This cartoon was drawn by Becky Hawkins! See if you can spot the little details she sneaked in (answers at the bottom).
“There are crackpots on the left, too!” is a pretty common sentiment – one of the many false equivalents that seem to dominate the country’s political discourse. And it always annoys me because, yes, there are some people with ludicrous, conspiracy theory ideas on the left – but Democrats aren’t electing any of those people President.
Power matters. Even most professors have virtually no power compared to a President, a Congress member, or even someone like Tucker Carlson. But believing in ridiculous conspiracy theories is not only no barrier to success on the right – it’s practically required.
Last month, Trump endorsed the theory that the January 6th riot was a false flag:
Trump concurred with alarmist extraordinaire Candace Owens during her radio show that the riot may have been a false flag operation, citing the “reporting” done by acclaimed journalists Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan. “Right, it seems like that,” Trump affirmed. “And you have BLM and you had antifa people. I have very little doubt about that and they were antagonizing and they were agitating.”
This sort of thing is nothing new for Trump, who first rose to political prominence by promoting birtherism.
And Trump doesn’t stand alone. At least two elected GOP members of Congress support QAnon.
Greene and Boebert were among at least a dozen Republican congressional candidates who had endorsed or given credence to QAnon’s unfounded belief that Trump is the last line of defense against a cabal of child-molesting Democrats who seek to dominate world power.
Belief in other conspiracy theories – that Biden stole the election, that climate change is a hoax, etc. – is common among Republicans, including elected Republicans.
There are tens of millions of Democrats, and of Republicans, in the USA. With numbers that large, of course there will always be some people believing in ridiculous and impossible theories. But in a healthy party, those folks will be at the margins – not in the White House.
I had been playing around with lettering effects and decided to do a strip incorporating fancy lettering into the design. It was perfect for a “comparison” strip like this one, where dividing the strip in two with some enormous lettering makes visual sense.
The danger, of course, is that in a couple of years I might look back on this and wince; computer effects that seem neat and fresh when I use them for the first time often seem tacky later on. (So 2025 Barry, who is putting together the 2023/2024 reprint collection: What do you think? Let us know.)
I asked Becky where that flag in panel four came from. She replied, “I googled ‘tacky flag.’ …And didn’t feel like drawing the version where the Eagle pulls aside the Stars and Stripes to reveal Jesus with thorns and the words ‘faith over fear.'”
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon is dominated by a large title, going horizontally across the image, which says “CRACKPOTS LEFT vs RIGHT.” The title lettering divides the cartoon in two, with two panels above the lettering, and two panels below it.
A woman with green hair and an undercut is typing furiously on her phone. She’s wearing a black collar with spikes, has a pierced nose, and tattoos. Her face is radiating anger. A word balloon coming from the phone shows what she’s typing.
PHONE: 9/11 was CLEARLY an INSIDE job. Bin Laden WORKED for the CIA! Controlled demolition! Insider trading! HALIBURTON! #911truth #insidejob #wakeup
The same woman turns to talk to someone who is off-panel, her face and demeanor now calm as she looks away from her phone. We can now see that she’s behind the counter in a coffee shop.
OFF-PANEL CUSTOMER: Excuse me, can I get my coffee refilled?
BARISTA: Coming right up!
We are looking at a blonde woman in extreme close-up as she types on her phone. Her face is so angry she looks like she’s about to have an embolism. A word balloon coming from her phone shows us what she’s typing.
PHONE: 1/6 was a FALSE FLAG op jointly run by ANTIFA & the FBI to DISTRACT us from HUNTER BIDEN’S LAPTOP!! #J6files #fakenews #wakeup
The “camera” has pulled back and we can now see that the woman is wearing a conservative blue skirt-suit and matching high heels. She’s in an expensive looking office, leaning back in a large brown leather desk chair, and resting her feet on the desk. She’s talking to an off-panel assistant, and she’s now quite calm and maybe even a little bored.
OFF-CAMERA ASSISTANT: Pardon me, Congresswoman? Time for your FOX interview.
CHICKEN FAT WATCH
“Chicken fat” means easily-overlooked and meaningless details in a cartoon the cartoonists put in, which maybe you (and they) find amusing. In this cartoon, all of the chicken fat was made up by Becky (yay Becky!).
Panel 1: Her tattoos include a Mickey Mouse silhouette with blood spattered across it a la the Watchmen symbol, and a donut shaped like an infinity symbol, which today I learned is a thing.
Panel 2: A chalkboard on the wall in the background says “All Coffee Are Beautiful,” arranged so that if you read the first letters downwards, they spell “ACAB.” Another chalkboard says “Daily Special – Salted Caramel – Pumpkin Spice – White Tears.” The IPAD they use as a register has a “Cool S” symbol on its face. (Today I learned that no one actually knows the origin of that symbol.)
Panel 4: Behind the congresswoman is a variation on the American flag, with a bald eagle in profile in front of the stripes, and a white cross in place of the stars. On her desk is a take-out coffee container with the “don’t tread on me” snake on it, and a coffee mug with “Liberal Tears” written on it.