Myopia to the left of me, short-sightedness to the right!

A left-wing RL buddy (well, sort of: we know one another from the Dutch small-press comics circuit and he has stayed in my house a few times. By the standards of online friendship, that means we’re practically engaged) of mine and a right-wing online friend and colleague of mine are both making comments in their blogs that show exactly the same sort of selective blindness. I should be grateful to them. It’s very rare to have such a great opportunity to be fair and balanced dropped into your lap.

First, Martin Wisse asks, rhetorically:

Does the fact that US soldiers have engaged in torture in Iraq demand of those on the left who supported the war to re-evaluate their position?


Then surely, the fact that the liberators themselve engage in torture and rape, must cause some soul searching? After all, what does liberation matter if torture still happens?

I suppose Johann Hari and Harry of Harry’s Place are chopped liver? I presume you didn’t check back to see what such vocal supporters of the war as Christopher Hitchens and Norman Geras have been saying, Martin? Seriously, you didn’t, did you? You went “fuck’em” in January and haven’t looked back since, have you? Because if you had bothered to look, you’d know that there was plenty of soul-searching.

Despite illustrating a satire on the Bush administration’s handling of the run-up to the war, I have counted myself among the “pro-war” left for some time – and that has taken, and still takes, quite a bit of soul-searching. There are no easy answers here, no morally pure[spit] position. But these particular horrors will end, and end soon. The horrors that Saddam inflicted on his people would not have ended any time soon.

At least Martin (unlike myself), makes his point quickly and concisely. A few days earlier, Carson Fire, who I have quite a few reasons to call my friend even if I’ve never met him in the flesh, wrote a rambling post trying to make several points at once. The main point, as far as I can tell, was to portray himself as a lone right-wing voice in a vast left-wing wilderness of webcartoonists:

My fellow webcartoonists who sit on the “other side of the aisle” have been quite vocal for some time, now, and it just seems like it’s a good thing to let you all know that we’re not all marching in lockstep.

No, Carson, webcartoonists are not all marching in lockstep. You make it seem like we’re all some sort of Borg hive-mind that only allows for leftist voices. As if Jeff Darlington, Jim Alexander, Howard Tayler, Syke, Ryan Higgins, Scott Kurz, Ian MacDonald, Sarah Huntrods and Kaichi Satake for goodness’ sake are chopped liver. Some of them are very vocal, others are not. All of them have made their opinions known at opportunities of their choosing, and will do so again. It may surprise Carson to know that there are also left-wing cartoonists who choose not to voice their political opinions on their sites, for reasons that concern them only.

But the extent of Carson’s selective blindness is revealed in the following two paragraphs:

And you can see who gets all the press for cartoonists these days… vile voices like Aaron McGruder and Ted Rall. While some on the left are shocked that Ann Coulter is allowed to live, McGruder and Rall spread some of the most wicked vitriol into the mainstream, and under cover of little drawings.

[paragraph snipped]

Rall is the kind of cartoonist who’s syndicated, oh, just everywhere, and gets nominated for Pulitzer Prizes. Even an embarrassed MSNBC had to yank the feed last week when the Tillman cartoon surfaced. To many Americans, who detest leftist-hate rants, this is the face of modern American cartooning.

These are striking for what they don’t say:
1. That the amount of vitriol expended by the left on Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and her ilk is matched drop for drop, if not more, by the right’s response to Rall, McGruder or Michael Moore for that matter. Duh!
2. That the press Rall in particular gets isn’t universally positive among the American left (the international left isn’t aware of him).
Andrew Sullivan, a much more astute conservative commentator than Carson, has kept tabs on left-wing bloggers distancing themselves from Rall – he missed some that were made earlier and undoubtedly there are many more. The ones that he mentioned include some prominent left bloggers. I don’t think the many people denouncing him regularly in The Comics Journal forums and Talk About Comics are all raving reactionaries either.

My point with this long ramble that took almost two hours to put together? Like the Jacobean theatre-goer said when London’s two theaters both featured Romeo and Juliet: “A pox on both houses”. If you post political opinion on a weblog, be prepared to do some legwork. Don’t just read those sources that confirm your own prejudices about your opponents – and steer clear of the fringes of both (or rather, all) sides.

2 replies on “Myopia to the left of me, short-sightedness to the right!”

  1. Eep! Didn’t mean to touch a nerve, Reinder, but you’re mischaracterizing what I said… maybe because it hit a nerve. But please note that I never said that webcartoonists are marching in lockstep; I said “cartoonists”, meaning more generally cartoonists in print, at large, well known, etc, whom the biggest political stars tend to be on the left: Doonesbury, Boondocks, Rall, uh, reaching further back, Herblock, whose rivalry with Nixon was legendary. The biggest right-leaning political star in print/newspapers now is… who? Mallard Fillmore? Ramirez in LA is right-sympathetic, but I’m not sure he can be quite characterized as a star, although he got some national press when one of his pro-Bush cartoons was interpreted as anti-Bush (with a gun to Bush’s head, yet).

    Even if we were talking more specifically about webcartoonists, my statement was that, for the benefit of my readers, I wanted to let them know that we’re not all walking in lockstep. Well. We aren’t. 😀 I’m not really sure what we disagree with there, as you are saying the same thing. The only diff is that I said it specifically as a message to some casual readers who may be seeing a lot of the Rall/Boondocks stuff lately.

    The list of webcartoonists you mentioned on the right is accurate, but they’re not all particularly vocal about politics. Kai is only once in a blue moon. Contrast that to my pal Chris Crosby (who is my pal, despite the fact that our politics are assymetrical) who has explored politics forever in Superosity and, if anything, amplified it in Sore Thumbs. That kind of thing is find, but, honestly, how many cartoonists at Keenspot reach that level of politicking through their comics?

  2. Hey, Reinder! Hope you’re not still mad about this… but not to hector the topic to death, I’ve also just been reminded about another artist in the news: Micah Wright

    Pundits know this name now who were probably previously unaware of names of most of comics’ luminaries. Wright lied to the press about being a ranger in order to pump up the legitimacy of his anti-war work.

    Does this mean that Wright represents all cartoonists “walking in lockstep”? Heavens to Betsy, no! — which, again, was just my point in my original post, which seemed to rub you the wrong way.

    But I’m not trying to make you concede your point… just concede that we’re actually in agreement, and I’m not just some troll over here shooting off my mouth about things I don’t know about, although there is quite a bit more in the world I still need to know. 🙂

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