Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Art As Opium

This piece from editorial cartoonist Jeff Koterba appeared in the Nov 11, 2016 edition of the Omaha World-Herald: 

A friend reposted it in his blog, otherwise I probably would have never seen it.  

I guess my friend liked it, but I can't be sure.  He reposted it without comment.  I don't think he's ever shared a cartoon he didn't like, but all I know for sure is this: I don't like it.

It conveys the impression that the recent election was just another election, that the candidates were more or less equal, that one clearly won, and that there will be other elections in the future.

I strongly disagree with all of these things.

To me, this election was like the 1933 election in Germany that elevated Hitler to power.  

Our candidates weren't as similar as Tweedledum and Tweedledee but as different as day and night on all the qualities that matter – morality, intelligence, and temperament.  Anything that obscures this and promotes a false equivalency is savagely distorting reality. 

The fact that the better candidate won the popular vote but still lost the election is not something to be shrugged off or glossed over just because doing so may make us feel good and/or promotes the illusion of social peace – it's something we should constantly remember and protest until justice is done and the will of the majority is recognized.  

At this point, the idea that future elections are a sure thing seems highly questionable, even dangerous.  As was the case in Germany, we might be a single trumped-up crisis like the Reichstag fire from outright totalitarianism.  Even without a crisis, there is no good reason to be optimistc.  Those who "won" the White House and Congress with a diabolical combination of gerrymandering,  voter suppression, outrageous lies, and the constant appeal to the basest instincts and fears of the voters seem certain to do all they can to further erode our democratic processes and ideals – and now they have more economic and political power than ever before to do so.  

Koterba's cartoon seems to ignore all these harsh realities in order to promote calmness and comfort.  

Those harsh realties demand just the opposite.  They demand cartoons and speeches and marches and much else that help keep the focus on the truth and what's really going on.  

What's needed is a call to battle – not a sedative.    

Adding Xanax to the water supply of German Jews 83 years ago would have been exactly the wrong thing to do.

Koterba's cartoon is exactly the wrong approach to take now.

We need to adopt a policy of eternal vigilance and action – not of forgive and forget.  

This may be more painful in the short run, but it might be the only thing that ends up saving us in the long run.

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