I expected a certain amount of repetitive imagery on New Years Day, but the phrase “Out with the old, in with the new” hit on a level I haven’t seen since 1977, when the Gong Show did an entire show of people singing “Feelings.”
Well, except that all of those were bad and some of these are good.
John Cole gets the prize for intentionally mocking the phrase, as well as doing the most humorous take on the New Years Baby stepping into a bad situation, which is such an evergreen that it really takes some effort to rise above the crowd.
He also gets some credit for avoiding the “on this hand, but then on that hand” take in which the baby faces a balanced swarm of false equivalences.
Editorial cartooning is a profession where you are supposed to make choices and take sides, and I think the bullying and lies and irresponsible, childish behavior coming from the White House is a good place to take a stand.
Ben Jennings also deserves credit for great “Old Man, New Baby” imagery, and his take isn’t partisan: We’re all guilty.
Jennings is one of those cartoonists whose artwork is so attractive that you have to step back and ask what he’s saying, because there’s an instinct simply to like the picture anyway.
In this case, the image of a chasm is nothing new, but using it in the form of our failing ice cap is, and Jennings not only taps climate change but then fills the water with plastic rubbish to hit on that epic failure, too.
And if you’ve missed DD Degg’s solid coverage of “Best of” collections, you should go back to our main page and catch up.
Meanwhile, Kal Kallaugher issued a year-end wrap up spectacular for the Economist that puts a lot of folly into one big picture, and getting The Big Picture is the responsible way citizens should approach the political world we live in.
Which brings us to Rob Rogers and another “Out with the Old” cartoon, one that is hard to disagree with.
Back in early 90s, when the nitwits at HQ were rushing to give away content but crawling to address the damage of Craig’s List, my concern with on-line news was that people would only see what they were looking for.
There was an advantage in a citizenry that, as they were turning to the sports page in their newspaper, might stumble across a story about breast cancer or Uighers and inadvertently learn something important.
And I opposed free access, but favored a concept that never got off the ground, that of setting up a micropayment system where I might put $20 a month into a fund which would be paid out in small payments for whoever’s particular stories I accessed, rather than forcing me to subscribe to particular sites.
Voices more important than mine agreed, but voices more powerful than theirs ignored the advice and here we are. (Paul Berge has some interesting reflections on the topic.)
What I hadn’t anticipated — getting to Rogers’ point — was that propagandists would take advantage of the free access and lack of gatekeepers to flood the Internet with deceptive garbage and outright lies.
It’s not popular to suggest that we need gatekeepers, but it should have been a tip-off when, in those early days, the folklore site that became Snopes had to repeatedly explain that neither Neiman-Marcus nor Mrs. Fields were selling their cookie recipes.
The idea that Snopes would straighten that out proved so naive that we should have anticipated the more toxic, purpose-driven flood of falsehoods that would follow.
Oh, Professor Lounsbury, you barely sighted the tip of that massive iceberg.
Which brings us to a particularly toxic
Juxtaposition of the Day
It seems that our willingness to believe that Mrs. Fields is ripping people off over a cookie recipe and that NASA faked the Moon landing is only the tiniest edge of our eagerness to believe that whatever is wrong in the world is Somebody Else’s Fault.
And while hawkish politicians can help advance their warmongering ambitions by promoting Islamophobia, there’s really nothing so easy for people to grasp as the old favorite of blaming the Jews.
Breen is right: This is indeed an oldie, and one that should have been cast out long ago.
It wasn’t so many years ago that we were awash in praise of The Greatest Generation and their victory over the evil Nazis.
Now we’ve got substantial Internet chatter that seems to gloss over Hitler and completely ignore Stalin and the Iron Curtain.
Nor is it simply the Internet, nor is it simply Russian propaganda seeking to divide our nation: We’ve got a president who fails to condemn Antisemitism and even hires white supremacists as advisers, and who buddies up to Russia at the expense of our allies.
Now, to take on Mike Thompson’s cartoon, it only takes one demented jackass to spray paint a swastika, and, more horrifically, to murder people he deems to be the Someone Else he blames for his own misery.
But, then again, it is only recently that such people felt secure in climbing out from under their rocks.
While, as Nick Anderson notes, Dear Leader is willing to break the law in order to discourage people from speaking up when they see something wrong.
When we demonize those with which we disagree, that target can be seen as metaphorical — losing your job or being harassed on-line — but it can also be seen as literal.
If war criminals can be pardoned and hailed as heroes, why not literally target “disloyal” people who derail the policies of our government?
And I wish Gary Varvel were right, but the one mass killing that was prevented this past week would have only pushed the number of mass killings in 2019 to 42, 41 being a record since the category was tracked.
We may want to seek a more effective solution in the coming year.