Saturday, February 18, 2017

12.7 - Outrage of the Week: Glenn McCoy's racist cartoon

Outrage of the Week: Glenn McCoy's racist cartoon

Now for another of our regular features, this is the Outrage of the Week.

There certainly have been more than the usual assortment of outrages over the past couple of weeks, so much so that in context the one I'm going to address may seem a small one - but I chose it not only because it is so viscerally offensive but even more because it is also very representational of what we face.

On February 10, a small group of maybe 20 protesters was so intimidating to newly-crowned Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that she was deterred from entering a public school - you know, one of those of the type she wants to close and replace with taxpayer-funded corporate profit centers - a public school where she was going to make an appearance and she had to sneak into the building through a side door.

A right-wing editorial cartoonist by the name of Glenn McCoy was so struck by the manifest injustice of DeVos being inconvenienced that he produced the top cartoon on the right in response.

If you don't get what is so incredibly offensive about this, look at the second picture.

That picture is one of the best-known paintings of the 1960s. It's called "The Problem We All Live With" and was done in 1964 by Norman Rockwell. It's a depiction of the very real experience of Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African-American girl, on November 14, 1960, on her way to her first day at an all-white public school in New Orleans. Because of the threats and the violence directed against her because she was desegregating the school, she had to be escorted by four US marshals every day for the first year she went there.

Look at the two pictures together. Look at the comparison, look at the equation, McCoy is making. A billionaire white women, a member of a president's cabinet, facing 20 people with picket signs is just the same as a six-year-old black girl facing a screaming, threatening mob throwing things and shouting such obscenities that audio from the scene had to be masked in news coverage of the event.

The utter lack of understanding, the utter lack of awareness of the reality, still now, of racism, the utter gut-twisting, nauseating, cloistered stupidity of equating, again, a six-year-old black girl to a billionaire white woman - it's, I don't even know what to call it. Mind-boggling. Insane. Stupefying.

What makes this even worse, if that's possible, is that after being absolutely hammered on Twitter over this, McCoy doubled down on it, blathering that - you can almost hear the manufactured catch in his voice - "in this day and age, decades beyond the civil rights protests, it's sad that people are still being denied the right to speak freely or do their jobs or enter public buildings because others disagree with who they are or how they think."

In other words, he's saying it is the same. White billionaire cabinet member Betsy Devos is exactly analogous to black, six-year-old Ruby Bridges.

And notice the telling phrase "decades beyond the civil rights protests." Because, apparently, there are no more civil rights protests. "Civil rights? We dealt with that decades ago. Not a problem any more - except for discrimination against whites, of course, that's important." And yes, according to studies, they really do think that.

That's how the right-wing thinks. Punching down is no different from punching up. Protecting the perks of the powerful is as important as protecting the lives of the vulnerable. Inconveniencing the strong is every bit as bad as oppressing and exploiting the weak. And whites, not blacks, are now the real victims of discrimination because the right wing - which is overwhelmingly white - is always, always, always, "the real victim." That's how they think.

That is what we face. That is still, these decades later, "The Problem We All Live With." And it is still an outrage.

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