Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Glenn McCoy Betsy DeVos Editorial Cartoon: "“I’m surprised that you see ‘hate’ in this cartoon"

Glenn McCoy's February 13, 2017 editorial cartoon about Betsy DeVos has been divisive.

Glenn has made a statement on the Belleville (IL) News Democrat newspaper's site:

“My cartoon was about how, in this day and age, decades beyond the civil rights protests, it’s sad that people are still being denied the right to speak freely or do their jobs or enter public buildings because others disagree with who they are or how they think,” he wrote. “I’m surprised that you see ‘hate’ in this cartoon when I thought I was speaking out against hate. It’s a woman passively walking while being protected from angry protesters. Isn’t that what went down the other day when DeVos visited a school to do her job? You may disagree with her on issues but I didn’t see any hate coming from her. I did, however see hate going in the other direction which is what made me think of the Rockwell image. That was the only comparison I was drawing. The level of toxicity in today’s political climate has reached ridiculous levels.”

Read more here:
My take: Glenn says that billionaire Betsy DeVos is a victim of hate; that she is just like six year old Ruby Bridges, the little African American girl, in the iconic painting by Norman Rockwell, "The Problem We All Live With" (1964).

Ruby Bridges is on her way to her first day of school at the William Frantz Elementary School. She is six years old. She will be the first non-white student attending that day. The four U.S. Marshals are there to ensure that the desegregation laws are adhered to.

Betsy DeVos is a white, 59 year old billionaire who was confirmed by the Senate in an historically close vote as the new Secretary of Education on January 31st, 2017. She has been heavily involved in Republican politics since the 1990s.

Glenn equates the N-word with "conservative" here, and anger at DeVos as being the same as bigots and white supremacists.

I disagree with this cartoon fundamentally. There is no comparison.

But, I believe in Glenn's right to draw it and sell it. And he has. He sold it to his paper, the Belleville News-Democrat. Universal Press has it on their site and it's available thru their syndication services.

Cartooning is a commercial art. If there is commerce for a certain sense of humor, a certain viewpoint, then the market will reward it.


Rick Marschall said...

Mike, I dissent from your dissent. Haters often lose their sense of perspective (even as you claim that eludes Glenn) and sense of humor; certainly sense of good will. You people might "only" throw tomatoes and spread invective (oooo, a billionaire -- of course DeVos cannot have rights or be capable of compassion or intelligence or innovative ideas) but, politics aside (give it a try) Glenn's cartoon draws the abstract truth that to many of you, "Conservative" is the new "N" word. That physical intimidation of Mrs DeVos is a recently demonstrated fact. That, in the George Wallace tradition, Democrats still block schoolhouse doors.

Glenn's cartoon is brilliant comment, using iconic images and juxtaposition. Hate? Ridiculous, except for the implications and depictions of hatred in the treatment of the little Black girl and the grownup White woman. Not only that, but the figures all have arms of normal length...

DBenson said...

I dissent from the dissent from the dissent. Unless you assume Glenn is a left-winger who's mocking conservatives who suddenly embrace "victim culture" when they confront public disapproval. Comparing a powerful adult political figure who suffered some embarrassment on her safe progress to a high government office she has failed to show any qualifications for to a child who faced very real physical danger en route to a basic education goes well beyond smug and clueless.

After David Letterman returned to the air after heart surgery, one of his first guests was comedian Chris Elliott. Elliott talked about how deeply he identified and emphasized with Letterman's ordeal, have gotten a paper cut -- a really bad one, that hurt -- a while back. Difference: Elliott was being funny (Letterman was laughing in a non-snarky way).

Phil Chill Hill said...

Distancing from D for Dissent is a G word: Galvanize. I am and hopefully others are too, Galvanized by this image.

bg said...

Hateful? No. Insensitive? Yes, egregiously so. I agree with Mike, "there is no comparison."

Unknown said...

Hey Mike... odd coincidence... while randomly procrastinating when I'm supposed to be planning a talk I'm due to give tomorrow about the Politics of Cartoons, I happened upon THIS 'toon and then THIS blog... and my reaction is a blank 'huh?' like when I see or hear something that is just blatantly false, so false I can think of nothing to say about it.

Your blog remarks are all true, logical and on-target, but they feel like they fall short, and it took me a while to figure out why...

Norman Rockwell is my favorite propagandist, especially his WW2-era Four Freedoms . . . what is profoundly "liberal" about Rockwell in the highest sense of the word is that he saw freedom and fairness not as antithetical but as two necessary sides of the same coin. As someone to whom this "liberal" balancing act is almost sacred, McCoy's cartoon strikes me as almost blasphemous. (Fairness Versus Freedom—one or the other!—is what McCoy and other so-called conservatives seem to believe these days, probably due to the malign influence of the obtuse Ayn Rand.)

But wait... outrage at a blasphemous cartoon, and at its smug creator? Sound familiar? Which side am I on!? Funny, the last thing I expected was to find myself turning into the enemy, or even understanding how the enemy might feel, in the global Cartoon Wars that have been raging in Denmark, Paris and lord knows where next.

Ironic, considering that I've just been pondering how Rockwell's message is the perfect antidote to fundamentalist wrath, summing up what feels good about living in a free society... I was thinking that might be the core of my talk, even. (Addressing head-on the clichés about 'political correctness gone mad')...

say hi to the Gang — greetings from the other side of the world (now officially a member of A,C.A. thanx largely to Adrian's networking services).

Unknown said...

In case it wasn't entirely clear, "blatantly false" refers only to McCoy's toon, not to your blog.

Unknown said...

I have a slightly different reading on this cartoon. I actually think it's great, in a way, but not for the reason its creator or admirers intend. Initially, I thought that the appropriation of Rockwell's painting wouldn't survive even a cursory examination; the cartoonist's statement read as a retroactive and hollow attempt to justify his use of such an iconic image, closing with such quasi-ecumenical dismay that I expected the next sentence to read, "Can't we all just get along?" I don't know McCoy's work, but I figured I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is at least capable of plumbing beneath the surface.

I believe that little time should be spent in comparing Betsy Devos to Ruby Bridges. Such a comparison, as other comments exhibit, only highlight the often glaring contrasts between the two. And it's besides the point. I think the spotlight should instead be focused on the graffiti on the wall. The Right, in its various manifestations, has steadily adopted the mantle of an aggrieved minority (meanwhile claiming majority support when convenient, mind you). This has been going on for some time, of course, but has metastasized in recent years (approximately 8, to be more specific) into a kind of schizophrenia, vacillating between delusions of grandeur and an inferiority complex. Whether or not you agree with the sentiment, the Right feels not only that they are, and have been, under assault, but - crucially, now - that their "struggle" is analogous to... oh, I don't know... the civil rights movement, maybe? Sure, why not? McCoy's cartoon does not exist in a vacuum in expressing this sentiment. If you visit any number of right-wing and alt-right websites, you will see article after article espousing this form of victimhood and self-aggrandizement. The real threat, therefore, is racism against white people (or "European," to adopt their defensive euphemism), or, "reverse racism," (never mind the incoherent tautology).

Any disruption to the social order that they are accustomed to (what others might call "progress") they view not only as hostile, but coming at their expense and a threat to their way of life. To elevate a minority to something resembling equality status is, to them, inherently subjugating their own status. To celebrate anything non-normative is to simultaneously disparage the normative. This kind of juvenile, knee-jerk hysteria has been going on for several years now, and often in laughably irrational ways, from extolling the virtues of the Confederacy to not quite grasping the perhaps-too-subtle name "Black Lives Matter," and comparing them to the KKK. (You see how these contrasts work?) One might imagine, though, that "Black Lives Matter Too, You Know" might not have quite the same punch. ... (continued below)

Unknown said...

(continued from above)
So if you ascribe to this perspective, then this cartoon makes complete sense and is the codification of the Right's grievances, writ-large. They genuinely believe that "Conservative" has become an analogous slur to "Nigger." Never mind that they themselves will often use "Liberal" with the same implied venom. They will (rightfully) decry attempts to stifle their free speech, but never mind that they will attempt to do the same if something offends their equally delicate sensibilities. It's not the offense that they mind... it's the direction at which it's aimed.

What I find increasingly disappointing, is that they are finding such unwitting accomplices on the Left, who are helping them in their cause and giving them ammunition. Whether it's preventing DeVos from entering the school or rioting at college campuses to prevent speakers from even making it to a podium, this kind of petulant censorship is, at best, counterproductive. What better illustration of DeVos' incompetence and lack of qualification was there other than her testimony before Congress? And what better rebuke to her agenda of privatization is there than the record of charter schools in her home state, if not the nation? If my opponents want to hang themselves, I don't want to take away their noose. I want to help them tie it and carry them up the stairs if need be. Until the Left gives up their attempts at censorship, they will play right into the hands of their opponents who control the federal and most state governments, and still consider themselves an aggrieved minority. And we'll get more cartoons like this one, which is an unintended crystallization of the persecution complex that the Right has suffered from for decades, with no end in sight.

Unknown said...

What is the new term I read at the Gaurdian " Populist Correctness !" We see a fine example with this tune.