Saturday, May 29, 2021
Last Saturday's entry here was long on words and short on cartoons, so I'm going to try to strike a better balance today.
One of the cartoonists I had hoped would have drawn a good cartoon about the Tulsa Pogrom was the New York Evening World's John Cassel. He had drawn a couple war-time cartoons praising African-American soldiers, so I went looking through the World's June, 1921 archives to find what he had to say about Tulsa.
I found instead that he was preoccupied with the strike against newspapers in New York and elsewhere by the International Photoengravers' Union.
|"Look Before You Strike" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, June 1, 1921|
I can't say for sure that this cartoon specifically addressed the photoengravers union, because theirs was not the only strike underway at the time, by a long shot. Employers, backed by the Harding administration and a Republican Congress, were pressing their workers to give back gains won under the more sympathetic Wilson administration during the Great War.
In any event, the newspaper photoengravers paid no heed to Cassel's cartoon, and the strike was on.
|"Typographical Hooch" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, June 2, 1921|
|"The President Waltzes..." by John Cassel in New York Evening World, June 3, 1921|
He followed up a day later by adding some clip art.
|"Can You Imagine This Cartoon?" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 3, 1921|
The strike affected some 17 New York newspapers, but the only other Big Apple cartoonist I found who tried John Cassel's approach to dealing with it was this one cartoon by Nelson Harding across the East River at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Harding missed a few days on the editorial page that week, but his little one-column cartoons continued to appear daily on the front page.
|"Can You Beat It" by Maurice Ketten in New York Evening World, June 3, 1921|
The gag cartoons seem to have been unaffected by the strike, as evidenced by Cassel's fellow cartoonist at the Evening World, Maurice Ketten. Elsewhere, the New York Evening Post hadn't run any editorial cartoons since Haydon Jones's departure in April, but Alfred "Zere" Ablitzere's light-hearted cartoons continued daily on another page. Nor was there any interruption in John "Ding" Darling sending his editorial cartoons in from Iowa to the New York Tribune.
Likewise, the Evening World's sports cartoonists kept showing up in print during the strike.
|"The Sportoscope" by Ken Kling in New York Evening World, June 3, 1921|
Was it a matter of pen and ink over grease pencil? A question of willingness to cross a picket line?
I don't think so. The strike also resulted in newspapers being unable to run the comic strips, which were such a popular selling point in those days. At the Evening World, the editors strove to keep their comic strip fans engaged by making a readership contest out of it.
|Blank version of "Joe's Car" by Vic Forsythe, in New York Evening World, June 2, 1921|
|Blank version of "Little Mary Mixup" by R.L. Brinkerhoff, in New York Evening World, June 3, 1921|
The strike also interrupted the work of Sidney Joseph Greene, who had come to Pulitzer's Evening World from the Evening Telegram a year or so earlier. Instead of drawing editorial cartoons, Greene was drawing a filler feature on the comics page. No comics page, no Greene.
Meanwhile, John Cassel kept plugging away at his typographic cartoons on the Evening World editorial page.
|"Two-Handed Diplomacy" by John Cassel in New York Evening Post, June 4, 1921|
|"A Rose from Last Year's Garden" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, June 6, 1921|
|"Joe's Car" by Vic Forsythe, and H. Turner|
|"Little Mary Mixup" by R.L. Brinkerhoff, and William Delaney|
|"The Big Little Family" by Bud Counihan, and Leslie Bradsaw|
Thursday, May 27, 2021
New York's Pride organizing committee, Heritage of Pride, has told that city's Gay Officers Action League that they are not welcome to participate in this year's events, or to come within a city block of the event perimeter.
NYC Pride seeks to create safer spaces for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities at a time when violence against marginalized groups, specifically BIPOC and trans communities, has continued to escalate. The sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason. NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community. The steps being taken by the organization challenge law enforcement to acknowledge their harm and to correct course moving forward, in hopes of making an impactful change.
Effective immediately, NYC Pride will ban corrections and law enforcement exhibitors at NYC Pride events until 2025. At that time their participation will be reviewed by the Community Relations and Diversity, Accessibility, and Inclusion committees, as well as the Executive Board. In the meantime, NYC Pride will transition to providing increased community-based security and first responders, while simultaneously taking steps to reduce NYPD presence at events.
Heritage of Pride members soon reversed that decision, only to have the reversal re-reversed by HoP's executive board.
Jonathan Capehart in Washington Post quotes Richie Jackson, activist and author of Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son, who agrees with Capehart that HoP made a bad call:
“For one thing I hate seeing us use a tactic so often used against us. Our community has no litmus test for entry and we shouldn’t start now. All are welcome — proud, shameful, closeted — all,” Jackson told me via text message. “But now we are also taking away something from LGBTQ kids. They won’t be able to see the cops marching, to see that occupation as a place for them. We’re robbing them of possibility.”
(Capehart is a Person of Color; Jackson is not.)
New York Times also called it “a poke in the eye at law enforcement more than a meaningful action to address police violence or foster a dialogue about law enforcement reform.”
It's difficult to know whom to side with in this debate. As Capehart acknowledges, "The decision came in response to understandable, long-brewing anger at the NYPD among many LGBTQ people — including growing outrage over the heavy police presence at the pride parade and concern about people of color bearing the brunt of police action. Last June in Lower Manhattan, for instance, officers pepper-sprayed participants in the Queer Liberation March for Black lives and against police brutality."
Yet it also puts spokespersons for the LGBTQ+ community in the position of having to advocate for tolerance and inclusion from society at large while imposing a policy of intolerance and exclusion within our own. Although some, such as J. Brian Lowder at Slate, pooh-pooh cops' complaints, saying that they "can still participate as an individual, just without [their] uniform." That comes off sounding uncomfortably like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to me.
This issue is not unique to New York by any means, nor is it new. Twin Cities Pride banned police uniforms three years ago, as did Washington D.C. Capital Pride Alliance. Pride committees in some larger Canadian cities banned uniformed police in 2017.
I know people on both sides of the cop/PoC divide, and I think police departments ought to be commended when they reach out both to the LGBTQ+ community and to People of Color communities.
Side note: a neighbor was recently appointed as her police department's official LGBTQ+ liaison. Comments in the department's Facebook announcement were riddled with such snark as this: "Spending taxpayer dollars on a pointless exercise in virtue signaling to the wokesters is embarrassing." The role adds a title to her workload, but no more "taxpayer dollars" than she had been earning in her role as a police lieutenant the week beforehand. But it just goes to show that there are plenty of Persons of No Color Or Sexual Persuasion who object to law enforcement outreach of any kind.
That same police department is actively engaging with the PoC community in weekly meetings right where I work, with the active involvement of the current Acting Police Chief. They do a lot of personal self-defense training, but they also sit down to address specific incidents and concerns. (Faithful readers will recall that I work in a neighborhood directly affected by rioting last summer.)
As a Person of No Color myself, I probably don't get to decide when specific police departments have done enough to satisfy PoCs. Nor can I expect that change will take place quickly, without resistance, or uniformly around the country.
So let's just hope that relations have improved by 2025.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Monday, May 24, 2021
In other news, the Center for Disease Control has lifted the mask mandate for cartoon characters who are fully vaccinated. This will make it much easier for readers to figure out which character is talking when the caption is set below the drawing.
Saturday, May 22, 2021
|The Black Dispactch, Oklahoma City, OK, June 10, 1921|
According to contemporary reports, a 19-year-old Black man named Dick Rowland accidentally stepped on the foot of a White woman, Sarah Page, in the Tulsa department store elevator where she worked. She slapped him across the face, and he grabbed her arm. Later reports suggested that Rowland tripped as he entered the elevator and grabbed Page by the arm to stop from falling. Either way, she screamed for the police, who arrested Rowland and charged him with assault and battery.
The next afternoon's Tulsa Tribune reported the story under the headline "Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in an Elevator," casting Rowland in the worst possible light:
"A negro delivery boy who gave his name to police as "Diamond Dick" but who has been identified as Dick Rowland, was arrested on South Greenwood avenue this morning by officers Carmichael and Pack, attempting to assault the 17-year-old white elevator girl in the Drexel Building early yesterday. ...
"The girl said she noticed the negro a few minutes before the attempted assault looking up and down the hallway on the third floor of the Drexel Building as if to see if there was anyone in sight but thought nothing of it at the time.
"A few minutes later he entered the elevator she claimed, and attacked her, scratching her hands and face and tearing her clothes. Her screams brought a clerk from Renberg's store to her assistance, and the negro fled. He was captured and identified this morning by both the girl and the clerk, police say.
"Rowland denied that he tried to harm the girl, but he admitted he put his hand on her arm in the elevator when she was alone.
"Tenants of the Drexel Building said the girl is an orphan who works as an elevator operator to pay her way through business college."
That account (and an inflammatory Tribune editorial, all copies of which disappeared as soon as an official investigation was launched) is credited with inflaming passions in Tulsa; within days, Victor F. Barnett, managing editor of the Tribune, stated that his paper had since learned that the original story, that the girl's face was scratched and her clothing torn, was untrue.
Responding to rumors that Rowland would be lynched and reports
that a White mob had massed at the jail, 75 Black men, some armed,
arrived at the jail to protect him. Sheriff Willard McCullough assured them that
Rowland was safe, so they began to leave. But then some White man grabbed at a Black man's gun, a shot was fired, and all hell broke loose.
|"Tulsa Unmasked" by Henry Brown, orig. pub. unknown, by June 18, 1921|
I have been searching for several months to find editorial cartoons to illustrate today's post; to my great disappointment, I have only found two*. The first is from a presumably Black artist in New York, who may or may not have drawn under a pseudonym; I found it on the front page of the Chicago Whip, an African-American weekly.
|"Keeping Right Up with the Procession" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, June 6, 1921|
The only other cartoon I've managed to find is this unfortunate example by "Ding" Darling of positing false equivalence between Whites' and Blacks' culpability for the violence. That the black figure looks so much like a gorilla only compounds the offensiveness of the cartoon.
But it's the only cartoon by a White cartoonist I could find anywhere.
It is not as if the Tulsa riots were not front page news nationwide.
Speaking to the graduating class of Lincoln University Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania on June 6, President Harding lamented the violence, but promised to do nothing about it. "Much is said about the problem of the races. There is nothing that the government can do which is akin to educational work in value. One of the great difficulties of popular government is that citizenship expects government to do what it ought to do for itself. No government can wave a magic wand. The colored race, to come into its own, must do the great work itself. The government can only offer the opportunity."
Opining that White and Black citizens live together peacefully, the Chicago Tribune blamed "corrupt politics": "Corrupt politics is directly responsible for race riots. Let us face that fact and not lose ourselves in secondary considerations. Race riots are not problems of race; they are problems of government. There will be no race riots where politics has not corrupted government" (June 6). The editorial failed to explain how the Trib's charges of corruption were relevant to Tulsa, and probably didn't inspire any daredevil to try integrating any White Chicago neighborhoods to test the "living together peacefully" claim.
The New York Age (June 13) noted an editorial in Birmingham News laying blame for the riot "on the Negroes themselves. This editorial article relates how 'a band of belligerent Negroes' moved down on the jail with the purpose of liberating one of their number charged with an atrocious crime, and gives this as the cause of the uprising of the whites to safeguard the processes of law. It then comments on the actions of the Negroes in the following language: 'It is this attitude, the jungle instinct of the African, which arouses the keen resentment of the whites.'"
The Vicksburg Herald of Mississippi reported (June 8): "It was believed by authorities that the trouble was largely caused by negroes who have been preaching the gospel of so-called 'equality.' Some of these characters are described as fanatics. The white population tonight appeared sympathetic toward the negro refugees and the authorities were guarding against another outbreak of the negroes."
Then there was Independent and Harper's Weekly (June 18), which likened the Tulsa riot to Turkey's Armenian genocide: "World public opinion does not draw the distinctions we would like. Exactly as we hold Turks as a whole responsible, as Americans are held responsible, as a whole, when negro massacre succeeds negro massacre, as for two years past. ... No possible question exists that in the streets of Northern cities as well as Southern, a negro, 'a citizen of the United States' by birth and by every constitutional right, has again lacked 'the equal protection of the laws,' pledged by the Fourteenth amendment." Sharply disagreeing with President Harding, the editorial predicted, "If the States continue to fail in their duty the American people will place the task in Federal hands."
|Tulsa Daily World, third extra edition that day, June 1, 1921|
So where were the nation's editorial cartoonists in all this?
|"The Disgrace" by Haydon Jones in New York Evening Post, March 30, 1921|
Furthermore, there quickly followed more unrest in Europe, the catastrophic Pueblo Flood in Colorado, a violent strike of miners in West Virginia, lurid crime stories, and all manner of shenanigans in state and local politics. White cartoonists' attentions and those of their publications moved on and moved away.
|Chicago Whip, June 11, 1921|
|The Monitor, Omaha, June 16, 1921|
African-American newspapers around the country, not surprisingly, followed developments closely. Very few of them, however, kept cartoonists on as regular features at this point in history. (Side note: The Tulsa Star, a vibrant Black-owned newspaper, was deliberately targeted and its building burned to the ground in the riot; no copies of the paper after January 29, 1921 exist.)
|Evening News, San Jose California, June 2, 1921|
|"Life's Darkest Moment" by Harold T. Webster in New York Herald, Sept. 27, 1921|
Getting back to cartoons: one comes across the occasional cartoon making light of America's race relations problem. Cartoons perpetuating the stereotype of African-Americans as lazy, unintelligent, or worse abounded. Even the normally gentle and benign work of H.T. Webster includes this specimen that, while avoiding insulting caricature, has not aged well.
I think you can, however, compare it to any of today's cartoons (including my own) of Marjorie Taylor-Greene, the QAnon Shaman, and other conspiracy fabulists. Who can predict what will be seen in retrospect 100 years hence as making light of the reprehensible?
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Monday, May 17, 2021
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Last Saturday's centennial retrospective reported on the month-by-month demise of Cartoons Magazine as it was taken over by light fiction magazine Wayside Tales. Today we take a look at the sort of editorial cartoons that your great-grandparents would no longer find in Cartoons Magazine.
|"Der Seiltänzer" by "L" in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, May 1, 1921|
And not just because of the salty language. Nor because of the German language; even during the Great War, Cartoons Magazine occasionally printed German cartoons. (I wonder how they would have translated "Eiffelturmspiße.")
|"Warren Gamaliel Harding" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, May 1, 1921|
|"Der Amerikanische Rettungsring" by Erich Wilke in Kladderadatsch, May 8, 1921|
|"Off with the Old..." by Dorman H. Smith for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. May 24, 1921|
It hadn't taken long for U.S. cartoonists to begin showing some sympathy for Germany's post-war plight. Notwithstanding the high anxiety about German-American saboteurs during the war, Americans tended not to harbor the same degree of animosity toward the German people as did the British and French. American vitriol was focused more on Kaiser Wilhelm and family than on their subjects.
|"If France Insists on Having Beefsteak..." by Leo Bushnell for NEA, ca. May 6, 1921|
French demands on occupying the Ruhr valley threatened to rekindle the war, and found little support from this side of the Atlantic. For now, however, Germany was unwilling to call France's bluff.
|"The Shock-Proof Public" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1921|
Instead, Germany fought to suppress an uprising of ethnic Poles in Silesia, a mineral-rich and ethnically mixed region that had been part of Germany before the war. A League of Nations-sponsored plebiscite to determine which country the region should belong to narrowly favored Germany, so Poles took up arms in May as the League members dithered.
|"If He Could Only Catch His Tail..." by Leo Bushnell for NEA, ca. May 23, 1921|
|"The Apt Pupil" by Harold "Hal" Coffman for Int'l Feature Service, ca. May 20, 1921|
|"Speaking of Disarmament" by Bill Satterfield for NEA, ca. June 2, 1921|
|"Alla Camera Nuova" by Gabriele "Rata Longa" Galantara in l'Asino, Rome, May 22, 1921|
|"The Supply and the Demand" by Harry Murphy for Star Company, ca. May 17, 1921|
|"I Can't Hear You" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, ca. May 30, 1921|
By and large, however, Carey Orr had an accurate sense of how Americans felt about foreign affairs in 1921.
Nachtrag: I ran across the word Eiffelturmspiße in a book on aerodynamics after posting this. The translation there was "Eiffel Tower spike," which makes a whole lot more sense than what every goddamned on-line translation site gave me.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
At the moment, one of the leading candidates to replace Governor Gavin Newsom in California's recall election is former Olympian, Wheaties cover athlete, and surreality TV personality is Caitlyn Jenner. In a crowded field, that may simply be a matter of name recognition, but California has a history of electing celebrity candidates; viz., Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sonny Bono, and Clint Eastwood.
You will note that all five celebrity candidates in that paragraph are Republicans. Non-GOP celebrities running for office elsewhere tend to get dismissed as lightweights in general elections (except in Minnesota).
Although a lifelong Republican and a Trump supporter, the 71-year-old performer possesses a flimsy résumé; she’s not a natural candidate any more than she is a crooner. The smart money in California says she doesn’t have a chance to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom, who enjoys the support of 56 percent of the California electorate. (Though the examples of Donald Trump, Al Franken, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sonny Bono suggest you can’t be too sure.)