See All Topics

Home / Section: Comic strips

CSotD: Summoning the Jagoffs

If I were, for some odd reason, ordered to live in a major city, Pittsburgh would be at the top of the list, not because it’s where Rob Rogers produces “Brewed on Grant Street” but because it provides the material that makes it possible.

It’s a bluecollar city, to begin with, but, unlike Chicago, which is a collection of bluecollar neighborhoods, it has a unified culture.

After a dropout year of writing, I came back to college with a Colorado wife, and a pair of my dearest friends dropped by the house.

After they left, my bride, who had been looking forward to meeting these people she’d heard so much about, was almost tearful in confessing that, between their Picksburg accents and the regional slang, she couldn’t understand a thing they’d said.

“Jagoff” would probably be socially unacceptable if it weren’t properly distorted through that combination of impenetrable accent and regional slang, but it’s a mainstream term in Picksburg and Rogers applies it properly here.

 

Walt Handelsman doesn’t have a specific term for the phenomenon, but uses word play to indicate the same thing.

I particularly like his jagoff’s self-satisfied smile: He is not purposefully toxic so much as blissfully unaware not just of the harm he causes but of how easy it would be to belong to the greater society.

There is a segment of the population that doesn’t fit, and I suspect they’ve grown up in homes where they were, if not repeatedly made aware that they didn’t fit, at least never made aware that they could.

I remember one such guy who hand-painted on the back of his jacket “The Lone Wolf” and thinking, even as a youngster looking on, that there is a significant difference between being a “lone wolf” and just not having any friends.

 

Which brings us to Nick Anderson‘s more consciously sociopathic jagoff, who is aware that he’s not part of the greater world but takes some kind of Pee-wee Herman “I meant to do that” defensive pride in it, pretending to have chosen the role of lone wolf instead of being an outcast.

It reminds me of the line from “The Importance of Being Earnest,” which goes “Do not speak ill of society, Algie. Only people who can’t get in do that.”

But in the context of Anderson’s cartoon, it also brings to mind LBJ’s comment

 If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

The Bill Moyers article from which that came is worth reading, and it reminds me of this 1964 Mauldin cartoon about the passage of the Civil Rights Act that I used to use in my presentation to high school students.

The point I made was that, first of all, it was plain that the bedraggled crow could not stand up to Mauldin’s stern eagle.

Second of all, “I’ve decided” is critical to understanding Mauldin’s point — The eagle could have reclaimed his proper place any time he had wanted to.

LBJ expanded on the point in that Moyers article:

When he signed the act, he was euphoric, but late that very night I found him in a melancholy mood as he lay in bed reading the early edition of The Washington Post with headlines celebrating the day. I asked him what was troubling him. “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come,” he said.

I deeply opposed LBJ’s Vietnam policy, but he was right about other things, and this one surely has panned out.

Others at the time were also correct, however, in objecting to the notion that all the white bigots lived in the Deep South, and it wasn’t long before the plan to bus school children in South Boston brought out that city’s jagoffs in large, loud numbers.

Still, in those days of gatekeepers and limited media, the voices of those who would encourage the jagoffs were not given prominent platforms.

 

At one point, we thought the Ross Barnetts and Lester Maddoxes were confined to those benighted, backwards yahoo states, until George Wallace made a run for the presidency and won 46 electoral votes and nearly 14% of the popular vote.

We joked at the time that a Wallace victory would hasten the revolution, and his solid showing did that, only it wasn’t the revolution we’d been hoping for.

Now Bill Bramhall demonstrates what happens when the jagoffs gain power, and it is neither Trump’s power to fulfill his boast of being able to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing votes, nor is it entirely his ability to put a supportive toady into a critical role.

The power, rather, resides in a compliant Congress in which decent people have resigned or fallen silent, allowing the jagoffs to take control of that branch and to enable, rather than to control, a jagoff executive.

 

 

It’s not hard to feed the divisions in our society, and for all that Dear Leader complains about the “mainstream media,” he only means those who do not lean in his direction, and he brands as “hoaxes” any reporting that does not support his policies.

Anderson pokes fun at the parade of lickspittles and liars who have occupied the role of presidential press secretary, but he’s right that this latest spokesmodel scrapes the bottom of the barrel.

Meanwhile, just as yahoo racism was never confined to the South, we now find that yahoo media is no longer the exclusive province of small, eccentric local papers.

 

Steve Kelley explains to Pittsburgh’s jagoffs that declining to prosecute is absolute proof of innocence and that only a well-educated, well-dressed, successful libtard would think otherwise.

Which should clang with their rightwing-instilled opinions of Hillary Clinton but that’s not how jagoffs see the world.

It was never just Mississippi, Phil.

(Yes, it’s been updated several times, but if you need new lyrics,
you didn’t get the point.)

Community Comments

#1 Phil Maish
May/10/2020
@ 9:39 am

Does this Chicagolander’s heart good to hear the term “jagoff” bandied about so liberally, particularly in the present context. Yeah, I said “liberally”. Suck it, nazis.

#2 phil von neupert
May/11/2020
@ 4:34 pm

As a native-born Chicagolander myself, I am also familiar with the aforementioned term. I have also known many people for whom it applies. Dr. King once said something like “the Klan could learn a lot from Chicago.” I moved to Vermont when I started seeing pickup trucks flying Confederate flags driving down my street. Sadly, I also see that here. Bigotry and ignorance are everywhere, people. We can’t run from it, so we must fight it where it exists. Doing so without becoming just like them is the hard part.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.