July 23, 2004

Follow-up on P21 vs. Ted Rall

I've appeared on a number of radio talk-shows discussing the Project 21 press release from earlier this week. The release condemns an early July political cartoon by Ted Rall, a cartoonist syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate.

A letter went out from Project 21, with my signature on it on Monday of this week, asking that they reconsider Rall's standing with them, in light of his cartoon, which depicted National Security Director Condoleezza Rice being referred to as a "house n-----."

Also on Monday, letters were sent to the NAACP, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the PUSH/Rainbow Coalition, asking that they take a look at the case, especially in light of their participation in going after commentator Rush Limbaugh last fall, after comments that disparaged Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. After all, they have stated that they would be interested in righting wrongs where they exist in terms of black individuals.

Richard Prince, with the Maynard Insitute for Journalism Education, went to Universal Press directly and asked for some sort of comment on our press release, and presumably our letter (to which we have yet to receive a reply).

Kathie Kerr, a spokeswoman for Universal Press Syndicate, said Rall was carried by about 50 newspapers, and is also picked up on Web sites. She said she had received no complaints about the strip.

In response to a query from Journal-isms, Lee Salem, editor and vice president, Universal Press Syndicate, issued this statement:

"When we distribute opinionists -- writers or cartoonists -- to op/ed pages, it is with the knowledge that editors of those pages edit by selection. Most newspapers print only a few releases of any one cartoonist’s or writer’s work because of space constraints, subject matter, viewpoint expressed, or other editorial considerations. We know that every client will not like every cartoon or column we distribute, but we do not prejudge the editorial diversity for subscribers that range from strongly conservative to strongly liberal. We assume the editors who buy the features we distribute know what works in their market and what [doesn't].

"The criticism of Ted Rall's depiction of Ms. Rice obscures the fact that it is part of a larger, hyperbolic context. In the cartoon, Rall is clearly imagining unlikely scenarios that might befall a number of key people in President Bush's administration. That he exaggerates both the language and the events is a time-honored tool of satirists. Anyone who takes it literally is missing the point."

On the contrary, Mr. Salem; I didn't miss a damned thing.

Ted Rall says that Dr. Rice is a second class citizen because she is a black woman who dares to be conservative. And by your passive and limp-wristed acceptance of Rall's cartoon, you have planted your seal of approval on it.

This week, I've been told things from "get a thicker skin," to "she deserves it because she is a 'house n-----'," to "you don't have the right to ask anyone to support this because you are conservative," and "black conservatives are second class citizens; their opinions don't count."

On WAOK radio in Atlanta this afternoon, I was verbally excoriated for three hours for having the unmitigated gall and audacity to dare to even suggest that this was an "issue worth discussing." One caller suggested that I needed my head examined, while another said that because I was "stupid enough" to support conservatives and Republicans that I couldn't "survive in the 'real' world" as opposed to the "fantasy world" that he insisted I live in.

On WVON radio in Chicago this morning, similar feelings were expressed, with one caller going as far as to say that Rall must have meant it as a "state of mind" and that as a result it was OK.

Now to their credit, some callers from both stations understood and agreed with me; even going against their political ideologies. I insisted that this was a case that transcended politics, and that it was a matter of simple "right" and "wrong." That no one, politically correct or otherwise, deserved to be talked about in such vile terms. And that if a more "politically correct" individual were spoken of in such terms, that the subsequent uproar in the mainstream media and otherwise would certainly dwarf my efforts here; and that Rall's severed head stuck on a pike in the middle of Times Square would be the only thing to satisfy the Salmon Rushdie-esque fervor of those who would call for his head.

Political correctness has run amok, and this is the part of the result: that there are two "classes" of blacks in America -- those who follow the public edicts of the Jackson-Sharpton cabal with lemming-like zeal, and enjoy the "spoils" of their so-called bounty, no matter whether rightly or wrongly; and the conservative blacks who march to the beat of a different drummer, and are publicly excoriated and privately shunned because of it.

As I emphasized on radio shows across the nation all week long when being interviewed in relation to this issue, the left can walk boldly this week, because it is not one of their own who was wronged. But next week is a different time, and that next time, one of theirs may be the one who is in need. Do I dare to help one who refuses to help me?

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice? Uh....no. No thank you.

Posted by mhking at July 23, 2004 12:09 AM

In the words of your fellow conservative commentator Bill O'Lielly "SHUT UP"

Posted by: elgin borskey at July 23, 2004 12:47 AM

Thank you Elgin. We value you contribution, and so do our flowerbeds.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 23, 2004 01:15 AM

Very ignorant of you, Elgin. How's about you go find a freeway to play on?

Posted by: mhking at July 23, 2004 08:25 AM

I thought it was just an internet cartoon, that's why I didn't understand your point of offense. No, I understood the point, I just didn't get why you seemed to be elevating an internet cartoon.

You make a good point.

Posted by: DarkStar at July 23, 2004 09:15 AM

If it were simply an internet cartoon, I'd be pissed, but I don't think I'd push it the way I have. I probably would have stopped with a blog or a column.

But this crosses the line entirely. And what's sad is that so many people take the attitude of Elgin, up above, and in most cases have same lack of eloquence. But if this were say Cynthia McKinney on the hook, he'd be at the front of the line with the noose in his hand.

One caller yesterday asked me if I'd be as upset if the term "Benedict Arnold" had been used, and I honestly told him "no." The problem is not the commentary itself -- I disagree with it, but I understand it, and support even a racist idiot like Rall's right to say what he wants, provided he doesn't cross the line.

To use that word, on the other hand, crossed the line. Period.

Posted by: mhking at July 23, 2004 10:12 AM

It is bizarre, Michael.

I have a feeling that if I were to sketch a toon showing Bond rounding up the sheeple to head out for the welfare lines, even with no words - I'd have to fear for my life. (Not that I'd consider doing that. I don't think two wrongs make a right, and my doodles really suck.)

Posted by: Deb at July 23, 2004 11:34 AM

I don't know what's worse after hearing all the responses you received Michael, the cartoon or peoples reaction to your response.

Calling Rice that name has nothing to do with politics or your personal political stripe, it is extremely inappropriate and racist. Period.

Had Day-by-Day or Cox and Forkum printed anything even remotely like this, they would be immediately pounced on by every liberal blog and media source imaginable, much the way Rush Limbaugh was pounced on. I have no problem with people calling out Rush for making what was a stupid comment. But Ralls comment was beyond stupid, it was repugnant. But since he's a liberal he can make these comments? What crap.

Sorry to hear about your radio experience Michael. It's just pathetic.

Posted by: Tman at July 23, 2004 01:21 PM

I placed a response to this mess on my website.

Posted by: Expertise at July 23, 2004 05:09 PM

Don't even think of comparing calling Dr. Rice a nigger to Rush Limbaugh's very likely accurate statement that Donovan McNabb, or any other black athlete, enjoys a higher threshold of protection from criticism from the usually white press than does a comparable white athlete. And for the exact same reasons that this issue comes up now--political correctness! Just think about it. Nobody wants to face the danger of being labeled a racist, so they back off. It's human nature.

Posted by: Downtown Mike at November 17, 2004 05:06 PM

Ted Rall is hilarious,passionate and courageous.
Any open minded individual can see the point he's making.Blacks in the Bush cartel are tokens-to be utilized in the service of pretending to care about black issues,when nothing could be further from the truth.No? well try voting in Florida come next election as a black democrat then.Whats even funnier BTW,is witnessing this sudden concern among conservatives about so called "racism".Quick! Someone call the NAACP!!

Posted by: bluestraveller at December 10, 2004 07:55 PM


In what parallel universe?

Posted by: Chris Oakley at May 11, 2005 12:13 PM
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