Archive for August, 2019

What You Do Not Do for One of These Least…

What You Do Not Do for One of These Least...
Editorial Cartoon — Michigan Radio

I’m sure you are well aware of the terrible things happening in the world recently — mass shootings, violent protests, family separations, economic slowdowns — the list (unfortunately) goes on. It can be difficult to get through a day carrying all these around with you. I try to be aware of what’s going on, but keep some healthy distance so I’m not wrecked.

But the one story that did get to me was the deportation and subsequent death of Jimmy Al-Daoud. Michigan Radio and the Detroit Free Press have full stories, but to summarize briefly: 

In the 1970s Mr. Al-Daoud came to the United States as a baby with his Iraqi Chaldean family to escape religious persecution. He grew up in Michigan. Mr. Al-Daoud suffered from mental illness and eventually diabetes. He had a criminal record, mostly petty theft, but with some more serious charges, which involved disputes with his father. Because of these criminal convictions he was deported on June 2nd by ICE to Iraq. Mr. Al-Daoud was scared, alone, and sick. He received some help from other deportees but was soon found dead, likely a consequence of his diabetes but no one knows for sure. The Chaldean Community Foundation is covering the cost of returning his body to the United States for a proper burial next to his mother.

How can you know that happened and not be wrecked?

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Patterson and Young Together Again…Forever?

It’s a classic editorial cartooning trope — drawing a recently deceased famous person at heaven’s gate. It’s been overdone and often mishandled. For instance, when Steve Jobs died a few years ago there were all sorts of cartoons of him at heaven’s gate making witty remarks to St. Peter about having an app for getting in. The thing is, Jobs was a Buddhist, which involves neither St. Peter nor heaven. And for those who knew Jobs personally, heaven was not his likely destination.

So my unique angle on this: L Brooks Patterson is not quite to heaven’s gate but in purgatory. For non-Catholics out there, purgatory is the concept that after death a soul not pure enough to enter heaven needs to be cleansed first. And this place or state of being is where that happens. Going further into description here only invites a theological debate I have no intentions of participating in. Suffice to say, the purpose of purgatory (if it in fact exists) is atonement.

This all seems like a plausible eventuality for Patterson. His obit was a laundry list of good and bad. The additional Twilight-Zone twist is him having to be there with his arch-nemesis in life, Coleman Young. Like Brooks, supporters and detractors have very specific feelings about Young. But I think it’s fair to say that their battles of Oakland County vs. Detroit may have served their specific interests well, but did more harm than good to the region as a whole.

Still, I’m not trying to be too judgmental here. Because another good Twilight-Zone twist would be for my soul to end up in purgatory with all the other cartoonists who relied too heavily on heaven’s gate cartoons. (Or maybe just straight to hell.)

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It’s Not a Lie If You Believe It

It's Not a Lie If You Believe It

I hesitated to draw this one because not everybody may know the George Costanza character from the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld. But the odds against that are pretty good — Seinfeld was one of the last TV shows that everybody watched, it has been in constant reruns since, and of course its catch-phrases live on forever in memes (“No soup for you!”).

All you really need to know is that the Jerry Seinfeld character comes to his friend George — who has “the gift” of being able to lie without conscience — to find out how to beat a polygraph test. At first George demurs, “I can’t help you. It’s like saying to Pavaratti, ‘Teach me to sing like you.'” But as Jerry gets up to leave, George offers him the advice I drew in the cartoon.

I take no pleasure in equating the President of the United States with a congenital liar. There is no fun here at all. With George, his lies eventually unravel and in spectacular fashion, and that is funny. The same unraveling will eventually happen with Trump, but there is a whole country, a whole world, that will pay the consequences. That’s not funny.

Yes, all politicians lie, just as all people do (except for the very young and the very pure). But the difference with Trump is twofold:

A matter of scale: By April this year the Fact Checker at the Washington Post had tallied 10,000 false or misleading claims by Trump during his presidency. And the man had a well-established pattern before being elected.

And a matter of audacity: After his rally in North Carolina where his supporters chanted, “Send her back!” there were some negative reviews, what with the racism and all. So the next day Trump unabashedly claimed he was “not happy” with it and had tried to stop it by “starting speaking very quickly.” No. No he didn’t. He absolutely didn’t. He stood there for 13 seconds and basked. Millions saw it live. Many more saw the recording.

I can only imagine his excuse. “Should I have not done that? Was that wrong? Because if anybody had said anything to me when I first started…” Seinfeld fans know how that bit ended.

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