The Sorensen Monologues

Ghost Bluster

The backlash goes all the way to the top: even Donald Trump has weighed in with exactly the sentiments you would imagine. Like the director and cast members, I can’t believe we’re even still having this “conversation.”

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I hear it’s pretty good.



After Dallas shootings, united in sorrow

The actual Obama quote, which can be found deep in this article, was:

“The demented individual who carried out those attacks in Dallas, he’s no more representative of African Americans than the shooter in Charleston was representative of white Americans, or the shooter in Orlando, or San Bernardino, were representative of Muslim Americans. They don’t speak for us. That’s not who we are.”

It is truly remarkable, and frustrating, how many people do not understand this basic point. Black Lives Matter has never called for violence as a solution to violence. They are whistleblowers who would not exist if there were not a problem, and thanks to them, millions of Americans have been made aware of that problem. It is reprehensible to suggest, as some have, that they are responsible for the actions of a deranged man armed with a weapon he never should have been able to obtain in the first place.



Beware the Xeno virus!

I realize that technically this should be the Xenophobia virus, but had to shorten it to Xeno for the joke to work. After writing this strip, I googled “Xeno virus” and found that it is a song by the California death metal band Deeds of Flesh. So, apologies to them.



George Will’s Bowtie Rebellion

Conservative commentator George Will made news over the weekend with his announcement that he was leaving the Republican party over Donald Trump. The last straw, it seems, was Trump’s statement that a judge of Mexican descent could not be trusted to preside over the Trump University lawsuit impartially. You might get the sense that Will is deeply troubled by racism, until you start looking at stuff he’s written over the years.

Here’s further context for the quotes and paraphrased statements in the cartoon.

1. Willie Horton ad — From Will’s 1995 column, “22 Questions for Colin Powell”:

What exactly was objectionable about citing Horton and his rape victim as a consequence of that prisoner-release program?

(A common refrain on the right is that Al Gore introduced Horton during a 1988 debate with Dukakis, which is debunked here; Gore only brought up the furlough program.)

2. George Wallace — From 2007 Newsweek column on third-party candidates:

A candidate can succeed in giving an aggrieved minority a voice—e.g., George Wallace, speaking for people furious about the ’60s tumults.

An aggrieved minority? Oh-kay.

3. Hurricane Katrina — From September, 2005 column “A Poverty of Thought”:

America’s always fast-flowing river of race-obsessing has overflowed its banks, and last Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois’s freshman Democrat, applied to the expression of old banalities a fluency that would be beguiling were it without content. Unfortunately, it included the requisite lament about the president’s inadequate “empathy” and an amazing criticism of the government’s “historic indifference” and its “passive indifference” that “is as bad as active malice.”

That flooding metaphor sure was tactful three weeks after the devastation of New Orleans. Will proceeded to lecture the locals on out-of-wedlock births.

4. More on Will and voter ID here.



Sexual Assault Platinum Pass



Punditspew, Orlando shooting edition

One of my least favorite parts of being a political cartoonist is having to process these mind-boggling tragedies on a short deadline. It was absolutely clear from the beginning, however, that easy access to assault rifles did not help this situation.

The worst possible response to this attack is to demonize Muslims, as Trump is doing, which only fans the flames of hate and extremism. We know the shooter was virulently homophobic, a belief that may have preceded any affiliation with extremist groups. Whatever the findings in the coming days, it’s obvious that Trump deserves zero “congrats for being right.”



Radical Cleric vs. Trump

Given Trump’s penchant for threatening the press, encouraging violence among his followers, and directing hate towards minority groups, he sometimes seems like a mirror image of the very extremists he claims he’d protect us from. Actually, more than anyone, Trump reminds me of Turkey’s authoritarian president Erdogan, who has pursued a harsh crackdown against his critics in the media in recent years, while enjoying support from the nationalism-and-traditional-values crowd.

In case you were wondering, there was no new strip last week because I was in Memphis for the National Cartoonists Society convention.



Canned patriotism

Budweiser has been roundly mocked for this marketing campaign, thus demonstrating that it is possible to lay it on too thick. I keep having flashbacks to the jingoistic days of 2003, when cars were plastered with magnetic flags and “Support our troops” ribbons. (Where’d all that stuff go, anyway?)



McTeacher Night is new low in marketing to schoolkids

Mother Jones has further details: schools get around 15% of profits during the McTeacher’s Night event, which means that, for example, an Ohio school got $191. The proceeds amount to $1-2 per student (after their families spend considerably more than that on McDonald’s food — not the most efficient way to raise funds from this tightwad’s perspective).

Various groups including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have campaigns against the program. While purporting to be some kind of altruistic community event, McTeacher Night amounts to cheap advertising: it’s really about inculcating brand loyalty and trust, turning teachers — TEACHERS! — into “brand ambassadors.” At the very moment that we need to change our kids’ eating habits more than ever, we’re normalizing industrialized fast food, through our nation’s educators, as something actual human beings should be eating.

My parents were both teachers, and I cannot imagine either of them having to do this. In fact, I don’t recall encountering any such advertising at all when I was a public school student. I’d probably be shocked if I went into a classroom now.



Baby-on-gun violence

Relevant and depressing article about the four toddlers here.

As guns gradually infiltrate every nook and cranny in America, it’s statistically inevitable that some guns will become victims of accidental gunfire. Heck, some have probably already been shot. We need to stop this problem now, before any more innocent weapons get hurt!



Playing the Woman Card

My husband actually spotted a bumper sticker saying “Trump that bitch” the other day.  Nice to see people keepin’ it classy.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Trump accused Hillary of playing the “woman card.” (He also suggested she lacked stamina, an odd — if phallically-loaded — criticism to level at someone who’s been campaigning tirelessly for eleven months.) Look, this is not that hard to understand: a woman running for president, who advocates for women as part of her platform, is not playing a “card” that gives her some kind of unfair advantage over her oh-so-meritocratic male opponents. See Jill Filipovic’s excellent NYT op-ed piece on how Donna Edwards was accused of playing the “race card” in her Senate campaign simply for talking about her life story, and how women and minority candidates are accused of playing a ”card” simply by virtue of who they are.




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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-syndicated political cartoonist whose work has appeared in The Progressive, The Nation, Daily Kos, Austin Chronicle, NPR, Ms., Politico, and many other publications. The recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, she tweets at @JenSorensen.

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