Monday, July 14, 2008

Not This Little Black Duck, or: That's All, Folks

Here’s what Don Hazen, editor at AlterNet, had to say about the NYer cover depicted here: “The New Yorker magazine hits the news stands today [Mon 14 July 2008] with a shocking cover -- a caricature of Barack and Michelle Obama depicting the presidential candidate in a turban, fist-bumping his wife who has a machine gun slung over her shoulder, while the American flag burns in the fireplace. The cover is shocking in that it depicts the Obamas in bizarre caricatured images and associations which reflect the very stereotypes with which the conservatives, particularly Fox News, have been trying to frame both the Obamas. Thus, instead of satire, the cover becomes a political poster for conservatives to reinforce their messages.”

The article went on to give the Obama campaign’s reaction:

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama, said in a statement: "The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

So, on the grounds that Americans are too unsophisticated to get satire, and too literal to understand how a literal depiction of the right’s smear of Obama reveals its essential absurdity, they condemn the cover.

This is more revealing than the cover itself.

Why should certain things, such as Mohammed, be off-limits to political satire and cartoons? Should anything be?

What we’re seeing is Obama supporters trying to twist things not to their favor, but toward censorship. Toward political correctness as a weapon to fight free expression of complex, subtle ideas. They are demonizing irony.

If the right takes the cover up as a poster for its bigotry, so what? That merely reflects the right’s core idiocy and vile mean-spiritedness.

If the stupid among us can’t grasp the difference between a pointed political cartoon and a documentary photograph, so what? Perhaps offering actual education in place of indoctrination in America’s schools would eventually improve such a dismal performance.

To penalize the satire is not only willfully missing the point, it is to take one more step toward the fascism that is corroding what was once the USA.

Freedoms and liberty should be precious, not convenient. Are we to stand idly by as liar and lunatics dictate the terms of public discourse? To cite another satire few have ever understood: “Not this little black duck.”

Here’s what Warner Bros. says about Daffy, by the way: “As his personality gained depth at the hands of Warner Bros cartoons’ directors, the little black duck became more self-analytical, competitive, peevish, paranoid, and neurotic... Daffy, like the Greek hero Sisyphus, is a victim of injustice who continuously protests. And it’s his refusal to surrender his will to the whims of the conspiring universe that makes him heroic”.

It’s always like that for satire, and any other intelligent art. The masses never get it, and it’s used against the masses by cynical manipulators with ulterior motives and hidden agendas.

As it was with the Mohammed cartoons in Denmark, so it is now with this NYer cover cartoon. Intolerance and a lack of any sense of humor are being used in tandem to crush dissent. In this specific instance, it is also being used to suppress and condemn the unmasking of a vile right canard.

Does it occur to no one allegedly in the Obama camp, let alone anyone in favor of freedom and liberty of the First Amendment varietal, that taking the cover’s depiction seriously as a literal truth, rather than seeing it for a scathing revelation, is precisely what the right wants? That refusing to see how it explodes the absurdity of the notions it depicts is precisely what the blinkered, ditto’d right does? That embracing the cover’s mockery of the ideas the cartoon so acidly attacks would be exactly the antidote to such prejudicial stereotypes?

So either the Obama side of things isn’t as slick as its PR would have us believe, or it has cynically decided to stand with the right by playing to the Lowest Common Denominator mentality and stirring up fake, distracting controversy rather than engaging genuine issues.

Seem familiar, folks?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la méme chose.

Rush Limbaugh started out as an anti-right satirist, until the right, being literalist and stupid, took what he was saying not as mockery but as confirmation. At that point, he decided to shill for pay and became what is laughingly called a pundit. The creation of the ego-monster, the lunatic gas-bag, the mindless mouth that not even oxycontin can close, came about simply by taking satire as validation.

This failure to laugh is a failure to puncture the pretense, and only worsens the pretentious among us.

The emperor has no clothes, shouts the NYer cover, but before the crowd can laugh and clear away the compliance born of fear and the conformity born of collective silence, the laughter is cut off by shrill accusations that the little boy who cried out the emperor’s nakedness is a sexual pervert who must be punished. And so the crowd falls upon the boy, stones and beheads him, and the oppression of idiocy goes on.

So by all means become outraged that a cartoonist on the cover of a nationally prominent magazine dared to show the plain truth about the right’s nonsensical accusations, in order to emphasize how silly they are. Because your outrage will demonize such revelations of truth, and help ensure the continued fascist dictatorship of fear, compliance, conformity, and willful ignorance and blindness that has made what’s left of this country what it is today.

The One Party of the USSA has spoken and only Big Brother is left smirking in the shadows.

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