As a thousand cartoons about the Speakership race become obsolete — the matter having finally been decided — a look at the difference between analysis and judgment, with the understanding that both have a place in editorial cartooning.
Kal lays out the argument that McCarthy’s speakership is flawed by the concessions he made, which left him beholden to a fringe group within the party.
There’s more to be said along that line, and columnists have noted that Sam Rayburn, one of the more legendary Speakers, would be appalled at how McCarthy caved and groveled to gain the position. They’ve compared his lack of control over his party’s outliers with the firmness with which Pelosi kept the fractious Squad focused on achievable goals, while allowing them to pursue their individual issues.
Kal goes further than the now-common image of McCarthy unable to fill a giant high-heeled shoe, because his point is not simply that McCarthy is not Pelosi but that he has put himself in an impossible position.
By contrast, Milbrath makes a judgment, that the current Republican congress is the spiritual heirs to the murderous traitors who attempted to overthrow the government. It’s easy enough to defend, given the number of members who fled for their lives during the coup but have since denied the event, defended the insurgents and obstructed investigation not only of the attempted coup but, in some cases, of their own behavior in regards to it.
You needn’t agree, but to refute Kal effectively would demand a logical counter-argument, while Milbrath is vulnerable to a feckless “agree to disagree” response.
I agree with both cartoonists, but analysis stands more firmly than judgment, in cartooning and elsewhere.
For example, keeping Kal on the block for the moment, there’s little disagreement with his analysis that China is actively blocking information about the current levels of covid infections. Their having built a wall to keep out foreigners is an apt analogy, given that they’ve quit releasing statistics.
But that hasn’t stopped those with an agenda from ignoring facts in order to promote their vision:
There’s nothing wrong with wearing a mask in confined areas and it’s even a good idea, but this semi-viral tweet is a good example of, at best, poor judgment, linked to a story that is a good example of poor journalism.
If you believe it’s now safe to fly without a protective mask, you might want to think again.
New research shows the COVID-19 virus has been found on nearly every flight tested.
Well, no. The findings are from testing of 29 flights from China to Malaysia, which the Malaysian government ordered precisely because of the likelihood of covid on such flights. It has very little relevance even to other flights in and out of Kuala Lampur, much less flights between Chicago and Los Angeles.
There’s nothing wrong with the testing itself, of course, just as there’s nothing wrong with reminding people that masking up in confined spaces is wise.
But cartoonists are required to be honest, however much hyperbole they may employ. It would be nice if other media applied that standard, too.
Similarly, the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict brought out a lot of commentaries linked to the Biblical admonition against judging others.
Marian Kamensky (Cartoon Movement) shows him being borne to the gates of Hell by smiling altar boys, and there’s plenty of evidence that, as cardinal, he failed to pursue justice in cases of pederast priests.
But it’s judgment, not analysis, and there are several avenues of refutation, beginning with the argument that rejoicing in anyone’s death shows a failure of Christian philosophy.
It is similar to arguments over the extent to which Pius XII either collaborated with, or resisted, the Nazis. As David Kertzer, author of a book on the topic, suggested in a PBS interview, it’s less about condemning his apparent lack of action than it is about resisting the drive to declare him a saint.
I’m disinclined to judge Benedict, though I’d judge a church that canonized him.
But it’s no longer my Church, no longer my problem. I walked away from the Church 20 years before Ratzinger was named pope, a title he himself abandoned nearly a decade ago.
Which brings us to the classic koan about the two monks and the woman at the river.
I set him down long ago. Why are you still carrying him?
Juxtaposition of the Day
The cardiac arrest suffered by Damar Hamlin during a football game last Monday has brought out a lot of supportive cartoons as well as action from fans: His fund for poor children in his hometown has swelled with donations.
But it also brought out some anti-football cartoons, which don’t seem based on the facts of his case.
Whether to watch football is open to debate. I have family members who, aware of the risks of brain damage, can no longer enjoy the sport. I still enjoy the games, but I respect their decisions.
But, in his Substack piece, Judge goes back to 1969 to cite the macho “play hurt” philosophy, which has undergone significant revision in the years since.
As noted here both the morning after, and a day later, the NFL Players Association is dissatisfied with the League’s response, but that response has been significant, both in rule changes and in providing the type of on-scene medical treatment that saved Hamlin’s life.
And, Margulies notwithstanding, the fans have, indeed, woken up, as seen in the public fury when Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was allowed to re-enter a game with what seemed a serious concussion.
More to the point in this case, Hamlin’s injury was a freak occurrence that had little to do with the game of football and would have been far more likely in other sports.
Oddly enough, that information and graph come from the Korey Stringer Institute, named for an NFL player who died of heat stroke during practice and whose death led to a lot of “waking up” by the league and its fans.
The recommendations on their site make sense, not only for sports but for a number of far more common occupations that are far more dangerous.
Think twice, speak once.