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CSotD: B’rer Trump

It’s probably a mistake to lead off with the funniest editorial cartoon of the day, perhaps the week, perhaps more, but Bill Bramhall knocked me out my chair with this.

There is a load of brilliance in this simple drawing.

Anybody could have drawn Trump with his hand in the cookie jar, and perhaps have brought into it the Aesop’s Fable of the boy and the nuts.

But Bramhall’s vision is more aligned with the Bantu folktale retold in this country as “the Tar Baby,” in which the trickster rabbit’s pride and bad temper lead him into repeatedly trapping himself more and more until he is helpless.

Plus a little classic Pooh, with multiple jars to be caught in.

Beyond the knucklehead position that editorial cartoons should be funny, there is the more nuanced view that, while ridicule is a powerful tool, misplaced humor, and especially misplaced pie-in-the-face humor, diminishes the point of a cartoon.

But it’s not misplaced this time. It’s a simple drawing, but the more I look at it, the more I see and the more I laugh.

Though I suppose we should remember that, in the African and in many tellings of the American version, the rabbit escapes in the end.

In the African version, he begs his foes not to swing him around by his tail, (that “rabbit” having a slightly longer tail than his American cousin). So of course they do, it breaks off and the rabbit escapes, laughing.

In many versions of the American story, B’rer Rabbit begs not to be thrown in the briar patch, and then, when he is, he escapes, triumphant.

But, frankly, I don’t think B’rer Trump is anywhere near that clever, and so I’m going with the original ending as Joel Chandler Harris learned and recorded it.

“Did the fox eat the rabbit?” asked the little boy to whom the story had been told.

“Dat’s all de fur de tale goes,” replied the old man. “He mout, an den agin he moutent. Some say Judge B’ar come ‘long en loosed ‘im—some say he didn’t. I hear Miss Sally callin’. You better run ‘long.”

I doubt Judge B’ar is going to be able to help B’rer Trump this time, but I reckon we’ll have to wait and see.

 

And I’ve often complained about cartoonists misinterpreting “rats leaving a sinking ship” because the original superstition was that rats knew when a ship was doomed and would leave it at dockside, before it set sail.

But Ann Telnaes doesn’t cite that bit of folklore, simply ridiculing Dear Leader going down with the ship will-he-or-nil-he, with his rats sticking by his side to the bitter end.

And what hilariously well-drawn rats they are!

I kind of wish she’d drawn all the rats for the past two years, so we could stare at it for hours, like the cover of Sgt Pepper, picking them out and identifying them one by one … though to be fair, the number of rats still aboard this ship of fools has greatly diminished.

 

And this celebratory festival concludes with Mike Luckovich showing the downside of having such enormous greed and such dainty little hands.

The best part is that most game shows in which the winner gets to grab money in a windy box are smart enough not to get a final count at the end, because it’s exciting to watch but the actual amount of money anyone winds up with is usually unimpressive.

You’d do better to put that home version of the game and the case of Rice-O-Roni on eBay.

But unless Judge B’ar comes along and looses him, that’s just about where I suspect B’rer Trump will end up.

 

On a more serious note

I observed yesterday that the revelations of the extent of Russian trolling in the elections was only a revelation to the willfully ignorant.

Mike Smith goes further, and I agree, though Trump was a willing tool, while people who passed along the insane, divisive garbage from the Russian troll factory did so unwittingly.

Still, there were many, many people warning about the paid trolls, from the earliest days of the primaries, so pleading “ignorance” won’t fly.

You would have to plead “stupidity,” and I don’t think very many people are going to want to do that.

It reminds me of when the Church Committee’s Report was released in 1975, and everyone gasped at the revelations of phone tapping and mail-opening and other Intelligence hijinx aimed at dissenters.

And many of us who had been dismissed and ridiculed for a decade for saying that our mail was being opened and our phones were being tapped felt insulted again by those who now insisted they didn’t know.

Willful ignorance is just as harmful as willful treachery, and there’s little difference between a puppet and a collaborator.

Perhaps none. Burke is alleged to have said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” but that assumes a man can be “good” and yet do nothing.

Our moral foundation is based on a stricter model: When Jesus speaks of a Last Judgment, he doesn’t speak of Sins of Commission but of Sins of Omission, the things we might have done but chose not to.

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

 

 

Community Comments

#1 Jeff Blyth
December/22/2018
@ 12:44 pm

For the record, the B’rer Rabbit stories trace to the American deep south, passed down from slaves who came mostly from West Africa where the stories originated. The tales, first showing up in the Caribbean, are not of B’rer Rabbit but of Bru Anansi, a similar trickster, most often pictured as a spider. There are still folk tales told of Bru Anansi in areas like the U.S. Virgin Islands. You won’t find B’rer Rabbit in Africa.

#2 Mike Peterson
December/22/2018
@ 6:41 pm

“The favorite animal in the Bantu stories is the Hare: there are no rabbits in Africa south of the Sahara, and the Europeans, warned by the calamities of Australia, have refrained from introducing them. Uncle Remus, knowing more about rabbits than hares, has turned him into Brer Rabbit, just as the hyena (who cheats and ill-treats the hare and is finally bested by him) has become Brer Wolf or Brer Fox … this must be because his African forefathers did the same.” — Alice Werner, “Myths and Legends of the Bantu,” 1933.

She’s pretty interesting. Here’s her chapter on Uncle Remus and the stories of the American slaves, which does, of course, mention Anansi.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/mlb/mlb19.htm

#3 Bruce Cooper
December/23/2018
@ 6:53 am

It seems to me President Trump is using his decision on pulling out of Syria and his willingness to shutdown the government as ways to distract from his legal problems. Unfortunately this oft used distraction strategy is working and is harming America and Americans.

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