CSotD: Willful Ignorance

Paresh Nath (Cartoon Arts Int’l) posted this cartoon before the elections in Iran, but that’s an irrelevant detail, since everyone already knew the results before the elections took place. He may have been taking artistic advantage of the term being used in Iran, that the election was “engineered” by the hardliners of the Guardian Council.

It’s no surprise that a conservative hardliner was elected, and part of the reason, as outlined in that linked report, is that Trump’s irrational withdrawal from the multi-nation nuclear deal disheartened reformers and backed the hardliners into a corner.

However, the manipulations of the Guardian Council go back well before Trump blundered onto the political scene, and, while there’s a long list of things of which Dear Leader is ignorant, the more compelling issue is the willful ignorance of those politicians and political commentators who have a moral obligation to do their damn homework.

The extent to which reform-minded, modernist Iranians see their government as illegitimate and their elections as a farce is clear in the fact that fewer than half of the nation’s registered voters voted, and many who did, turned in blank ballots so they could get their ID cards stamped as having participated.


Only the degree to which things have degenerated is news. I wrote about this in an explainer for children 17 years ago, and, while I don’t expect that anyone beyond that small newspaper saw my piece, it’s not as if I had to be Iranian or fly to Teheran to know how things worked.

Anybody with Internet access could readily find out what I found out.

If they wanted to. The question being, are they that stupid, are they that ignorant, or is there a reason they pretend not to know how things work in Iran?

Twenty years ago, there were hopes for reform and a democratic Iran, but the Guardian Council squelched reform, not just with fatwahs that conflated religious obligations with political loyalties, but, as noted in that explainer, by shutting down opposition press and denying reform candidates the right to run for office.

Anyone could know this, if they wanted to.

Instead, the chickenhawks — who apparently want other people’s kids to die in Iran the way they sent other people’s kids to die in Iraq — continue to circulate the lie that we gave Iran pallets of money when we were simply returning their own frozen assets, and they continue to ignore the existence, much less the needs, of the many reform-minded, modern Iranians being subjugated by the mullahs of the Guardian Council.

Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, the reform-minded feminist who resigned from Iran’s parliament in the wake of 2004’s rigged elections, emigrated to the USA. I hope she’s not too disappointed.


Speaking of issuing fatwahs to intimidate people into political compliance, Patrick Marrin moved quickly to have his fictional version of Pope Francis address the issue of sacraments and politics discussed here yesterday.

The bishop’s conference hardly has the power of Iran’s Guardian Council, but they are able to threaten those who don’t vote correctly with the flames of Hell, and, as in Iran, sensible members of their faith know to shrug off their sacrilegious threats.

Meanwhile, just as ignorant, uncharitable people dismiss Iranians as backwards “ragheads,” I’ve been dismayed by the prideful atheism, militant anticlericalism and rank bigotry with which people have discussed this issue. Somebody dismissed Mario Cuomo’s discussion of how ethical American Catholic politicians handle themselves by citing the Thirty Years War, which took place on another continent some 150 years before the United States even existed.

The line between bigotry and willful ignorance is hard to draw, perhaps because it doesn’t exist.


I did get a laugh out of Michael deAdder‘s depiction of Joe Manchin, who crafted what appeared to be a reasonable compromise the GOP could go along with, only to find Mitch McConnell as determined as ever to block all legislation favored, however moderately and unwillingly, by the Biden administration.

Jennifer Rubin explains it all in her current WashPo column. Perhaps Joe Manchin should read it, assuming his ignorance is not willfully based, like that of his GOP colleagues, on doing not what’s best for the country, but on what will preserve his seat in Congress.

He’s making it hard to believe he’s simply naive.


Meanwhile, there is a significant clash between conservative cartoonists, like Michael Ramirez (Creators), who feel we should not assist Central American countries in improving things so that people we don’t want here won’t have to flee for their lives, and liberal cartoonists who condemn the Biden Administration for urging people to avoid the dangers of flight while we try to improve things.

There’s probably an economic analysis out there somewhere about the relative costs of foreign aid versus the costs of the refugee crisis, but think of all the cartoons that would be ruined if we sorted out the facts of the matter.


Elsewhere on the globe, Madam & Eve takes a poke at a story roiling South Africa about a woman who gave birth to 10 babies.

Well, maybe she did.

Probably not.

Pretty definitely not.

The cartoon is funny, but this analysis in the Daily Maverick suggests that bad journalism and obviously fake stories are no laughing matter.


Distinguishing the real from the ridiculous

Wallace the Brave (AMS) unintentionally gave me a case of the heebie-jeebies.

There’s nothing so ridiculous that you can’t find it in real life, in this case, by going back a decade into the history of — sigh — my own alma mater.

The prank itself didn’t bother me. I happen to know who climbed up on the roof of the school one winter night to erect a gigantic snow sculpture in the shape of a hand making an obscene gesture towards the classroom of a particular teacher.

No, it wasn’t me. And I’d never rat out my little brother.

But in those days, the custodian simply went up there and took it down.

Twenty years later, we’d reached the point where student pranks required calling the cops.


And, given the number of stories today like that of the kid being forbidden to graduate for wearing the wrong shoes, it’s not getting any better.


7 thoughts on “CSotD: Willful Ignorance

  1. Thanks for the shout out, Mike! I remember the seniors in my highschool filled a bunch of sex dolls with helium and let them lose in the gymnasium . You never forget something like that, y’know

  2. It is in my opinion, and has been since it first appeared on Gocomics before it was syndicated, that Wallace The Brave is the best comic strip going today…bar none…and it continues to get better.

  3. Amen! Wallace the Brave is the best current comic strip and already ranks up with the great strips like Calvin & Hobbs, (early) Peanuts and Little Nemo.

  4. Agreeing on Wallace – and all the supporting cast too -but Sterling is leaning toward ornmal-ish lately.

  5. Many strong agreements on Wallace. But I don’t taste the oatmeal—I think it is just as good as ever. I have to force myself not to look every day, because it is so great reading a couple weeks worth every couple weeks.

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