CSotD: Post-holiday clean-up

I was going to avoid politics today, but I’m not sure this Candorville counts as politics so much as sociology.

Yesterday’s social media postings were full of white folks being shocked and righteously indignant that the original Independence Day didn’t free anyone but them.

It reminded me of my oft-told story of coming away from a police riot in Chicago in ’68 and a carload of young black men waving fists out the window and crying “Now you know! Now you know!”

And now we knew, but we didn’t pass the lesson on very effectively, because here’s our

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Paul Berge)


(Michael Ramirez)

You won’t get this pair on the same page very often, but protesters in Madison, Wisconsin, tore down the statue of a man who not only believed in the abolition of slavery but died for it.

Both Berge and Ramirez suggest that a little more book-larnin’ might be a good thing, and it’s hard to argue, though once the feeding frenzy starts, education alone won’t slow it down.

When a team wins a championship, after all, the people raising hell in the streets don’t check license plates and ownership before they start overturning cars and setting them on fire.

I’m firmly opposed to the Great Man school of history, but there were no fires raging or crowds ranting all those years we politely listened to well-meaning but ignorant people rant about “dead white men.”

It’s unfair for rightwingers to lump all BLM protesters in with the violent fringe nitwits, but this also isn’t the best time to advance arguments about “a few bad apples” instead of speaking up against them, even if they appear to be on your side.

Plus this: Fix what you can, absolutely, but don’t play the white savior. It insults both your forebears and your audience.


On a brighter note

Macanudo happens to offer a sweet reflection on a quote from “Pride and Prejudice” the morning after I ran into a young teacher and her seven-year-old daughter walking their quarantine pup.

She made some reference to P&P and then explained it to her daughter. I don’t remember the context, but it was so normal and conversational that, not for the first time, I thought that her girls are going to be very cool and interesting people, like their folks.

I’d also bet they will be taken to museums and plays and exposed to all sorts of interesting things, not in an effort to educate them but just because bright, curious people pass it on as automatically as they pass on genetic traits.

Which is how Macanudo cartoonist Liniers was raised in Argentina: His parents gave him all the books and magazines he wanted, and he absorbed it all, classics and comics and treasures and junk.

I bristle at both cartoons and amusement park commercials in which going to a museum is portrayed as boring and awful.

Obviously, the amusement parks have a motive. Not sure why cartoonists promote the notion.

Maybe we should tear down their statues.


CSotD goes CSI (Comic Strip Investigation)

In our last exciting episode, I shared this July 4, 1920 cartoon, noting that it was unsigned but was a type of nostalgic feature popular at the time.

It didn’t take long for the comments section to start popping with analysis.

The first suggested Clare Briggs or John McCutcheon, then Paul Berge chimed in offering Harold T. Webster and pointing out an all-but illegible signature in the lower left.


So I went all CSI on it, except while, on the TV show, I’d click-click-click and enhance it to perfect legibility, in real life, this is all I was able to come up with.

McCutcheon wasn’t a bad guess and, as it happens, his son was a cartoonist at the Spokesman Review some years after this panel appeared there.

Others noted that both Briggs and Webster added an underlining to their signatures, and both were known for this kind of cartooning, not that McCutcheon hadn’t also labored in that vineyard.

And I considered Don McKee because his work also appeared in the Spokesman Review, but his style seemed quite different, so I dismissed him.

The tiebreaker came down to this: While bringing city kids out into the country was a universally good idea, the Fresh Air Fund was (and is) centered on New York City, where Clare Briggs not only worked for the Tribune but drew a Fresh Air cartoon each year because he so admired the program.

And a look through some other Briggs cartoons of the same type showed a style that mirrored the boys in that skinny-dipping panel.

Then, as I puffed myself up to make The Big Announcement and prove how wise in the ways of investigation I am, my colleague DD Degg looked over my shoulder by email and said, “Oh, that’s Don McKee” …

… and uploaded his proof, a copy of the panel taken from the Akron Evening Times.

With a link to the Strippers Guide, in which Alan Holtz notes

Associated Newspapers began offering a daily cartoon series penned by Donald McKee in May 1919, but something went awry in September 1920, because the series was abruptly passed along to Nate Collier.

And even added

Collier offered up his take on the Clare Briggs / H.T. Webster style of feature, using various rotating titles.

McKee had to shift his normal style and may not have enjoyed it. He’s better known for this 1914 panel, which I would note was six years before that battery finally got the side out.


And, finally this interesting irrelevancy:

In going to the NY Trib for Clare Briggs references, I discovered this piece Ding Darling had done with Grantland Rice, which is one helluva pairing indeed.

And, as it happens, Berge ran political cartoons from July, 1920, yesterday, including a couple that echoed the Ding/Rice commentary on the impact of urbanization on farm labor.

We tried to reverse it in the Sixties but it turned out to be a lot more work than we had anticipated.


3 thoughts on “CSotD: Post-holiday clean-up

  1. Hey, maybe we should try funding public education!

    Thanks for the detective work. Now I can sleep at night. Only too late did it occur to me that I should have pulled a CSI of my own, and made an ‘enhanced’ version of the sig in Photoshop, saying Winsor McCay or Lyonel Feininger or M.C. Escher, or even something humorous.

  2. Whew. Yeah, I don’t want to make the “few bad apples” argument either, but one instance does not make a pattern. You know, if cops killed one black man, even a black cop or politician, and that was it, that would be tragic, but not cause for protests like we have. Sh*t happens isn’t the same as a pattern of abuse.

    And honestly, maybe we don’t need statues of people. Did this one do any good? Maybe the case here isn’t against people pulling down statues but against statues themselves.

    It’s also a little silly to pick on education. It’s easy to be all high and mighty in hindsight, but having spent five years as teaching support at MIT, the idea that people know everything about everything is just the sort of assenine things old white guys use to put others down while harrumphing when someone actually turns it back on them (or just as often, claiming to be right when they have no idea… AKA modus operandi for 45). When we pick on public education specifically, it comes across as more than a little elitist.

  3. Charles, as noted, I’m not big on the Great Man school of history: We do need people of vision to rise at appropriate moments, but it’s the moments that matter, not who rose to light the spark. If Columbus hadn’t sailed the ocean blue, someone else would have, because it was time.

    (Someone else might have been a better model; the Dutch experience in New York was considerably more enlightened. But we don’t need statues of Henry Hudson everywhere, either.)

    On the educational issue, however, there is no need to know everything. You start out with Socrates and admit you don’t know everything, and that being educated means knowing that you have to check things out before you open your mouth and certainly before you act.

    For anyone living in Madison not to know the basic identity of the man in front of the capitol building — not all the details, but who he was — is unforgivably, defiantly ignorant. If they didn’t learn it in school, they should, at some point, have said to themselves, “Who’s the dude?” and found out.

    “For the correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting — no more — and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth.” — Plutarch

Comments are closed.