atlantic
    The headline should replace “end” with “replace,” and “traditional welfare” with “TANF.” And, I doubt it will, but I wish it would.
  12. Don’t Believe the Hype (About Believing): You Don’t Need Religion to be Happy | Religion Dispatches
  13. Amia Srinivasan · Does anyone have the right to sex? · LRB 22 March 2018
    “The question​, then, is how to dwell in the ambivalent place where we acknowledge that no one is obligated to desire anyone else, that no one has a right to be desired, but also that who is desired and who isn’t is a political question, a question usually answered by more general patterns of domination and exclusion.”
  14. The Ides of August
    A persuasive essay about what happened in Afghanistan. “I and too many other people to count spent years of our lives trying to convince U.S. decision-makers that Afghans could not be expected to take risks on behalf of a government that was as hostile to their interests as the Taliban were.”
  15. ‘For me, this is paradise’: life in the Spanish city that banned cars | Cities | The Guardian
    “On the same streets where 30 people died in traffic accidents from 1996 to 2006, only three died in the subsequent 10 years, and none since 2009. CO2 emissions are down 70%, nearly three-quarters of what were car journeys are now made on foot or by bicycle, and, while other towns in the region are shrinking, central Pontevedra has gained 12,000 new inhabitants.”
  16. To survive, China’s biggest gay dating app became a pharmacy – Rest of World
    “It’s trying to make sure the state will not mistake it as a gay activist organization,” said Chan. “It must, in order to survive.” The app was founded by a gay cop who was forced to resign after he was outed.
  17. Podcase recommendation: Dead Eyes.
    Somewhere within the show, Connor Ratliff describes his podcast as being a lot like “Serial,” if the mystery were about something of no importance whatsoever. In this case, Ratliff – an actor – “embarks upon a quest to solve a very stupid mystery that has haunted him for two decades: why Tom Hanks fired him from a small role in the 2001 HBO mini-series, Band Of Brothers.” I’ve listened to the whole first season now, and it’s surprisingly entertaining.
  18. What podcasts are y’all enjoying? I’m particularly interested in non-political podcast recommendations.

Top image: Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
Bottom image: Photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash

Posted in Link farms | 19 Comments  

Let’s Ban Handguns. (How Democratic State Legislators Should Respond To The Supreme Court’s Decision On The Texas Abortion Ban)

Texas’ abortion ban has a novel enforcement mechanism:

Usually, a lawsuit seeking to block a law because it is unconstitutional would name state officials as defendants. However, the Texas law, which makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape, bars state officials from enforcing it and instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.

The patient may not be sued, but doctors, staff members at clinics, counselors, people who help pay for the procedure, and even an Uber driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic are all potential defendants. Plaintiffs, who do not need to live in Texas, have any connection to the abortion or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win. Prevailing defendants are not entitled to legal fees.

The Supreme Court hasn’t yet ruled on the constitutionality of this law. But the conservative justices (minus Roberts) ruled that, while we await a ruling, no injunction against this enforcement mechanism is possible.

So maybe the Texas law will eventually be found unconstitutional (which it is, blatantly) – but in the months or years it’ll take for that to happen, abortion providers in Texas will be driven out of business, and many Texans will suffer enforced childbirth.

Okay, then.

Here’s how I’d like to see Democratically-controlled states respond.

Democratic states should ban all privately-owned handguns, with the enforcement mechanisms taken word for word from Texas’ abortion ban.

A private handgun ban would be blatantly unconstitutional under D.C. vs Heller, but the Supreme Court has ruled that the civilian-vigilante style of enforcement would make the ban immune to injunction while the inevitable lawsuit proceeds.

Throw in an assault rifle (broadly defined) ban, a high-capacity magazine ban, and trigger locks requirements for all firearms.

Actually, why stop at banning guns? Let’s have a $10,000 bounty for unvaccinated adults.

Sure, it’s probably unconstitutional, but with no injunction possible, we could force a lot of people to turn in their guns and get vaccinated before there’s a final ruling. A lot of gun dealers might be forced out of business, too.

Seriously. If they want laws enforced by citizens going after $10,000 bounties, let’s give them what they want.

Posted in Abortion & reproductive rights, Supreme Court Issues | 41 Comments  

Haiku Roundup for August 2021

I posted this a few years ago, but I think it’s worth posting again.

A while back, during a phase when I was having trouble writing fiction, a friend of mine showed me a haiku they’d been working on. I couldn’t manage something like a whole story, but writing seventeen syllables of poetry came easily, and felt right. 

These poems are only sort of traditional haiku. For one thing, I used English syllables instead of trying to adapt English words to Japanese morae which are similar to syllables, but not the same. I did use a seasonal reference in the first line of each, but they aren’t necessarily the kind of seasonal imagery that would have been used in a traditional poem. Also, I talked a lot more directly about what I was feeling, instead of using the metaphors to convey it.

However, I did try to convey my thoughts as I experienced them in that transient moment. I also tried not to revise, to just let them be as they were. (I think I cheated a couple of times, though.)  

These haikus aren’t necessarily in order, and they’re from a bit ago, so they won’t match up with the current weather, but I hope the words mean something to you.

 

Light through naked trees.
My dreams were not peaceful, and
I just want to sleep.

In night’s deep belly,
midnight is a great crevasse,
dark but sheltering.

Pet me, please. Now, please.
Stop tapping on that machine.
I’m here; I love you.

Evening starts at three.
I have a day’s work to do
in the waning light.

The twilight sky bleeds
to deeper and deeper shades
of thoughtful Winter.

Half-naked branches,
black, with yellow flags waving
gently in the wind.

Bitter, windy, dark,
clattering cold strikes the rain,
sharp, overwhelming.

Hasten through the cold,
the wind pushing you backward.
The windows are bright.

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Doing Too Little vs Helping Too Many


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This month’s collab with Becky Hawkins has more of Becky in it than usual, I think.

This cartoon originated in a remark Becky made, that most safety net debates seem to boil down to doing too little versus helping too many. What Becky said stuck in my head, and I came back to her with this cartoon script.

Of course, in the real world, the same person is seldom taking both parts of the argument. But I think of the blonde woman in this strip as representing the split and contrary nature of the American political system as a whole.

This is an issue area I’ve done cartoons about before, and I’m sure I’ll come back to it again. Americans have a fear of giving money to the wrong people (and it’s not very well hidden that “wrong” often means “brown”) that continually hinders us from becoming a compassionate society.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. All four panels show the same two people. A redhead wearing thick glasses and a green jacket over a checkboard sweater – let’s face it, they look like a nerd – is sitting at a desk, with a stack of papers on the desk. (I’m a nerd, so I’m allowed to say that.) Standing next to the desk is a blonde woman with a blue dress and a matching blue necklace.

PANEL 1

Redhead gestures towards the stack of papers, smiling. Necklace leans over to look at the papers, raising an eyebrow.

REDHEAD: Check this out! I’ve created a proposal for better welfare benefits.

NECKLACE: Hmmm…

PANEL 2

Necklace points to something on the papers, looking a little annoyed.  Redhead is concerned by what she’s saying.

NECKLACE: But this plan leaves so many people out.

PANEL 3

Redhead leans back over the papers, writing rapidly with a pen. Necklace leans over, hand on chin, as she looks at what Redhead’s writing.

REDHEAD: Good point… Here, let me just fix some things…

PANEL 4

Redhead, looking proud, holds up a paper to display to Necklace. Necklace angrily yells, throwing papers into the air.

REDHEAD: Okay, how’s this?

NECKLACE: NOW YOUR PLAN HELPS PEOPLE WHO DON’T DESERVE IT!


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 10 Comments  

Cartoon: Maternity Leave: The Enemy of Freedom! And Lions!


Another collaboration with Kevin Moore! You can see more cartoons by Kevin and I here.


If you like these cartoons, why not support them on Patreon? It’s because of lots of patrons pledging $1 or $2 that I get paid – and then I can pay Kevin in turn. And I think Kevin supports my patreon, too? And come to think of it, I support his. It’s like a virtuous cycle of small amounts of money moving around in circles.


We’ve been seeing more Kevin around here lately because I love Kevin’s style; it’s expressive, grotesque and a little old-school in a way that reminds me of the better “Mad Magazine” artists.

Normally, on these collaborations, I do the lettering and draw the word balloons. Kevin chose to do all that himself, this time. I don’t think most readers will notice – good lettering should mostly go unnoticed – but to my eye the lettering looks hugely different on this one.


This cartoon is about maternity leave, which should be the easiest, least controversial issue in the world – of course people should have maternity leave.  We need maternity leave just to make the world a bit fairer to people having children.

But it’s also really good for everyone. Because all of us, even childless folk like me, need there to be children so there can be a next generation to grow up and support my Patreon.

(And also keeping society running generally. I suppose that matters too.)

But this cartoon is also about the sky-is-falling overreactions we always see for anything that regulates business or benefits workers, no matter how sensible. Soccer players have learned to play the refs by faking agonizing injuries if a player from the other team so much as gently bumps them. Corporations have learned a similar strategy. Absolutely everything is, in the rhetoric of corporations and their apologists, an existential threat to business.

(Geez, if capitalistic businesses are that frail and tenuous, maybe we need a more robust alternative?)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. All four are set in a mall; we can see a hot dog place, and in the background is a mall kiosk with a sign that says “Kitsch Empire.” There are three characters: A male executive in a suit and necktie, and two pregnant workers, both dressed in food court uniforms (but different uniforms, so presumably they work for different food outlets). One of the workers has a nametag, and the other has a ridiculous tall chef’s hat striped in the same tacky colors as the sign for the hot dog place.

PANEL 1

The executive has his back to the workers, but is turning back to bark at them.

NECKTIE: Maternity leave? Why do you people hate liberty?

SILLY HAT: What?

PANEL 2

Necktie now has a hurt expression on his face. Nametag replies with a skeptical expression.

NECKTIE: When you force a corporation to give maternity leave, you take away its freedom!

NAMETAG: But what about our freedom to…

PANEL 3

A close up of Necktie, who is now wailing like an infant, crying and balling his fists.

NECKTIE (yelling): Would you clip the soaring eagle’s wings? Would you gag the might lion’s roar?

PANEL 4

Necktie, still sobbing, has dropped to his knees and is hugging Nametag around her legs. Nametag pulls back, taken aback. Silly hat holds up a hand to whisper a comment to Nametag.

NECKTIE: SOB! Just let business be free! Waaaaah!

SILLY HAT: And they call us needy.


This cartoon on Patreon.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc | 14 Comments  

Cartoon: Conservatives, 1988-Present


I can keep drawing these cartoons because a bunch of people support my patreon, mostly at $1 or $2 levels, which I think is really cool. Join us!


The nice thing (and also the sad thing) about this cartoon is it’ll always be current; I just need to keep replacing the words “critical race theory” in the last panel with with each new scare du jour.

(This is something I do regularly – if just changing a few words will keep a cartoon current, I’ll do it! I just did with this cartoon this morning).

I remember first hearing the phrase “political correctness” in the late 1980s. At first it was a tongue-in-cheek term lefties used to make fun of our more over-the-top comrades, and of ourselves. But the right grabbed on to it and it became the menace that’s taking over the youth. Paul Campos writes:

In the 1970s and 1980s, [the phrase “political correctness”] was used by New Left people in an almost invariably ironic way, usually to signal disdain for leftist orthodoxy of some sort (“I know it’s not very politically correct, but I’m ordering a hamburger”).

Revealingly, Allan Bloom’s THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND (1987), which was without a doubt the ur-text for what would very soon become the ubiquitous right-wing critique of American higher education as a veritable viper’s nest of Orwellian indoctrination into leftist orthodoxy, does not contain the phrase.

Just four years later, the phrase was everywhere.  An October 1990 New York Times article by Richard Bernstein is generally credited for being the journalistic Ground Zero for what in short order became a full-blown moral panic about What Those College Professors Are Doing To Our Kids.

A few weeks later Newsweek, still a very important conduit of conventional wisdom to middlebrow America at the time, followed up with a cover story, and we were off to the races. (A NEXIS database search reveals 70 uses of the phrase in 1990, more than 1500 in 1991, and more than 7000 three years later).

In more recent years, the right hasn’t switched up their strategy at all – but it feels like they’re switching their terminology much more often.  (Probably social media has sped up their pace.) The phrases they use don’t need to make any sense (the right-wing definition of “critical race theory” is far more all-encompassing than the academic movement of the same name), as long as it can feed the panic.

Which isn’t to deny that some lefties – like some righties – are overzealous, too quick to judgement, and too unforgiving. Nor is it to deny that some people have suffered unjust consequences, like David Shor losing his job.  (Although Shor’s story is the exception, not the rule).

Is there a problem on the left of some people being too dogmatic and lacking in mercy or a sense of proportion? And that sometimes manifests in angry people on the internet overreacting and people getting fired?

Yes.

Is this anything that hasn’t been going on since at least the 1980s? No.

Is this at all unique to the left? Nope, the right does it too – and is constantly given a pass.

Is the level of panic we’ve seen about this both partisan and wildly disproportionate? Yes.

But I think creating that panic is beneficial to the right.

Christopher Rufo, the right-wing polemicist who has, more than anyone, been responsible for the current flavor of right-wing panic being “critical race theory,” forthrightly admits it’s a tactic:

We have successfully frozen their brand—”critical race theory”—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.

And it’s a tactic they’ll keep on using, even if they have to change their term every month.


This strip was so much fun to draw! Six panels of nothing but cartoony panic. The main challenge is making sure every panel looks different.

The strip was also drawn completely in Clip Studio Paint. After decades of drawing in Photoshop, this is a big change for me, but I keep being more and more impressed by the functions CSP has that make drawing comics easier. I realize that this isn’t relevant for 99% of the folks reading this, but if you’re a cartoonist who draws digitally, give it a try – it’s worth the learning curve.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels. Each panel shows a different character or collection of characters. All characters shown are white.

PANEL 1

An extreme closeup of a white person who, seen from this close, could be any gender. They are screaming, spittle flying from their mouth.

PERSON: Look out! Political Correctness is coming!

PANEL 2

A woman is running on a desolate hillside, screaming in panic.

WOMAN: It’s the Social Justice Warriors! Flee! Flee!

PANEL 3

A bald man in a short-sleeved collared shirt with a reddish necktie is waving his arms around in the air and yelling at the reader. Despite being bald, he has very long eyebrows that stick out in a few directions (and I honestly have no idea what I was thinking when I drew those eyebrows!).

MAN: Cultural Marxism is here!

PANEL 4

A woman lifts her face to the sky, hands on her cheeks, yelling in panic. She’s wearing a long skirt with a pattern of stars, a collared shirt, and a reddish vest.

WOMAN: The Woke will destroy us all!

PANEL 5

We see three people. Far away from us, on a rocky hill, a person seen only in silhouette is yelling.  In the middle ground, a terrified looking person with shoulder-length hair is looking towards us. And in the close foreground – so close that half his head is missing – a man with huge bulging eyes and a big open mouth is staring at the reader.

SILHOUETTE PERSON: Run! It’s Cancel Cultue!

PANEL 6

An older man, with white hair and a white beard is yelling at the reader, his mouth huge. He’s wearing a brown-and-red-checkered shirt and yanking his own hair with both hands.

MAN: Critical Race Theory! Nooooooooooo


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Posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc. | 6 Comments