Friday, January 24, 2014
The Ugly Lie of Glenn Foden's 'It's Not My Fault That Gravity is Racist' Editorial Cartoon
I am curious as to your reactions and thoughts about this editorial cartoon by Glenn Foden.
Its narrative is obvious: the country's first president who happens to be black uses false claims of racism to deflect responsibility for his failures. Such claims are part of a broader "colorblind" white racist narrative that people of color--blacks in particular--are a group of ingrate lying complainers who use false charges of racism, accusations which are de facto slurs against good white people, to somehow get over in America.
Foden is not indicting Obama; he is indicting black and brown Americans as somehow being dishonest liars, and whose experiences are vetoed by the ability of white folks, working through white privilege, to publicly invalidate what they have experienced and know.
In the Age of Obama, "colorblind" white racism has succeeded in advancing one of the most noxious and bizarre claims in recent memory: a new public opinion survey highlights how 44 percent of respondents actually believe that "racism" against white people is as significant a social problem as racial discrimination against people of color.
Such a data point speaks to a type of white backlash and rage that is being actively deployed to advance the plutocrats' and the 1 percent's agenda of using racial anxiety and hatred to further legitimate the evisceration of the public commons and the social safety net. Glenn Foden's cartoon is a visual embodiment of a process through which white elites have been able to manipulate the white working class and poor into supporting policies that actually hurt them economically.
However, I am trying to reconcile why I feel unsettled by the semiotics of such an obvious cartoon.
Could it be that I am offended intellectually, and my sense of reason is disturbed, by how any thinking person could believe that Barack Obama, who rarely if ever talks about race (except to scold black people), is somehow able to deploy his "blackness" as political capital in an effective manner on a national level?
Maybe this editorial cartoon bothers me because I am instinctively repelled by intellectual dishonesty, especially as it serves white supremacy.
President Obama has been subjected to a range of racially motivated assaults by the White Right. They include the grotesqueness that was/is Birtherism, to a resurgent Confederate States of America in the form of the Republican Party (and their habit of embracing the American Swastika i.e. the Confederate flag), and a Right-wing media machine that has deployed some of the most base and ugly stereotypes about black people in order to smear Barack Obama and the First Family.
Glenn Foden's editorial cartoon suggests that all of those events either have not happened and/or that the reasonable assumption that anti-black animus by many in the white polity--read: the Republican Party, a good number of Independents, and Red State America--has no impact on Obama's popularity or political legitimacy.
Racism is not an opinion. It is an empirical fact. Given the disconnect by the White Right from empirical reality across a range of policy matters, the white supremacist ethos of Glenn Foden's cartoon is part of a larger pattern of anti-intellectualism by movement conservatives.
Politics involves the manipulation of feelings, emotions, and symbols to advance some end goal where power and resources are protected, conserved, or redistributed within society.
Foden's cartoon is a great example of how white racism and white racial resentment can be manipulated and marshaled by one (deceptively simple) image. If "art" is supposed to move the spirit I commend his technique and ability; I remain disgusted by the lie he advances.