CSotD: If you have to think about it, you don’t get it

Matt Wuerker sums things up.

I don’t suppose there are very many people who want either of these to be America, because both images suggest that there is a problem, and wouldn’t it be nice if there were not?

But there always is, and the question is whether you repress discontent or hash it out openly, and that’s a fundamental question in any society.

In our particular society, at this particular time, one of the questions is in how large a community democracy — even in an indirect, federalist system — can work?

The Founders had respect for the Iroquois Confederacy and held it as one of the models for their nascent democracy, but the Confederacy had been deeply riven by disagreements over how to align, and whether to align at all, during the Revolution, disagreements that went on to rise again and become disastrous in the War of 1812.

“Consensus” is hard to achieve in a community of any size, and one advantage pre-industrial indigenous communities had was that, if there was a sizable group that objected to a decision, they could leave.

This would be easier out west, where villages were transportable and followed the hunt, than among the eastern tribes that stayed in one place for two decades or so, but even the Europeans had flexibility until the end of the 19th Century, when the Census Bureau and Frederick Jackson Turner announced that “there can hardly be said to be a frontier line.”

We’ve been stuck with each other for more than a century, and whether you resolve conflict with a bludgeon or through debate is a critical question in a constrained society.

Now, 76 years after the Antifa landed at Normandy, we’re testing whether they truly established a “Great America” we can restore or whether that whole civil rights/social security business was a blip on the screen.


Morten Morland lays out the situation, and I suppose the British experience of Cromwell is a good historical basis for noticing when the Bible becomes a weapon rather than a spiritual guide.

From a cartooning perspective, we’ve had far too many depictions of Trump’s photo op, which was adequately addressed within 48 hours and does not need further gilding of the lily.

Ditto with representations of such-and-such kneeling on the neck of such-and-such.

But Morland manages to blend both elements into a more sweeping observation and accusation, and, at this stage, it’s appropriate for him to depict them as part of an ongoing process rather than as stand-alone incidents.


And, almost in answer, another Briton, Dave Brown, suggests that we’re hardly facing a Juggernaut, since, while Trump can stand in the bow shouting orders, his generals are resolutely pulling in the other direction.


Back in this country, John Cole echoes the encouraging resistance within the military establishment, which suggests — but hardly guarantees — that, if it comes to a showdown, the Constitution will prevail.

And it’s not just the openly expressed dissension of those officers, but, for instance, the banning of the Confederate battle flag on Marine Corps bases.


Small-c-conservative cartoonists are also joining in the pushback, with Bob Gorrell offering this salute to the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and the pending re-assignment of its pedestal.


While Michael Ramirez questions whether George Floyd even realized he’d bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, and if it was worth calling the police over. The store owner says it was not.

For those unfamiliar with counterfeiting, $20 are the most popular bill because a $50 or $100 gets more scrutiny, while lower denominations don’t return enough profit.

But a pack of cigarettes costs about $8.40 in Minnesota, which cuts into that profit and suggests Floyd didn’t know it was bad. Someone purposely passing a fake $20 would buy something less expensive, like a soft drink or a candy bar.

(Leaving aside the economic/philosophical question over whether, once a bill is in the general flow, it matters whether it was printed by the US Mint or Joe Shlabotnik.)

Meanwhile, as the old song put it, Dear Leader, “whether you can hear it or not, the universe is laughing behind your back.”


(Ed Hall)

(Madam & Eve)

And then there’s this historical note:

Following the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Bill Mauldin suggested that Mayor Daley had inadvertently made martyrs — note the crown of thorns — of the demonstrators and thereby given them a sympathy vote that would sway the electorate.


He may have been right that the debacle doomed the Democrats, in part because the disorder gave credence to Nixon’s promise of law and order, but also because the Democrats had rubber-stamped Humphrey, who was seen as Mauldin had depicted him here before the convention.

Given that Democrats had already rejected LBJ, why would they support his puppet?

Perhaps because their other choice was gone.


Jack Ohman remembers what might have been, and wasn’t.

The demonstrations would probably have been called off, if Bobby had remained the likely Democratic nominee as he appeared to be that night at the Ambassador Hotel.

But, as Lenny Bruce observed, “There is only what is. The what-should-be never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is only what is.”

And when I was verifying that quote, I came across what Lenny — who died in 1966 — had said about the 1960 elections:

Give that man a crystal ball.

Still, as I look at Matt Wuerker’s cartoon, I know both sides, both Americas, exist, and I know that it’s foolish to pretend you can make the right hand side dominant simply by wishing it would be.

Then again, I’ve learned that it’s possible to make the left hand side dominate simply by giving up.

It’s a long way to August, but it’s even longer to November.  Keep your eyes on that far distant star.



10 thoughts on “CSotD: If you have to think about it, you don’t get it

  1. The Morland cartoon seems to reference not George Floyd but the more recent incident in Buffalo. Not sure how much coverage this has gotten outside of western NY so:


    Note the “they did nothing wrong” reaction of the union and fellow police. Pushback continues; following the charges there was a large demonstration in support of the suspended officers by police and fire personnel.

  2. I think you’re being way more specific than Morland — the Bible-posing was in DC, the man being knelt on was Minneapolis, the general unleashing of unmarked thugs was DC but is pretty generic for the entire country.

  3. Morland was also including the gentleman who was assaulted by the police in Buffalo. He is dressed as uncle
    No matter what you think of Nixon… he got us OUT
    Of Viet Nam. People tend to forget that.
    And really, honestly, Trump makes Nixon look like a saint.

  4. If black lives matter so much, Why are black people killing each other at a higher rate than any police kills a black or a white kills a black?
    And did you know a police officer is 7 times more likely To the killed by a black person than a black person by a police officer?
    Credibility check.

  5. HL — I’d agree with “also” — it’s a fine collection of what we’ve become.

  6. I think Mark Jackson has it right — the Buffalo story was an old white-haired guy given a frontal strong-arm shove by police and toppling backward to hit his head.

  7. Ronald Mills: Most murders are among people who know each other. You seem selective in your statistics, which I can’t even find confirmed anywhere, so I don’t find your credibility check credible.

  8. @Ronald Mills

    You should source any statistics provided otherwise no ones going to believe you unless it’s already convenient for their argument.

    But for the sake of argument let’s assume you’re absolutely correct: You’re still missing the forest through the trees. Have you asked yourself why violence in African American communities persists so? The answer some would give was a nebulous “that’s just how it is or how they are.” Your statistics can’t begin to correlate the pattern of systemic bias and racism that put black people into these cycles of crime and victimization that they’ve been in for generations

  9. Imagine believing the statistic Trump posted in 2016. I know the exactly the one, the “Gov’t Bureau” that it was sourced from doesn’t exist. It was phony. Yet he posted it anyway.

  10. Most crime, including violent crime, occurs within racial and ethnic groups. Also, the crime that is most reported in the media happens the least, and vice versa. These are just simple facts, and do not excuse police brutality, which is wrong in any circumstance. I have personally experienced it, as well as the “Blue Wall of Silence,” and it sickens and outrages me to remember it. At least I survived, although I nearly didn’t. Bad cops are the worst form of criminals there are, in my opinion. What happened to George Floyd, and all the others, is the most heinous form of injustice imaginable. I’m just old enough to remember the violence of the ’60’s; I watched the riot at the ’68 Convention in Chicago on live television as a kid, only a short ride from where it happened. I’m not surprised by the violence of today, I’m only surprised it took so long to re-emerge.

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