Comic Strip of the Day: Covering Decency

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Clay Jones)


(Jeff Koterba)

As noted elsewhere on the Daily Cartoonist, newspapers are standing up to the forces of repression this Thursday, and Clay Jones is backing a client with the above cartoon.

Meanwhile, Jeff Koterba’s Omaha World-Herald is a bit ahead of the movement with an editorial marking its 133 birthday with a declaration of belief in press freedom.

I hope other cartoonists join in the effort and that, however they get their work out to syndicates and hence to papers, they’ll jump on it more or less right now, so that papers without an artist of their own will be able to bolster their Thursday editorials with a graphic reminder.

Commentators now a-bed shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, and hold their journalism degrees cheap whiles any speaks that fought for press freedom on this day.


Meanwhile, as noted by Signe Wilkinson, there is a story demanding to be covered, and commented upon, in the colossal fizzle of the white supremacy rally this past weekend.

What if they gave a race war and nobody came?

Perhaps the horror of last year’s outrageous event has wised up a lot of hangers-on and there simply aren’t that many hard-core racists.

Ya think?

Mike Marland doesn’t, and, while I don’t know about the numbers he speculates over, I certainly agree that racism is alive and well and living in America, both in the overt and subconscious forms.

I guess his count depends on whether he means hundreds of thousands who might otherwise have shown up and marched — which seems high — or hundreds of thousands among 326 million Americans who feel that way, which seems absurdly low.

I wish I felt otherwise.

Anne Frank famously said

 In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

People cite the first part of that quote a great deal more often than they include the whole thing, and their editing makes her seem pretty cheerfully optimistic.

Well, optimism doesn’t have to be cheerful, and, if you don’t have some kind of faith in the world, there’s not much point in going on.

Stephen Dedalus was an optimist, if you look very, very closely, but nobody would call him cheerful:

April 26. Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

Earlier, in a conversation with his pal Cranly, he was more specific in his insistence on finding a replacement for the kind of cheerful, submissive optimism that goes along unquestioningly with whatever is offered:

I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use—silence, exile and cunning.


Matt Wuerker poses a challenge to that combination of self-expression and silence, because, while commentators and cartoonists can opine all they want, news reporting is an art in which the piece must speak for itself.

It begins with the old bromide that, if a dog bites a man, that’s not news, while, if a man bites a dog, it is.

So that, if fascism in America is unusual, it’s news.

It’s a worthy challenge, a good cartoon, and an excellent catalyst for conversation.

My instinct is to agree with Marland that the racists you see represent many that you don’t, and I say that as someone who met his first birther at an American Legion post before Obama’s second term had begun.

He seemed a solitary nutcase at the time, but turned out to represent enough Deplorables to eventually bring us to where we are.

You must cover fascists and racists just as you would cover a fire, a plane wreck or a Congressman who gets caught cheating on Wall Street.  When they’re no longer news, we’ll have lost the war.

On the other hand, while decent people may not be “news,” their efforts to counter the Deplorables are, and I’d hate to see them ignored, or covered only in terms of the small number of antifa extremists among them.

I told my landlady that the sign they’d put in our front yard speaks for the back of the house as well, and she said she’d seen it elsewhere and searched to find one.


Meanwhile, the Congregational Church down the street has had this banner up for months.

I’ll admit that I don’t know how you cover this mass of small, daily, personal pushbacks against hate and despair.

But the coverage of Sunday’s demonstrations I saw was clear in reporting that two dozen racists turned out and were opposed by an overwhelmingly large crowd of decent folks.

I’ve also seen coverage of the Parkland kids and their voter registration drive, and, when Lebron James announced his contributions to local schools and offer of college tuition, I saw coverage of the pushback against the contemptible hatemonger who attacked him for it.

Decency is not news, but it makes a nice feature story.

Meanwhile, ringing an alarm bell is good and necessary journalism.

Oh, the places we’ve been.


3 thoughts on “Comic Strip of the Day: Covering Decency

  1. My father is a birther who voted for Trump. The last time I saw him, he tried to give me a book of daily bible verses to contemplate. I did not accept his gift.

    I’m with Marland. Sadly.

  2. Navigation still is a problem.
    Newest blog not on top
    But I come in at the index and go from there.
    And thus miss quite a few: if I miss a day, I miss a day.

  3. I suspect that a number of white supremacists were hesitant to go to the D. C. rally because several of them from last year were identified from the news pictures and then faced job termination or public shaming. I noticed that some that showed up in DC were covering their faces to avoid identification.

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