Satire, parody and perspective
here exists among us in our society, even here in a state defined in part by common decency, a subculture, a movement… some group whatever called… who are defined by what in my opinion can only be called delusional hate.
I’m not citing any interest group or any other organized group.
What group am I talking about? Those who are so motivated by hatred, resentment and condescension that they are incapable of discourse or debate; the people who disrespect with vulgarity the President of the United States before he even takes office. There are those who consider our military oppressors – despite history asserting otherwise. They consider police officers tyrannical enforcers of racist, bigoted laws and policies and ethics.
These same people throw around pejoratives like “Nazi, dictator, racist” dishonestly. People who immediately use those labels for anyone with whom they disagree on any political issue. They applied such labels to men of honor like both George Bush and George W. Bush; to Reagan; even to John McCain.
To people with whom they disagree, they attribute traits of the worst of humanity. And you know to whom, generally, I refer. No? I write this column on Saturday, Jan, 5, and this morning I have seen two such people on cable news. That’s the easiest place to see these people, although the Democrat Caucus is a close second. They look neat, come across smart and have the bright-eyed but shallow look of zealots. Personally, I can tell one the moment I see them and find them slightly creepy. Hollow.
Why do I write today, sharing opinions about national politics, which I generally do not? After all, our imperative is local news, and I am more focused on what’s happening in our neighborhoods.
A week ago, I made the decision to run a political cartoon which I am not running herein again. Both I and many readers seemed to interpret the cartoon one way – the way that seemed obvious to me – but several other readers seemed to interpret otherwise. Several outraged readers reached out having misinterpreted the cartoon and were furious. Some I was able to speak or write back; some of whom I was not able to. But I promised everyone I communicated with that I would write the column today.
Political cartoons aren’t based on simple puns like cartoons on the comics page. Done right, they are built on satire, parody, irony, subtlety, hyperbole. Really fine ones leave room for interpretation and projection, like great art. Political cartoons might not hang in the Louvre, but they are art and they are one of the few places one sees satire and parody. Think Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal,’ in which the satirist suggested eating children to keep them from being burdens.
We don’t have Swifts anymore. We have one-frame political cartoonists.
I loathe explaining perspective – meaning – to art or anything else interpretive. But since a number of you have been alarmed by the cartoon, the following is for your consideration.
The cartoonist’s job isn’t representational and rarely directly expresses his opinion. He isn’t expressing it here and some people are missing the point of it.
The point is that there are some people who actually believe that the President of the United States and the men and women who serve their county covet the death of children; and that Border Patrol are some kind of stormtroopers.
They don’t just say this. They seem to believe that.
Exactly how possessed of hatred and delusion must one be to really believe rubbish like this? Have such people never met a soldier, a law enforcement officer? Does one honesty, in one’s heart, believe that this president – or any president is pleased with children dying? It is not rational.
Yet this subculture exists.
How does this virulent “movement” or subculture or whatever it is relate to a syndicated editorial cartoon? The misperception.
The cartoon in question doesn’t advocate the position of the aforementioned off-kilter population. It mocks it. It holds up a mirror to the delusional haters’ souls to show them the shadowy parts of themselves- that some people actually believe the utter bollocks of a viciously, violent White House and Border Patrol.
At least that is how I interpreted it. Many readers did as well. Some did not. If I’d interpreted the cartoon as did the latter, I wouldn’t have run it. Oh, my ethical imperative is to be open to all political perspectives. But hate? No. My ethical imperative is to call that out.
And so we did. For those of you I haven’t had the chance to speak to personally, I hope this serves as an explanation of satire and the work of political cartoonist’s job.