1/09/21 & 01/10/21: Political Cartoons

by Kevin Siers (01/09) and KOTERBA (01/10)

With so much going on it is hard to know what to write about next. Having taken a couple days off to do some yard work, write some political letters and do some fused and stained glass work, the pile of pieces I’ve saved to comment on has gotten pretty high. This time I decided to write one piece on a couple political cartoons I saw in the Gazette.

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

That’s an old saying that is pretty much understood to mean it takes a lot more words to express the same thing that you can do with one single picture. The only problem with that saying is the following. You can give a lot of detail and context in a thousands words. You can even do it in less. That’s why newspapers limit submitted columns and LTEs to far fewer than a thousand words. In the Gazette it is five hundred words, though occasionally that limit is waived. A well written column or article leaves the reader with few questions other than “Do I agree with the facts and conclusions?” If the facts are well documented it takes away part of the question. If the conclusion is well grounded in facts it may address the second part too. That isn’t always the case with a “picture” (or cartoon).

Kevin’s cartoon (01/09/21 issue) depicts a rattle snake coiled around the US Capitol Building. It’s mouth is open, tongue stretched out and fangs ready for action. Its rattlers are ready to sound their warning. The snake appears to be very similar to the one used by colonists prior and during the American Revolution and again by the “Tea Party” in its heyday. I still see them flying on poles or on cars and trucks when I drive around town.

So what is the snake doing? Has it wrapped itself around the US Capitol in an attempt to crush it and the nation? Or is it attempting to defend the Capitol and the nation, and if so from whom?

I’ve read and heard that rattlesnakes are not an offensive animal unless they are in search of food. When confronted by threats such as people they typically shy away. However when they feel they can’t retreat they coil up, shake their rattles in warning and strike out when they feel it is their last resort.

Kevin did label the snake as “Trump’s Mob” so I’m guessing that this was not supposed to be a positive portrayal of their actions. But looking at the picture you can come away believing that the snake is feeling the Nation is threatened and is coiled around the US Capitol Building attempting to protect it from the perceived threat. While that might not apply to those who rushed the Capitol, broke its windows and rushed inside, it would apply to tens of thousands of those who attended the DC rally against an election they felt was “stolen”. They went to DC to express their concerns that our country and its founding principals are being threatened by a group of leftist radicals. So in this cartoon’s case, a few more words would have better relayed the artist’s message.

KOTERBA’s cartoon shows an eagle (labeled Democracy) on the ground in distress. It also shows boots and shoes on the bottom of legs which appear to be rushing towards the Capitol Building. We don’t see any more of the “people” than their legs so don’t know who they might be. Are the politicians, are they law enforcement? Or are they citizens coming to the Capitol Building’s defense? Or are they an angry mob? If they are angry, why are they and is their anger justified? And finally, was the eagle in distress before to the running legs came or are they what is causing the crisis for “Democracy”. Again, a few more words might give us a better understanding of the artists intent.

I suspect that there very appearance in a Gannett newspaper would indicate the intent of the artists was to portray President Trump’s supporters in a very negative light. That certainly could be a valid interpretation of the cartoons. But our Nation is very divided. There are two large segments of the citizenry. One see Donald Trump and his supporters as a major threat to our nation. They applauded and approved of the steps taken to keep him from being elected (both in 2016 and 2020) and to have him removed from office after his 2016 victory. Yet another large segment of our citizenry sees the attempts to spy on the Trump Campaign in 2016, to falsely accuse him of being an asset of and colluding with Russians and both impeachments as the greatest threat our Nation and Democracy have experienced in their life time.

I can’t help but think that any fair minded individual, when presented with the facts we’ve already seen, would tend to side with those who see the actions of the Democrats and DC Bureaucrats as a threat to our nation. They might even come to the conclusion that it is the best example we’ve experienced as a country of individuals trampling on our Democracy.

So maybe it is best that the artists didn’t add a few more words to make their intentions perfectly clear. It gives Trump supporters a ray of hope that their interpretation was what the artists intended.

I doubt it was.

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