Friday, September 12

And while we're on a controversy riff...

There was quite a bit of it over at the big blog over the use of this image, presented without comment, at last night's open thread.

Some took umbrage, some defended it.

My two cents, and it isn't my image or my blog, is this:

If it were a drawing, no one would have said a goddamn thing. And that leads to a fifty-minute art history discourse on genre and medium which you will have to read elsewhere 'cause I sure ain't gonna write it.

That image, for all the photoshop work that went into it, is a political cartoon. Political cartoons are by definition, controversial propaganda.

There are some in the nation, and particularly in the liberal blogosphere, sad to say, for whom their own personal emotional reaction to any event, personal or not, must be displayed, celebrated, and fetishized in order to prove some point about sensitivity, liberalism, and rightness. I have very little time for that.

Nevertheless, some of the reaction to this was genuinely emotional, and appeared to come from people for whom 9/11 was more than a national tragedy. I expect those for whom 9/11 is a day of personal tragedy, spent it in quiet reflection, tears, and prayer. I would never be so callous as to suggest you surf or comment on the blogs or the television or the political cartoons on that awful anniversary. If your experience on 9/11/01 was in anyway a personal loss or a personal experience, regardless of whether you were there or lost someone (because "personal loss" is completely subjective), I am so sorry for that. There is also nothing any political blogger can say or do to assuage your feelings seven years later, or to offend your sense of loss.


  1. Anonymous9:42 AM

    You've hit the nail on the head and that's why freedom of speech is difficult sometimes.

    There are strong emotions for victims and equally strong emotions from commentators. It's impossible to balance things so that everyone is treated fairly and in the end someone gets screwed.

    I wish there was a way to cover both cases, but it is simply impossible. In fact, I think this is sometimes what gets the media into a pickle. Whichever side that doesn't get their issue treated like they want it is going to be pissed off.

  2. I recoiled when I saw the image. I also understood where Sir Drifty was coming from. Two very different and seemingly conflicted reactions.

    Our current method of confronting the discord is to find strident voices to represent two extreme views and let them scream it out.
    Then cut to commercial.

    Anger at Driftglass is grossly misplaced in this case. The image is a mirror. Only reflecting what's been put in front of it.

  3. nothing i can add to your commentary- it was spot on. unfortunately, for this country, this cartoon is spot on.

  4. Images are supposed to provoke- especially in challenging times.

    The opposite of being shocked and even offended at large is that living under totalitarian regime.

    Which we practically do...

  5. the image actually captures the symbolic complexity of the event itself...... and attack by forces opposed to Liberal America, and erosion of our Liberties by anti-Liberal forces of governance in response.

    ironic.... paradoxical

  6. It's interesting to see how the Driftglass approach to photoshopping is complementing his writing chops, Most formidable - It's a medium as rife with promise as blogs in my opinion, to reference BG's earlier repost.

    And speaking as someone who has courted the occasional mild photographic controversy, the buffoons who seek a trembling leaf from which to point their grubby fingers as the oddly colored sky in their little world falls can either choose not to look (most unlikely, given their predelictions) or they can - oh, what do the youth say these days, ah yes - SUCK IT.


  7. I created a very similar image for a 9/11 post in 2007. I have a tiny blog, so it didn't generate much conversation, but I wanted to make the statement.


  8. Anonymous8:28 PM

    I agree with ghost dansing. I also thought it was blisteringly truthful. I forwarded Drifty's entire post to everyone I know.

  9. Anonymous3:40 AM

    over half the 9/11 victims families want a new INDEPENDENT investigation of 9/11, and many also believe that the event was allowed or engineered by the government to scare them into the dismantling of American laws and values which the image refers to.

    so i don't see how pointing out the agenda of using 9/11 to bring about all of these changes (for the worse) that we have seen shows any disrespect or insensitivity to the friends and families of 9/11 victims. on the contrary, it seems to honor them, and the views a majority of them have, and point to a need to bring the real perpetrators to justice, one day.

  10. Part of me felt it was tasteless - part of me felt it was well done. Regardless, I support driftglass' right to make it and post it. It's intended to be provocative, and I found it to be for me, but any art or political statement can say more than one thing at once, and stir more than one reaction over time. I felt a twinge, then thought about it. In my case, it's not that I question at all that 9/11 has been flogged as a reason for shredding the Constitution. It's 9/11 itself.

    And another reason is that, since I do a series on right-wing cartoons, I see cartoons of planes smashing into buildings, the Statue of Liberty, etc. all the friggin' time. It's one of the favorite motifs of right-wing cartoonists. If you want a quick sample, the best overview is probably my Hall of Infamy post from last year, but trust me, there have been plenty more since.

    Last point – and this is pretty damn relevant – driftglass' actual post accompanying the pic is fantastic. 9/11 was long ago politicized and exploited, and if it's spoken about in a political context, I'd at least like it to be accurate. Right-wing cartoonists want to provoke an emotional reaction and drive out thought and dissent; for them, 9/11 is a bludgeon, a trump card to establish moral superiority, a way to drive out thought and squash dissent to a truly radical, dangerous agenda (read Barton Gellman's Angler excerpts in the WaPo if you haven't; it's chilling, and that just covers ignoring the 4th Amendment, not the Bushies' war of choice in Iraq). Driftglass' piece spurred an initial emotion reaction for me, but then also invited rather than drove out thought. That's a crucial distinction that's been pretty central to American politics for at least the past 50 years.

    (I might blog on this one later, but thanks.)


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