An animated editorial cartoon by Mark Fiore has the conservative blogosphere buzzing and livid at National Public Radio for posting a cartoon on the opinion section of its website back in early November. The cartoon entitled “Learn to Speak Tea Bag” pokes fun at Tea Party conservatives for using button pushing terms such as “Nazi” and “socialist” in discussion of the Health Care legislation in Washington. The cartoon was published by all of his clients, including NPR, which has conservatives upset that federal money is supporting a “liberal slant.”
Another point of contention is the use of the term “Tea Bag” which has a double sexual meaning. (Google it if you just need to know.) Mark wasn’t the first to use the derogatory term, but conservatives are upset that it is continually used instead of “tea party.”
Here is the video:
Mark is reporting on his blog that he’s getting all kinds of negative emails – even threats on his life.
I say that not because I get some thrill out of receiving emails that are in all capital letters or have more exclamation points than letters in the alphabet, I say that because one of the most important functions of a political cartoon, or political animation, is to foster a discussion. With thousands of comments posted, loads of emails and tweets, discussion was definitely fostered, and then some. It’s the “then some” that worries me.
Of course discussion on the web is not known for its civility, but it finally dawned on me the strangeness of receiving death threats at the same time a crazed Somali extremist tried to kill cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.
Muslim extremist, meet Tea Party extremist. Tea Party extremist, meet Muslim extremist.
To give you a flavor of the public responses on conservative blogs:
This is outrageous.
It’s not only CNN and MSNBC who are attacking ordinary Americans who oppose the democrat’s record spending and massive expansion of government…
National Public Radio is using your taxpayer dollars to bash teabaggers with their latest online video-
Why am I linking?
Because you paid for this — you might as well enjoy the fruits of your labor.
You ponied up good hard cash, that could have gone to your retirement, or a kid’s braces, or a new plasma tv, so that NPR could insult you as stupid and crazy. And a “teabagger.”
NPR — time for them to go.
If there was ever any doubt National Public Radio had a political slant, check out the animated video posted on the network’s Web site. That should clear up any doubt.
To be honest, were it not for we taxpayers being forced to support NPR I wouldn’t have a problem with this. Free speech and all that.
I’VE DEFENDED NPR’S REPORTING BEFORE, but this “Learn To Speak TeaBag” animation is just an embarrassment. It’s not actually an NPR production, if I read things correctly – it’s an animated political cartoon by Mark Fiore – but a lot of people seem to be drawing the conclusion that it represents NPR’s views. If I’m right, and it doesn’t, then NPR might want to make that plain.
Even Bill O’Reilly is talking about how disturbed he is that NPR gets federal funding to post such left wing propaganda and went as far as to call NPR a “left-wing Jihadist deal.”
Here’s that segment of his show:
After all of the above, I find a similarity between the Danish Mohammad cartoons and Mark’s animation. First notice that his cartoon was published on November 12th and it is just now getting people fired up. The Muslim response to the Danish cartoon came three and a half months after it was published when a Muslim cleric brought it to everyone’s attention. In my opinion, Mark’s cartoon isn’t all that inflammatory, neither is the fact that it ran on NPR’s opinion section, but the combination was ripe for an ignitor, in this case a conservative blogger, to fan the flames through the blogosphere.
I would like to think America is much more civil and that publishing one’s response on blogs has a cathartic effect and Mark won’t need to build a safe room in his home.