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CSotD: Futility

Constant Readers may have noted that I’m currently frustrated and have been avoiding political cartoons for a few days. David Cohen offers something of an explanation.

The “Heh Heh” is the best part, because not only has the Reasonable Man been wasting his time, but his inability to get through makes the wall feel victorious. As it should.

It’s a variation on this untraceable bit of wisdom: “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it,” but it has the advantage of not blatantly insulting the other side.

Calling people “stupid” because they believe the election was stolen or that Covid isn’t a real disease or that the storming of the Capitol was an example of free speech is not simply futile but counterproductive: It confirms their sense of being picked-on by elitists, reinforcing their position.

At the same time, it forces them into a corner where they are bound to become defensive and vicious.

Whether you can persuade them to your side in any case is — as Cohen notes — dubious, though by now it should be obvious that insulting them won’t do the trick.

Certainly not while they have allies in high places.

The leaders of the move towards fascism — Kevin McCarthy, Tucker Carlson and their lapdogs — have already framed Covid and election fraud and other falsehoods not as statements of fact but as matters of patriotic loyalty.

It’s not an issue of calling them “stupid” over specific facts. What they hear is that you are calling their loyalty “stupid.”

Even ratcheting it down to “gullible” is unlikely to win them over.

 

Tom Tomorrow posits a world where there is neither gullibility nor stupidity and where nobody’s loyalty is based on tribalism rather than the greater good of society.

It’s lovely as satire, though it only comforts the afflicted and does nothing to change the attitudes of those who will never see it and wouldn’t understand it if they did.

The brilliance of Swift’s “Modest Proposal” to cook and eat the children of the poor was the fact that it penetrated the masses and infuriated those who did not recognize it as satire.

It’s not easy to pull that off: As noted here before, Archie Bunker was embraced by like-minded bigots, to which I would add that I doubt many on the fascist fringe ever understood Stephen Colbert’s mocking persona, though they certainly figured out that he was insulting George W at the annual White House Concubines Association Dinner.

 

And what’s the point of this Nick Anderson (Tribune) cartoon, other than to repeat yet again what we already know?

How many times can you point it out before you realize that they simply don’t care?

Maybe they are consciously hypocritical. Maybe they are genuinely too heartless to get it.

Either way, it’s not just that they don’t care about children, or about the poor. They don’t care about your opinion of them, either.

They know that there is a substantial bloc of voters who don’t care about children or the poor, either, and that they can manipulate voting districts and voting laws to suppress the voices of those who do.

 

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Michael De Adder)

 

(Jeff Danziger – AMS)

These contrasting views of the removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue in Richmond provide a useful discussion point.

De Adder pictures a time when it will be seen as the end of a hateful era, with an implication that the transformation has begun, while Danziger suggests that not only will the “Lost Cause” narrative itself persist, but that the hatred and division of that unresolved conflict have never gone away and never will.

Part of the fallacy in the deification of Bobby Lee is that, as the most ignorant being to ever dwell in the White House said the other day — and, BTW, I’m including Fala, Liberty, Bo and Macaroni in that headcount — the Lost Cause mythology has fixed a completely bogus image of him in the public mind.

Again, it does no good to point out how completely off the wall this assessment is, and how “except for Gettysburg” sounds like the old joke, “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

It’s already firmly established that Donald Trump either never has any idea what the hell he’s talking about or is the most blatant liar who has ever held public office. A total of 30,000 misstatements over four years is an average of 21 false statements per day.

But so what? As Saleno Zito observed during the 2016 campaign, “(T)he press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

Meanwhile, Danziger and De Adder agree that the Civil War is over. They’re just quibbling over which side won.

 

And so, as Pat Bagley points out, here we are, with Republicans having fomented a violent attack on the Capitol that included death threats not only against the Democratic Speaker of the House but against their own vice-president, and Republican leadership is actively obstructing attempts to investigate the insurrection.

I’m not sure it’s fair to say, as some have, that it’s like letting Goering and Goebbels sit on the jury at Nuremberg, but it’s certainly reminiscent of the way sleazy, underhanded negotiations brought Rutherford B. Hayes to the White House and Jim Crow to power in the South.

 

Mike Luckovich (AMS) predicts that GOP whining over farcical claims of fraud will become completely normalized.

Repeated, systematic recounts of paper ballots by hand have become as futile as telling people Elvis really is dead or explaining why the flag on the Moon moved where there is no wind.

Meanwhile, the media continues to elevate voices that once had no place in the national conversation. Yesterday, even NPR interviewed Covid deniers before noting that the vast majority of Americans support mask mandates.

It’s their controversy, not ours.

Most newspapers stopped letting reporters go to barrooms in the middle of the day to interview “average Americans,” but they still send them to diners to assess public sentiment at hours when most voters are working.

The question being whether they got it right, or simply amplified it until it became right?

And what the hell difference it makes now?

 

Community Comments

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#1 Mary Ella
September/10/2021
@ 2:06 pm

The other analogy I’ve heard is playing chess with a pigeon—-he’ll knock over all the pieces and poop on the board but still strut around like he won the game.

#2 Don Blakeslee
September/10/2021
@ 6:10 pm

I prefer a line from a blush song: Ain’t no reason for me to be pissing on a skunk. Hard to keep in mind when so many people ignore one of the fundamentals of common law. Carlos disregard for the safety of others is a crime.

#3 Don Blakeslee
September/10/2021
@ 6:13 pm

Oops, autocorrect got me. That’s blues song for you non-fans.

#4 Brad Walker
September/10/2021
@ 8:32 pm

Don — As sung by Carlos Disregard?

#5 Bob Rawson
September/11/2021
@ 6:53 pm

This:

“Calling people ‘stupid’ because they believe the election was stolen or that Covid isn’t a real disease or that the storming of the Capitol was an example of free speech is not simply futile but counterproductive: It confirms their sense of being picked-on by elitists, reinforcing their position.”

“At the same time, it forces them into a corner where they are bound to become defensive and vicious.”

Exactly right. But getting that message to the people who need to hear it is like talking to a brick wall.

And I loved the echo of the Hibbing Nobel lauriate’s eternal question here: “How many times can you point it out before you realize that they simply don’t care?”

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