CSotD: Cut-rate parasites and other villains

(Jack Ohman – WPWG)

(Ann Telnaes – WashPo)

Here’s a Juxtaposition of two cartoonists whose work I greatly admire, but I’m giving Telnaes the advantage this time around because, while I like and agree with both cartoons, there are times when understated banality is more powerful than comic exaggeration.

Besides, wit all doo respeck to Ohman, I’m as sick of that phony shaman as I am of Bernie memes, but with this difference: While Bernie memes were funny for about 48 hours and then became tiresome, focusing on the shaman is part of a journalistic miscarriage I have long, and often, decried.

And here it is again, folks: When there is a demonstration, the photographer may come back to the newsroom with 100 shots of crowds listening to speakers or marching down the street with signs, but the editor will pull out the picture of the fool dressed as Uncle Sam, covered in fake blood and carrying a machine gun.

He doesn’t represent what happened, but he offers drama and visual excitement, which is what that dipshit in the cowabunga outfit offered during the attempted putsch.

In this case, however, he distracts not from the fact that the others were quietly exercising their First Amendment rights, but, rather, that most of that mob of violent traitors looked just like us.


Telnaes riffs on the famous WWI British recruiting poster, which demanded that average British men consider the implications of sitting back and letting others bear the burden, but she puts the question to the Senate collaborators, as represented by Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.

And instead of the father rendered speechless by the question, she suggests that they will shamelessly explain how they sold out their country for personal advantage.

Which, it is important to note, implies that they have won, since they would otherwise be shamefaced — if only by their failure.

As I have also said many times before, in the wake of WWII, we learned that none of the German people supported Hitler and that everybody in France was active in the heroic Resistance.

It took several decades for that self-serving mythology to crumble and reveal how many people had been, at worst, collaborators and, at best, bystanders.


The story had already been told in “Casablanca,” on the eve of America’s entry into the war, after years of our own serving as bystanders, much like Rick and Louis.

Louis Renault was the less admirable of the pair, having directly profited not only from his willingness to collaborate with the Germans and his willingness to not only ignore but profit from the illegal gambling at Rick’s, but from his practice of extracting sexual favors from desperate, attractive refugee women.

Rick simply made money from the desperate people passing through Casablanca, bragging that he stuck his neck out for nobody and dismissing Ugarte as a cut-rate parasite when his own honor was not nearly as cheap.

The tension in the movie being less the doomed, lingering romance of Rick and Ilsa and more the fact that Rick and Louis know both that they’re in the wrong and that their pretense of neutrality is simply another form of collaboration.


Meanwhile, in the real world, Vlacek Spiegelman and millions more were learning what happens when nobody stands up for you.


As it happens, a decade later, in Ivanhoe, George Sanders played a second brilliantly complicated villain, Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, torn between his ambitious loyalty to corrupt Prince John and his desire for Rebecca of York, whom he could not legally love in medieval England because she was a Jew.

It almost made you feel sorry for him, except that, unlike Rick and Louis, there was to be no redemption for this collaborator.

We no longer like our villains to be complicated because we no longer want to have to cope with mixed emotions about them.

Instead, we get the pure, perverse evil of Tim Roth in Rob Roy, whom we instantly hate and can’t wait to see killed, which brings us back to the imaginary feel-good world where Hitler and his immediate circle stand alone.

And where villains paint themselves in wild colors and wear fanciful, absurd outfits so we can tell them from the decent folks who look like us.

Decent folks who look like us having made up the other 99.5% of that mob, and the 45% of the Senate who declare that “Blue Lives Matter” until some cop is killed by their own supporters.

And who, if they remain standing when the battle is over, will tell without shame what they did in the civil war.

Bringing us to a second

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Matt Wuerker – Politico)


(Kevin Siers – N&O)


(Clay Jones – Ind)

If you were hoping for simple, one-dimensional villains and easy answers, you may have come to the wrong universe.

It’s possible that many in the GOP regret what they have wrought, but, at this stage, they seem reduced to a combination of denial and minimalization, and, by the way, I don’t mind Wuerker tossing in that buffalo headdress as a symbol of the violence from that day, since his focus is on the elephant that encouraged it, not the fool who wore it.

Siers, meanwhile, casts doubt on our ability to create unity, at least as long as there are those whose profits depend on preserving fear and anger.

It is funny in a gallows-humor way that Biden didn’t point the finger at any particular white supremacists but Fox and other rightwing media are rallying the bigots by insisting he meant them.

It’s also worth observing that Fox seems intent on preserving their grip on the crazies who are moving towards OAN and Newsmax. The network has fired several of its more moderate journalists and moved the end of news coverage and start of its schedule of inflammatory opinion pieces back an hour into Prime Time.

Which leaves Clay Jones doing less exaggeration and more basic exposition than a cartoon of this nature might have contained a month ago.

Look: Even when the villains are complex, the answers aren’t.

Sympathy is just another form of collaboration.


4 thoughts on “CSotD: Cut-rate parasites and other villains

  1. I believe right-wing cartoonists, who straightforward lie (as opposed to humorous or ironic exaggeration), need to be confronted, just as we confront lying editorials.

  2. Sir Walter Scott created a very complicated character in de Bois-Guilbert before the word psychology had been coined. Ivanhoe is a remarkable book.

  3. Ivanhoe is one of those cases where the (1952) movie is terrific, perhaps the top swashbuckler of all, but the book is a different experience and well worth the effort, since it’s a deep rather than fast read.

    Side note: In “Two Years Before the Mast,” Dana speaks of meeting another ship, trading books and getting the latest Scott. He considered it a major plus in the exchange.

  4. I wonder what Marty Two Bulls makes of the “sham-man.” (I checked his facebook page and he is aiming more at the source )

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