The brilliant cartoonist Michael Ramirez of Investor’s Business Daily drops by the new Red Eye-style series Flipside with Michael Loftus and explains how he and his editor joined the protest march outside of the awards ceremony for one of Ramirez’s Pulitzers. Click above to watch; Ramirez appears about ten minutes in.
“Obamacare is losing altitude,” notes Mr. Obama’s hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune:
Abbott Laboratories chief executive Miles White said something last Tuesday that should jolt tens of millions of Americans who watch from a comfortable distance as the giant Obamacare blimp ignites and tumbles to the ground. These Americans are safely ensconced in employer-provided health care coverage — for now. But there are “clear incentives for companies to drop their health care plans and move people onto the exchanges,” White told analysts at a luncheon, referring to the disastrously cranky and unreliable online insurance marketplaces created under Obamacare. “I can tell you that the employees of Abbott or AbbVie (the pharmaceutical firm Abbott spun off in January) are going to be pretty unhappy about that, you know, if we did that,” White said. If President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders think the outcry against Obamacare is fierce now, watch if millions more Americans get blindsided with the news that they’ll be forced into these dysfunctional government online marketplaces. Some will face higher premiums or higher deductibles, and they’ll be required to share private medical and financial information on a website with a questionable security firewall, opening them to fraudsters, hackers and cyberchaos.
But heaven forfend anyone call the president — who uses words like “tea-baggers” in missives dispatched on official White House stationary to voters — ideological, Rich Lowry writes at the Politico, in a piece aptly titled “The Bad-Faith Presidency:”
The president styles himself a committed pragmatist. At a fundraiser outside of Seattle the other day, he averred, “I’m not a particularly ideological person.” He just happened to risk Democratic control of Congress to advance the cause of nationalized health insurance. And happened to insist on the left-most plausible version of the law. And happened to defend it with every power at his disposal. In private, as I wrote here, the president admits that he has kept his true ideological self carefully under wraps. According to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, the authors of Double Down, Obama brought up climate change in a political strategy meeting in 2011 as an example of his undue caution. “Maybe I should just come out and say what I really feel about this,” he said. “Maybe I should just go out and say what I think about everything.” As a crazy thought experiment, his aides let him dabble with heart-felt sincerity. He brought a list to the next meeting of causes dear to him, all of which were liberal clichés: climate change, immigration reform, poverty, Israeli-Palestinian peace, closing Gitmo, and gay marriage. Only the very last, gay marriage, made a major appearance in the presidential campaign because he couldn’t bear any longer to hide what he really thought about it. He knew the danger of too much forthrightness.
But he’s hoping his supporters will be forthright in their blind enthusiasm for his signature program tomorrow, when they go to break bread and eat turkey (and/or Vegan substitutes thereof) with the non-believers. Or as Betsy Newmark writes today, “Liberals have a different view of Thanksgiving:”
What kind of view of the family do liberals have that they are urging their followers to take advantage of Thanksgiving get-togethers to propagandize their family with “the talk.” When I was growing up, “the talk” was not something that happened at the dinner table and it didn’t concern health insurance. It certainly didn’t include people downloading talking points from the President’s activism website to have that “talk.” But times change. The DCCC also has recommendations for to say for that “crazy Tea Party Relative (or two) who just loves bashing President Obama” that “we all have.” My experience is that liberals are much more likely to bring up their political opinions and just assume that everyone agrees with them. Maybe that is because I work with teachers, who trend liberal, and most of the rest of my family beyond my immediate relatives, are Democrats. I tend to not bring up my political beliefs at all unless asked and I try to be pretty low key. I know I’m in the political minority at work and I also don’t believe in spouting off about politics in front of students. And I really see such assumptions that every teacher must be liberal when I’m at seminars or symposia of teachers. But time after time, I’ve heard others make statements that just assume that everyone is on the same page with them. It is as if it doesn’t even occur to them that someone they know and work with could hold a different political position. I still remember the horror expressed in the teacher seminar I attend the day after the 1994 elections. It was as if it didn’t occur to any of those teachers that there might be a Republican in their midst who was happy about those results. I shudder to imagine how uncomfortable it would be if I looked at these interactions as opportunities to spout political talking points. But the left looks at such gatherings differently.
Which why Aleister of American Glob has produced these helpful conversational tips for “How To Talk To Your Socialist Aunt About ObamaCare On Thanksgiving.”
Talk slowly and calmly; the amount of flop sweat emanating from the White House and onto its true belivers must be palpable right now. For everyone else, have a joyous Thanksgiving, starting with this holiday classic about a very different turkey that falls to earth:
Over the weekend, Bill Keller had the temerity to assign some blame for the sequester to President Obama. Within a day, the left’s commentariat had settled the issue in Obama’s favor, each linking to the other and repeating the claim that Keller was all wrong. Over at the Huffington Post, Jason Linkins summarized this group effort as a “Marvel team-up”:
It takes a Marvel team-up of three different reporters, from three different news organizations, to perform this elementary act of real-keeping. Meanwhile, Bill Keller can, in one column, undo the work of Harwood, his New York Times colleague.
– “The Progressive Left’s Marvel Team-Up Act,” John Sexton on the Breitbart.com Conversation blog, Monday.
“The latest excuse for Obama: Basic political competence is a superhuman power.”
– James Taranto’s Best of the Web column, the Wall Street Journal, today.
“Technology is starting to give us superpowers once reserved for comic-book heroes.”
– The Washington Post’s Slate Website, on Monday.
It’s Stan Lee’s world; we’re just living in it apparently.
The Road to Serfdom, cartoon-style, from General Motors, circa 1945 — which makes for an awfully ironic sponsor, both then and now.
Though the ending has been toned down a bit over the years — these days, European central planning doesn’t always (SPOILER ALERT!) lead to being shot. Instead, sometimes you’re merely deposited into “scum village” — or camps of concentration, as they were once known in less enlightened days.
Allow me to head deep into the geek rabbit hole — but only because you’re about to go much, much further down there yourself in a moment.
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the first computer I owned was a Radio Shack TRS-80, on which I played plenty of Scott Adams’ early text-based “Adventure” games. They were fun — and increasingly challenging; but limited in scope by the pitiful amount of the TRS-80′s memory. Then I bought my first modem and started exploring Compuserve, circa 1981 or ’82. Compuserve had its own version of “Adventure,” and it seeemed huuuuuuge in comparison to the Adams games — still text-based, but the amount of rooms, castles, caves and forests that could be explored seemed endless.
In a post on his blog today, Moe Lane of Red State links to cartoonist Randall Munroe, who has created what feels like that Compuserve Adventure experience — a cartoon that just goes on endlessly — and I mean endlessly — with loads of geeked out gags and in-jokes (including a shot at Boston’s own Fauxcahontas, Elizabeth Warren, incidentally) to stumble over. Fortunately, one of Monroe’s fans created a zoomable map of (hopefully) the whole terrain, but to get a sense of the scope of the whole thing as the artist intended, I urge you to start here and as Monroe suggests in his cartoon’s title, click and drag first, before hitting the Cliff’s Notes version. As I said to my wife, the whole thing feels like what a cross between the Compuserve Adventure game, and Gary Larson’s “Far Side” cartoon meets those run-on scribbled diaries with microscope text written by Kevin Spacey’s “John Doe” character in the film Seven.
With perhaps more than a hint of a double rainbow, maaaaaan along the way — it’s been a very long time since I’ve used that trite late-’60s/early-’70s phrase “mind blowing” to describe anything, but this certainly comes close.
“The gun just went off!” My wife and I often joke about the story she heard at a cocktail party from an attorney defending a client for murdering her husband, who blurted out that excuse as a motive. “I didn’t kill him — the gun [which for some unexplainable reason I happened to be pointing at his heart] — just went off!”
The Islamic world somehow professes to believe that The Film Just Went Off. Followed previously by The Book Just Went Off, and The Magazine Article Just Went Off, and the Cartoon Just Went Off. As if these inanimate objects possess special talismanic powers that can magically inflame the True Believer’s heart. (Funny though, how those who follow other faiths simply stand there, grit their teeth, and take it, when they’re offended, as highlighted by the spectacularly not safe for work Onion cartoon that’s currently making the rounds.)
And the media isn’t immune to such magical thinking either: “Mitt Romney Kept Us From Reporting on Security Failures!”
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Talk about the conservative critique–and I think it’s a fair critique, the conservative critique: that all you guys in the media were talking about Mitt Romney, you should have talked about the warnings with the embassy, etc., etc. And yes perhaps we should have. But you know who didn’t allow us to do that?
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Mitt Romney.
SCARBOROUGH: Mitt Romney. If Mitt Romney had kept his mouth shut, if he had not acted like a rank amateur, if he had not embarrassed himself–and by the way internally the campaign understands they screwed up, he’s moved on, they know that. So no conservative can say “oh, the mainstream media, blah, blah.” They know how badly they screwed up, and they were having the fight internally before he even went out and did it. But Romney got in the way of the media looking at the president, going, wha-, wha-, what happened here? How did this happen? Now, those questions are going to be asked in the coming weeks. But they weren’t asked in the first 24 hours because Romney was holding this horrific, irresponsible, press conference.
Or as Joe and Mika’s fellow MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews tweeted on September 12th:
The tragedy in Benghazi that cost Ambassador Stevens his life has been overshadowed by the desperate reach by Mitt Romney
Related: Ed Morrissey flashes back to growing up in the small southern California town of Cerritos, now the home of this week’s Emmanuel Goldstein (or wannabe Bill Maher, depending upon your point of view) to explain how “Media endangers entire neighborhood to pursue thoughtcrime suspect.” As to why they would want to do such a thing, Ace has you covered: “How To Not Solve A Problem But Get The Public To Think You Did.”
Back in 2010, in an essay titled, “Our Puritanical Progressives,” George Will flashed back to the days of the toughest Super-Villain Batman and Robin went up against in the 1950s, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham. Today, many comic book fans likely think of Wertham as some sort of arch-conservative member of the biblical Moral Majority; Will reminded readers that he was nothing of the sort:
In 1954, Fredric Wertham brought science — very loosely defined — to the subject of juvenile crime. Formerly chief resident in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, he was politically progressive: When he opened a clinic in Harlem, he named it for Paul Lafargue, Karl Marx’s son-in-law who translated portions of “Das Kapital” into French, thereby facilitating the derangement of Parisian intellectuals.
Without ever interviewing the convicted spy Ethel Rosenberg, Wertham testified on her behalf concerning what he called her “prison psychoses.” Since 1948, he had been campaigning against comic books, and his 1954 book, “Seduction of the Innocent,” which was praised by the progressive sociologist C. Wright Mills, became a bestseller by postulating a causal connection between comic books and the desensitization of young criminals: “Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic-book industry.”
Wertham was especially alarmed about the one-third of comic books that were horror comics, but his disapproval was capacious: Superman, who gave short shrift to due process in his crime-fighting, was a crypto-fascist. As for Batman and Robin, the “homoerotic tendencies” were patent.
Flash-forward to today, and this headline at the Huffington Post, hard at work on solving the pressing issues of mankind: “Batman Is Gay: Comic Writer Grant Morrison Says Concept Of Superhero Character Is ‘Sexually Deviant:’”
Action Comics writer Grant Morrison, who is best known for revamping DC Comics’ family of Batman titles, spoke at length about comic superheroes in an interview with Playboy magazine, confirming maybe those Batman and Robin rumors aren’t so far-fetched after all, because the title character is “very, very gay.”
“He’s very plutonian in the sense that he’s wealthy and also in the sense that he’s sexually deviant,” Morrison told the magazine. “Gayness is built into Batman. I’m not using gay in the pejorative sense, but Batman is very, very gay. There’s just no denying it. Obviously as a fictional character he’s intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay.”
Well, as most of you have noticed at this point:
Stuff you used to joke about as a kid = now a “serious” thing
And never forget (or else):
Speaking of which…
“Left’s Attempt At Their Own ClimateGate Based on Forged Document?”, as pondered by Ace of Spades:
Megan McArdle was, to my knowledge, the first to raise red flags over the authenticity of documents from the Heartland Institute, supposedly showing them acting all evil and stuff about the climate.
Most of the documents are real and are fairly bland. But one memo is in dispute. This memo, by McArdle’s reading, seems written not from the point of view of a climate change skeptic — who would naturally see himself as the good guy — but from the point of view of a climate change zealot impersonating a climate change skeptic — and is thus written, oddly, as if the person doing the writing believes himself to be a bad guy.
(My own take: I skipped this because I think the Likely Forged Document itself is pretty bland, too. If this is an attempt at a takedown, it seems pretty subtle to me. But subsequent events seem to show that Megan McArdle was likely right and my lack of interest was likely wrong.)
5. The worldview is different. In my experience, climate skeptics see themselves as a beleaguered minority fighting for truth and justice against the powerful, and nearly monolithic, forces of the establishment. They are David, to the climate scientists’ Goliaths. This is basically what the authenticated documents sound like.The memo, by contrast, uses more negative language about the efforts it’s describing, while trying to sound like they think it’s positive. It’s like the opposition political manifestos found in novels written by stolid ideologues; they can never quite bear (or lack the imagination) to let the villains have a good argument. Switch the names, and the memo could have been a page ripped out of State of Fear or Atlas Shrugged.
Basically, it reads like it was written from the secret villain lair in a Batman comic. By an intern.
McArdle’s theory is that the real information (bland stuff about donors) was in fact obtained by some lefty, but it wasn’t juicy enough. So someone faked up a Memo, basically a digest of the information in the other documents (or through Google), but wrote about that information in the most negative way possible, in order to juice up a pretty weak leak.
Stacy McCain adds, “In Apologizing for Global Warming Hoax, Peter Gleick Blames His Victims”:
The Heartland Institute was victimized by global warming fanatics who published stolen documents and at least one forged document in their attempts to portray the Institute as dishonest.
One of the central figures in this criminal hoax was Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, who uses the Huffington Post to offer an excuse:
My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.
“It’s not my fault!” The end justify the means: The alleged evil of their opponents excuses any shoddy smear Gleick and his allies may perpetrate against them. And despite their admitted amorality, they wonder why we doubt their claims to “science”?
If it turns out that Gleick had a 2012 RatherGate moment, it wouldn’t be the first time that radical environmentalism has cooked the books, as we’ll discuss on the following page.
H.L. Mencken, in The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:
NIETZSCHE was a preacher’s son, brought up in the fear of the Lord. It is the ideal training for sham-smashers and freethinkers. Let a boy of alert, restless intelligence come to early manhood in an atmosphere of strong faith, wherein doubts are blasphemies and inquiry is a crime, and rebellion is certain to appear with his beard. So long as his mind feels itself puny beside the overwhelming pomp and circumstance of parental authority, he will remain docile and even pious. But so soon as he begins to see authority as something ever finite, variable and all-too-human – when he begins to realize that his father and his mother, in the last analysis, are mere human beings, and fallible like himself – then he will fly precipitately toward the intellectual wailing places, to think his own thoughts in his own way and to worship his own gods beneath the open sky.
As a child Nietzsche was holy; as a man he was the symbol and embodiment of all unholiness. At nine he was already versed in the lore of the reverend doctors, and the pulpit, to his happy mother – a preacher’s daughter as well as a preacher’s wife – seemed his logical and lofty goal; at thirty he was chief among those who held that all pulpits should be torn down and fashioned into bludgeons, to beat out the silly brains of theologians.
But while Nietzsche declared that “God is Dead” in 1882 (God would seem to provide a rejoinder 18 years later), everyone in pop culture seems determined to pose as His son. The most recent example was spotted at Glenn Beck’s perhaps appropriately named Website, The Blaze. “Atheist Comedian Ricky Gervais Poses as Jesus in ‘Blasphemous’ Mag Cover:”
Scratch a “Progressive,” find an anti-Semite. Or as Zombie writes at the Tatler:
As you may have heard by now, San Francisco will be voting this November on whether or not to ban circumcision in the city.
Defenders of the measure say it’s all about “human rights” and “protecting babies” from unnecessary procedures.
But critics suspected there was something vaguely anti-Semitic about the whole proposal, since among Jews (and Muslims, as well) circumcising male babies is a religious duty, not just a mistaken medical procedure.
Ban proponents insisted their proposal had nothing to do with Jews — really, it’s all about the rights of children.
Well, any doubt that they were lying have now been dispelled, with the publication of new campaign literature for the upcoming circumcision ban. The campaign comic book, called “Foreskin Man,” after its baby-saving superhero, features a litany of evil Jews doing battle with blond Nordic saviors.
Click over to Zombie’s post for the artwork, which is as bad — and stereotyped — as you might imagine. (Hint: the baddy is called “Monster Mohel,” and looks like he’s just stepped off the set of Der ewige Jude.)
Speaking of which, as Bay Area blogger Bookworm Room writes:
I often say I’m shocked by something that crosses my computer screen, but that’s not really true. I mean, I probably sort of shocked insofar as I’m surprised that someone has behaved according to type, but in an extreme way, or that something I’ve long assumed would happen actually did happen (or, in a surprising way, didn’t happen). But I’m very seldom shocked to the core of my being. Today, though, I was shocked, shaken really, by an email Zombie sent me.
Zombie has gotten hold of some of the campaign literature from those supporting the circumcision ban that made its way onto San Francisco’s November ballot. I am not kidding when I say that the material is indistinguishable from something the Nazis would have prepared.
San Francisco in a very insulated, in its own way provincial little enclave where people are accustomed to thinking that everyone around them shares the same opinion. I am choosing to believe, for now, that this is merely the case of one person with vile views overconfidently overreaching within that community, and that he’ll be slapped down. If he’s not, then it might be time to get very worried, because, as someone mentioned in an email exchange:
San Francisco has always been a loony city, but it’s also been a leader. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, my educational process started decaying big time, as the SF schools abandoned traditional teaching in favor of all the “new” theories coming out of the educational Left. Although we stopped learning, those failed techniques became de riguer in public education and are a large part of what’s driving our failing schools. Where San Francisco leads, even if off a cliff, too many other cities, anxious to appear forward looking, follow.
Of course, Frisco has already gone off a cliff in one very real sense. I mean, it’s not like there are many newborns left in the city these days to circumcise anyhow.
Update: At Hot Air, J.E. Dyer notes:
Some readers have pointed out that Muslims also perform ritual circumcision. The practice is widespread and has religious significance as evidence of following the practices of Abraham. I suspect we’ll be waiting for a while to see a comic depicting an evil imam attacking a baby boy.
She certainly fooled me: “Nikki Haley Is a Racist White Man. Or Something,” Jesse Hathaway quips at NewsReal:
This is just another example of the paradox that can not be solved by progressive thought—if one accepts, as an a priori principle that conservatism is racism, then how can one explain Nikki Haley, Allen West, Tim Scott, Ken Blackwell, Thomas Sowell or any of the growing number of, as Jones phrases it, “non-white” conservatives that shouldn’t—but, frustratingly, do—exist.
Or as the Christian Science Monitor describes Lila Rose:
“The ultimate goal of this new generation of right-wing muckrakers is the overthrow of the perceived liberal-leaning mainstream media narrative on touchstone political issues such as guns, racism, and abortion. Rose casts her work in light of the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, and her videos are the tinder for peaceful social insurrection.”
I’d say it’s a rather strong perception these days.
A suspected suicide bomber was killed and two people were injured Saturday in blasts that rocked a popular shopping district in Stockholm, the Swedish capital.A car parked at a crowded intersection in central Stockholm exploded about 4:50 p.m., followed by another blast a short distance away, Swedish news media reports said. At the scene of the second explosion, a witness reported finding a young man on the sidewalk with wounds to his midsection and a Palestinian kaffiyeh-style scarf tied around his face. The man, who has not been identified, later died.
…The car that exploded had contained several gas canisters, police said. Video shows a white vehicle engulfed in flames in the late afternoon darkness.
A few minutes later, another explosion is heard nearby. A witness told Dagens Nyheter newspaper that he ran to the scene and found a badly wounded man in his 20s lying on his back on the sidewalk, with a length of pipe next to him.
“It looked as if the man had carried something that exploded on his stomach. … My first thought was that the man was a terrorist,” said the witness, who identified himself only as Pascal. “His chest moved a couple of times, but I couldn’t get a pulse. I removed a Palestinian scarf from his face … but it was too late.”
Two people suffered minor injuries, although it was unclear from which blast.
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey discounts initial reports that the dead terrorist was seeking retribution for The Cartoons That Dare Not Show Their Pixels or for Sweden’s role in Afghanistan:
The cartoons again? That seems pretty thin, given the amount of time that has passed. Sweden has around 500 troops in Afghanistan, none of which are combat units. They hardly seem like a sufficient target for terrorists’ ire, which suggests that perhaps the terrorists are looking mainly for targets of opportunity, and mainly an excuse for mayhem.
The BBC reported that the dead man had pipe bombs on his body, which may mean that the terrorist’s incompetence took care of the problem before any further damage could be done. Assuming this turns out to be true, it could have been the start of an attempt to create a “12/11″ in Sweden. We’ll keep an eye out for any more developments.
At Big Peace, Ned May dubs the incident an attempt at “Christmas Jihad in Stockholm.”
Update: Responding to the Swedish Foreign Minister’s description of the attack, Claire Berlinski asks at Ricochet, “And This Was a ‘Failed’ Terrorist Attack How?”
“Ted Rall Calls for Armed Revolution; MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Offers His Endorsement of the Idea,” Ace writes:
I don’t want to ever hear a goddamn thing from the left about the supposed tendency to violent solutions on the right.
Not a goddamn thing. Ratigan should be fired immediately.
Here’s an excerpt from Rall’s book that Ratigan is pimping:
A war is coming. At stake: our lives, the planet, freedom, living. The government, the corporations, and the extreme right are prepared to coalesce into an Axis of Evil. Are you going to fight back? Will you do whatever it takes, including taking up arms?…
You know what it reminds me of?
Update: Stacy McCain adds, “Watching that video of Ted Rall being interviewed by Dylan Ratigan, I’m wondering why Columbia University (where the tuition is $40,000 a year) can’t teach basic economics:”
Rall speaks of “1% of the country owning 24% of the income” and “people getting thrown out of their homes, over 10 million of them.”Ted, they’re not getting thrown out of their homes. They’re getting thrown out of the mortgage company’s homes. It’s not your home until you pay for it. If you’re living in a $300,000 house and you don’t make the payments, that $300,000 house isn’t yours anymore. And it never really was.
Ted Rall and Barack Obama: Columbia University graduates who can’t grasp basic concepts like property ownership.
In Ted and Barry’s minds, doesn’t it all belong to the state, anyhow?
As we mentioned on Saturday, leftwing artists of the 19th and 20th century invented the concept of “épater le bourgeois” — shocking the middle-class.
But that was before certain select segments of the target audience decided to paint their own targets on the backs of the artists — and in some cases, carried through on their threats.
In the New York Times (of all places), Ross Douthat does a tremendous job standing in the shadows of Mo-toons. He places the latest incident involving radical Islam versus South Park and the rest of the American legacy media into context, particularly in terms of how much freedom of speech has been lost since 9/11.
And in the U.S. at least, all via entirely self-inflicted wounds:
Two months before 9/11, Comedy Central aired an episode of “South Park” entitled “Super Best Friends,” in which the cartoon show’s foul-mouthed urchins sought assistance from an unusual team of superheroes. These particular superfriends were all religious figures: Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Mormonism’s Joseph Smith, Taoism’s Lao-tse — and the Prophet Muhammad, depicted with a turban and a 5 o’clock shadow, and introduced as “the Muslim prophet with the powers of flame.”
That was a more permissive time. You can’t portray Muhammad on American television anymore, as South Park’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, discovered in 2006, when they tried to parody the Danish cartoon controversy — in which unflattering caricatures of the prophet prompted worldwide riots — by scripting another animated appearance for Muhammad. The episode aired, but the cameo itself was blacked out, replaced by an announcement that Comedy Central had refused to show an image of the prophet.
For Parker and Stone, the obvious next step was to make fun of the fact that you can’t broadcast an image of Muhammad. Two weeks ago, “South Park” brought back the “super best friends,” but this time Muhammad never showed his face. He “appeared” from inside a U-Haul trailer, and then from inside a mascot’s costume.
These gimmicks then prompted a writer for the New York-based Web site revolutionmuslim.com to predict that Parker and Stone would end up like Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker murdered in 2004 for his scathing critiques of Islam. The writer, an American convert to Islam named Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, didn’t technically threaten to kill them himself. His post, and the accompanying photo of van Gogh’s corpse, was just “a warning … of what will likely happen to them.”
This passive-aggressive death threat provoked a swift response from Comedy Central. In last week’s follow-up episode, the prophet’s non-appearance appearances were censored, and every single reference to Muhammad was bleeped out. The historical record was quickly scrubbed as well: The original “Super Best Friends” episode is no longer available on the Internet.
As Douthat concludes, “This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that ‘bravely’ trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.”
Definitely read the whole thing.
As longtime readers know, I have enormous respect for the Democrats as masters of the politics of personal destruction. What a track record! “Bushitler,” “General Betray-Us,” — excellent stuff, up there with Oscar Wilde. But this is, like, a whole new level: Bill Clinton is on the road demonizing (and with an impressively straight face) half the American people as the express lane to ka-boom! And the poodle media are taking it seriously.
Meanwhile, Comedy Central — you know, the “hip,” “edgy” network with Jon Stewart, from whom “young” Americans under 53 supposedly get most of their news — just caved in to death threats. From a hateful 83-year-old widow who doesn’t like Obamacare? Why, no! It was a chap called Abu Talhah al Amrikee, who put up a video on the Internet explaining why a South Park episode with a rather tame Mohammed joke was likely to lead to the deaths of the show’s creators. Just to underline the point, he showed some pictures of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film director brutally murdered by (oh, my, talk about unfortunate coincidences) a fellow called Mohammed. Mr. al Amrikee helpfully explained that his video incitement of the murder of Matt Stone and Trey Parker wasn’t really “a threat but just the likely outcome.” All he was doing, he added, was “raising awareness” — you know, like folks do on Earth Day. On Earth Day, lame politicians dig a hole and stick a tree in it. But aggrieved Muslims dig a hole and stick a couple of comedy writers in it. Celebrate diversity!
Faced with this explicit threat of violence, what did Comedy Central do? Why, they folded like a Bedouin tent. They censored South Park, not only cutting all the references to Mohammed but, in an exquisitely postmodern touch, also removing the final speech about the need to stand up to intimidation.
Stone and Parker get what was at stake in the Danish-cartoons crisis and many other ostensibly footling concessions: Imperceptibly, incrementally, remorselessly, the free world is sending the message that it is happy to trade core liberties for the transitory security of a quiet life. That is a dangerous signal to give freedom’s enemies. So the South Park episode is an important cultural pushback.
Yet in the end, in a craven culture, even big Hollywood A-listers can’t get their message over. So the brave, transgressive comedy network was intimidated into caving in and censoring a speech about not being intimidated into caving in. That’s what I call “hip,” “edgy,” “cutting-edge” comedy: They’re so edgy they’re curled up in the fetal position, whimpering at the guy with the cutting edge, “Please. Behead me last. And don’t use the rusty scimitar where you have to saw away for 20 minutes to find the spinal column . . . ”
Terrific. You can see why young, urban, postmodern Americans under 57 get most of their news from Comedy Central. What a shame 1930s Fascist Europe was so lacking in cable.
Fifteen years ago, Bill Clinton set out to hang Timothy McVeigh around the necks of talk radio and, with a further stretch, Newt and the congressional Republicans. It was an act of contemptible but undeniably brilliant opportunism. It worked out so well for him that a couple of years later, after the Princess of Wales’s fatal car crash, George Stephanopoulos enthused to Christopher Hitchens: “Tony Blair’s handling this really well. This is his Oklahoma City.” As Hitchens remarked, this is the way these people think.
Which works fine when you’re up against phantom enemies of the kind Clinton preferred to take on while giving real threats the run of the planet. If the tea partiers were truly the murderous goons they’ve been portrayed as, they would draw the obvious lesson from the kid gloves with which Comedy Central strokes Islam. They would say, “Enough with peaceful rallies where we pick up the litter afterwards. Let’s just threaten to decapitate someone. You get more respect that way. At least from the media.”
But they won’t do that. Because, notwithstanding their outrageous demonization by the media, they’re not terrorists. So, in the end, Comedy Central has incentivized Islamic violence and nothing much else. Nevertheless, we should be grateful to its jelly-spined executives for reminding us that the cardboard heroes of the American media are your go-to guys for standing up to entirely fictitious threats. But for real ones? Not so much.
Elsewhere, Ann Althouse has a blog post whose title sounds like it could a high concept pitch for a new Comedy Central or MTV “reality” series over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the Sherry-Netherland: “Is radical Muslim the new Goth?”
As Diana West writes, “For rejecting both the threat of violence and the emotional blackmail emanating from Islam over critiquing Islam’s prophet”, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the two South Park creators, “deserve a medal.” But don’t expect them to get much help from the rest of the legacy media — no matter which side of the aisle their fellow broadcasters are on:
“They’re courageous — no doubt that they are,” said Bill O’Reilly of Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor” this week. He was discussing the Islamic death threats against Parker and Stone that, naturally, followed the recent “South Park” Muhammad episode.
The threats came in a jihadist video (caption: “Help Us Remove the Filth”) portraying the writer-producers as likely victims of Islamic violence along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks. A photo of the slain body of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, his head nearly cut off on an Amsterdam, Netherlands, street in 2004 by a jihadist assassin, served as an example.
Rather than praise Parker’s and Stone’s courage, however, O’Reilly went on to disparage their judgment.
“Was it the smart thing to do in light of the Danish cartoonist and van Gogh?” he asked. “It’s harmless to me,” he continued about the episode in question. “But if you are a hard-core jihadist, any mention of Muhammad in any kind of way, particularly if you’re poking fun at him, is a capital offense.”
According to whose law, Bill — Islam’s or ours? Or is our law now Islamic? Those are the question citizens of the Western world need to hear discussed.
But not on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
“See, I would have advised them not to do it,” O’Reilly continued, “because the risk is higher than the reward.”
One reason there is such a high “risk” is because media people such as O’Reilly left Westergaard and now the “South Park” creators, as Parker put it, “out to dry.” All media in America should have reproduced Westergaard’s cartoon, just as all media in American should now applaud Parker and Stone for their defense of free speech against Sharia.
Surely it is O’Reilly’s responsibility as a leading broadcaster to do that small bit to keep the airwaves free.
Alas, this man of the folks doesn’t see it that way. “You don’t want to give in to the intimidating forces of evil,” he said. “But you got to deal with reality. And these people are killers and they will kill you.”
In other words, shut up about Muhammad, and everything will be fine — or at least Islamic.
Back in 2007, Ace of Spades asked a great question: have the same people who would catch a serious case of the vapors if you asked them about God and politics essentially created a de facto state-sanctioned religion in America in their tacit defense of Islamofascism?
Ezra Levant writes that Canadian TV finally showed the Mohammed cartoons this month:
Four years ago, the Western Standard was one of the only media in Canada (or indeed North America) to show our readers the news of the season, namely the Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Those cartoons were newsworthy because they had “caused” rioting around the world that killed nearly 250 people in the month of February, 2006, alone.
You can see all the cartoons here. This one is probably the most famous, drawn by Kurt Westergaard:
That shouldn’t be remarkable — it’s just plain old journalism to show TV viewers the central image in a story about a cartoon. But, given the nearly uniform, self-imposed censorship of 2006, it’s worth congratulating CTV, Smith and his producers. Good for them — and good for all of us.
Hey, that puts Canadian TV one up on the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University.
Incidentally, the Objectivist-themed New Individualist magazine, which ran several of my articles, also featured the above cartoon on one of their covers back in 2006, making them one of a very few magazines in the US to run the cartoon. And Ezra Levant’s efforts to break the back of Canadian censorship was the subject of my very first Silicon Graffiti video, in January of 2008.
For much more on The Cartoons That Dare Not Show Their Face, scroll through “The Cartoon Kingdom” archives on the original iteration of my blog.
Over at his “Roger’s Rules” blog here at PJM HQ, he provides “A word of homage to Chris Muir” — and not just a single word, but many of them, in well-crafted sentences, parapgraphs, and even the occasional nested parenthetical:
It’s been some time since I have mentioned the cartoonist Chris Muir. The Florida-based dispenser of drollerie and savvy social commentary, now in his early 50s, is a politically mature version of Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonsbury. Muir’s family of characters is as yet smaller than Trudeau’s. He does not have the extravagant silliness of the 60s drug and protest culture as a prop and inspiration for absurd (yet somehow lovable) characters. But whereas Doonsbury ran out of gas in the Clinton years — if only, Trudeau seems to have felt, Monica Lewinski had interned during a Republican administration! — Chris Muir is just now hitting his stride.
If you’re a cartoonist, American politics — American culture generally — is a gift that just keeps on giving. With the ascent of Barack Obama, it is the return of Santa Claus about once a week. So much material, so little time! Chris Muir makes the most of it, delighting his growing circle of readers in the process.
Quite apart from his notable graphic abilities, what sets Muir apart from most of his fellow entertainers is his allergy to the poison of political correctness. He has a clear grasp of the dangers of what Tocqueville called “democratic despotism,” what conservatives today are likely to congregate under the rubric of “big government.” Muir pokes fun at pomposity and excess wherever he finds it, but he is perhaps at his best and most trenchant when exposing the sinister underside of the illiberal liberalism that has come to define the Democratic party of the early twenty-first century.
I heartily concur; for my video interview with Chris from this past summer, click here:
Dispatches from the cartoon wars:
“We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands.”
- American Association of University Professors, criticizing Yale Press over the Danish cartoons