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CSotD: A Matter of Privilege

Let’s have the teacher/cartoonist, Mr Fitz, lead off today.

He not only raises an important question but suggests several subtopics.

To start with, a lot of art proceeds from troubled souls, and if you’re going to refuse to study works by unpleasant people, you won’t have a whole lot left to work with. Even those schlocky sad-eyed children paintings have a rotten backstory.

And we can all wring our hands along with Don McLean over Van Gogh’s internal demons, but they weren’t all internal and they weren’t all beautiful, and if you’re going to start casting out artists for their personal failings, you’d take down the paintings by him and his drunken pal Gauguin.

And for god’s sake don’t teach the poetry of Byron. In fact, if your name is Byron, change it.

For that matter, you should probably throw out all the works of Byron, Shelley and Keats, and Mary Shelley as well. They were a pretty salty crew whose personal lives don’t pass muster in a judgmental world.

Or perhaps you should lighten up and focus on those who, like Woody Allen or the Marquis de Sade, make their private foibles the focus of their art.

Which still leaves you in a quandry in cases like Hemingway, who was an egotistical asshole in his private life but whose novel about egotistical assholes going to a fiesta in San Fermin can be read as praise or condemnation or as a more complex rumination on the overall topic.

(Hint: Art is supposed to be a complex rumination.)

As for teaching “gooding,” that’s the point of studying works that raise troubling issues.

We read “Great Expectations” in ninth grade, but focused on the concept of the surprise ending rather than discussing what an ambitious, ungrateful snot Pip had turned into.

What a missed opportunity!

 

Here’s the result when you don’t teach people to analyze what’s put before them: Mike Thompson mocks the response of Republicans to Rep. Tlaib’s colorful language, which she used in a roomful of people who did not get the vapors upon hearing it.

There is, of course, the surface hypocrisy, given that Dear Leader has used that exact expression and other vulgarities in his own speeches, not to small chosen audiences but to large, public groups.

But we expect that kind of blatant hypocrisy from this crew.

There’s a more interesting factor here, which is that the GOP is increasingly playing to a shrinking base, and that the emerging voices in Congress have been sent there by people who do not faint away at strong language, particularly when applied to the right people and issues.

And who bring a perspective that you would think public servants would have learned somewhere along the line, if they had a sincere desire to serve rather than simply an urge to power.

I wish there were a better term than “white privilege” for this lack of empathy, because it’s not a matter of what you have, but, rather, what you are able to ignore, what you have the privilege of not seeing.

Theodore Roosevelt was white, and Protestant, and raised in the lap of luxury, but he never failed to see what was around him, and to empathize and identify with those who had not lived as he had lived. It made him popular, and it made him great.

If you had been taught to see how ugly it is that Pip is ashamed of Joe, and how ironic it is that his good fortune comes from not from a wealthy patron but from lowly hands, perhaps you would open your eyes and ears to a whole world that flows around you, and that resents blind snobbery, and that has been burned so often that it needs to be shown that you want to hear.

It makes me think of what Christopher Titus said about race-based humor:

There are white-people jokes! … And these jokes are haaarsh! I know that, because none of my black friends will tell me any of them. “Come on, just give me one.” “No, man, you don’t want to hear it.” … You know why those jokes are so harsh and so funny? Because they had 400 years to write those jokes.

It also makes me think of the 1930s, when the Writers Project sent journalists out to record the stories of regular people, and the young white college kids who talked to former slaves got nice polite stories, while young black kids like Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston and Gordon Parks collected some very frank, very different narratives.

It comes from the same deep well of class-based resentment and frustration that propelled Trump into the White House, only from people who do not believe that they are one lottery ticket away from success and who understand that there is more holding them down than bad luck.

Well, it’s emerging now, and you motherfuckers better learn how to listen.

 

Mo makes the point in a different way, but with the same warning, which Padraig Pearse phrased as “Beware the thing that is coming, beware the risen people, who will take what ye would not give.”

I only voted for Hillary for Senate because Rick Lazlo was far less likeable, and then for President because Trump was far, far less likeable.

But there’s nothing unlikeable about Warren, or Harris, or Klobuchar, or Duckworth, or any number of other women who speak their minds and take no shit, unless, as Bartender suggests, that’s what you find unlikeable about them.

 

Meanwhile — as Mo does her best Breakfast Club dance in the background — notorious Twitter troll “Gateway Pundit” took another shot at AOC by revealing that (brace yourself) Alexandra went by “Sandy” in college.

Not “Ally.” Not “Lexi.”

“Sandy.”

My God. It’s almost too much to bear.

 

I suppose we should feel some empathy for these poor old guys who, as Michael de Adder says, have been startled by these emerging female politicians and, as a result, have completely lost control of their putz.

Poor babies.

 

Community Comments

#1 Bradley Walker
January/7/2019
@ 12:52 pm

Spaceballs ref!

Dark Helmet tells the doctor to go back to the golf course and work on his putts.

#2 Mike Peterson
January/7/2019
@ 1:53 pm

Actually stolen from SNL Weekend Update — photo of Gerald Ford “lining up his putts.”

But hush — let the youngsters think it’s original.

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