An Indy op-ed by cartoonist Tim Sanders criticizing a recent Daily Mail cartoon published in the aftermath of the ISIS Paris attacks, which depicts fleeing Muslim refugees as rats, correctly argues that the imagery is “revolting” and designed to provoke anti-immigrant and racist sentiment.
But, he made one additional point:
I think the problem here is that of choosing one’s targets. The job of the satirist and cartoonists is indeed to offend and outrage, but who do we want to offend? For me, it is the powerful, the rich, those who make decisions that can ruin or end the lives of other ‘lesser’ beings. Attacking the poor and weak isn’t satire – it’s bullying.
Cartoonists have a duty to offend, but they also have responsibilities. One of those is not to attack the victims of those in power.
Indeed, this same argument was advanced last year by the Guardian’s Martin Rowson, who explained that his governing artistic philosophy is to “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the powerful”. “As a satirist”, he added, “I only attack people more powerful than I am”.
Of course, the problem with such a principle is that how such self-described progressives define “the powerful” is highly distorted in order to align with their political beliefs.
Indeed, the response by many British cartoonists to the Paris attacks suggests they don’t view ISIS jihadists – who slaughter and enslave thousands in support of their goal of a global Islamic caliphate – as either “powerful” or among those groups “who make decisions that can ruin or end the lives of other ‘lesser’ beings”.
How else to do we explain the glaring absence in the Guardian (the flagship of radical left opinion) of cartoons mocking the terrorists who savagely murdered 129 in Paris, and injured hundreds more?
The Guardian’s Martin Rowson depicted “a contorted” and “more dangerous world”, but only in the context of a moral muddle which decidedly did not mock or focus primarily on the terrorists.
The Guardian’s Steve Bell (in whose name?….at war with that?) avoids in any way caricaturing the terrorists.
Here’s Bell again, mocking the urge to “do something” in response to the terror attacks.
Chris Riddel at least seems to express outrage over the attacks, but, again, note the absence of any imagery of the perpetrators.
The Guardian also published a cartoon known as First Dog on The Moon, which all but ignores the terrorists, and focuses instead on racist anti-Muslim reactions to the attacks, while condemning the (presumably Western) governments which “fund and actively support terror”.
Here’s another cartoon by First Dog on the Moon in response to the terror attack which again focuses on Western racism against Muslims while ignoring the jihadists. (Note also the reference to the “Grand Mufti”, the cartoonist’s way of mocking Bibi Netanyahu’s claims regarding the pro-Nazi Palestinian Grand Mufti during the 30s and 40s).
The almost complete absence of caricatures which target either the terrorists who carried out the attack in Paris, ‘mastermind’ Abdelhamid Abaaoud or ISIS’s leadership, stands in stark contrast to these cartoonists’ ubiquitous mockery targeting US, European and Israeli leaders.
If these cartoonists would respond to the charge of double standards by reminding us that their job is only to ‘speak truth to power’, then perhaps they need to be reminded that ISIS – which controls huge swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and enslaves thousands – murdered unarmed Parisians, and their attack on ‘lesser beings’ included firing their high-powered weapons on a group of decidedly ‘powerless’ wheelchair-bound concert goers at Bataclan Hall.
If Rowson, Bell and company were truly interested in ‘comforting the afflicted and afflicting the powerful’, they’d use their considerable skills to humanize and evoke empathy for the French victims and mock, deride and arouse contempt for the heartless extremists who murdered for “for Allah’s sake“.