CSotD: Cognitive Testing

There’s a whole lot of mental insufficiency out there, and this Clay Bennett cartoon was filed well before Chris Wallace’s astonishing, dismaying interview with the president (transcript here, video clips everywhere).

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test is neither an IQ test nor a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory but basically a quick 10-minute test to see if the subject is slipping into dementia.

To boast of having “aced it” is like boasting that, when the doctor hit your knee with his little hammer, your foot jerked right up there, as if that proved you had the reactions needed to play goalie in the NHL.

That’s only a small part of what was astonishing, given that Trump barely answered the initial questions he was asked and totally avoided the follow-ups, like a student who hadn’t read the assignment trying to bullshit the teacher.

The dismaying part is that his posse doesn’t watch Sunday talking heads, and that, if they did, they would feel he was being bullied, not interviewed.

There is some room for compassion, not for Dear Leader, but for his followers, many of whom have been unfairly sidelined and dismissed as stupid most of their lives, both in school and in media depictions.

We’ve come to a point, however, where nobody is content to sit back and be governed by those who have been held up to them as their “betters.”

Take the comical depictions of “Darryl and My Brother Darryl,” the sneering incest-and-homophobia “Deliverance” jokes and the snide Facebook ridicule of oddly dressed Wal-Mart shoppers and imagine that same condescending attitude directed at women and minorities.

Not hard, because it’s happened. How did you respond when it did?

That might lead you to better understand the fury that keeps a lying, cheating charlatan like Donald Trump in power.


And on that same topic

There is nothing that brings insensitive stupidity out of the woodwork like a discussion of racist sports mascots, and Steve Breen may be right that the genocidal exploitation of native people at California’s missions could put the San Diego Padres on the spot.

It would be fair to debate whether their legacy is honorable, but you’d have to work your way through a dense jungle of imbecilic nincompoops who can’t see that Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish and Minnesota’s Vikings are self-named by and for dominant ethnicities in their communities.

Granted, that leprechaun is part of a shuck-and-jive view of the Irish, but the fact is we’re no longer part of the social underclass, while my Scandinavian forebears — though they did not wear horns on their helmets — never were.

Comic stereotypes go down easy when life isn’t hard.

In the case of the Padres, they have a regional justification for the mascot, but a lot of people genuinely don’t know the history of how cattle were raised for hides in the early Southwest, and how — much against their will — native people were forced by the padres to work in the trade.

If I were particularly enamored of that cartoonish little friar, I’d keep my head down and pretend to accept the Official Version of how California was settled.

Even though it would make me look stupid.


And speaking of history unexamined


Obituary cartoons are often a lot of sentimental nonsense, but they’re also a reminder that a good editorial cartoonist doesn’t simply argue policy but reflects the community vibe.

Kevin Necessary‘s commentary on the death of John Lewis is one of a couple of cartoons that mark his influence in continuing to inspire people to cause, as he put it, “good trouble.”

But there are many more which seem to suggest that he was the central figure in the Bloody Sunday confrontation on the Edmund Pettus bridge.

It’s fair to cite him as an example of the brutality faced that day, and in that era, by those seeking justice, just as it’s fair to cite the death of Emmett Till as a symbol of the many victims of lynching.

And if they want to rename the bridge in his honor, I’m okay with that.

But his life and his importance to the Civil Rights Movement went well beyond that day on the bridge, and cartoons that depict him alone on the bridge do a considerable disservice to him, to the throngs who struggled alongside him and to history itself.

I’ve long railed against the myth by which Rosa Parks was reduced to a “tired seamstress” rather than a dedicated NAACP member who took a stance to force a long-needed confrontation.

Limiting her contribution to an innocent, random moment leads to a self-satisfied conclusion that, as soon as “we” found out about discrimination, “we” fixed it.

Just as we fixed it when Emmett Till died.

Just as we fixed it when those little girls died in the bombing of that church.

If Civil Rights were a car, we’d have returned it under the Lemon Laws for all the times we fixed it and the damn thing still kept breaking down.

I’ve also long held out Bill Mauldin’s commentary on the Civil Rights Act for the fact that the Eagle says “I’ve decided …” and could have brushed Jim Crow aside at any time.

The cartoon is more a confession than a celebration, and to single out the attack on the Edmund Pettus bridge or Rosa Parks’ deliberate confrontation as anything more than honored high points is to ignore decades of struggle, and to ignore official decisions to turn a blind eye towards that struggle.

Even this timeline doesn’t go back to the return of Black veterans from WWI, or the Double-V movement to make sure it didn’t happen again the next time around.

A long road, and a tangled one.

Fact is, the Civil Rights Act was signed before Bloody Sunday, and, by the time marchers were attacked on that bridge, Medgar Evers had been in his grave nearly two years.

Which I mention because of the man whose response to someone calling Evers a martyr was “Oh, God no, we’ve already got too many martyrs.”

His righteous frustration inspired Bob Gibson and Phil Ochs.



2 thoughts on “CSotD: Cognitive Testing

  1. I was touched by this, from the timeline:

    September 25, 1957: The Little Rock Nine are blocked from entering Central High School by the Arkansas National Guard, and then escorted in by the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

    There’s nothing to add. It was a different time.

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