The Nib

A Moment Significant of Either Something Important or Nothing In Particular

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

There is this, from Jacob Hamburger for L.A. Review of Books

What exactly are the ideas that have made people like Weinstein, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Christina Hoff Sommers into what a recent New York Times profile described as intellectual “renegades”? According to the Times writer Bari Weiss, most emphasize the biological differences between men and women, a feeling that free speech is “under siege,” and a fear that “identity politics” is a threat to the United States’s social fabric.

A listener of Harris’s podcast might add to the list a vociferous defense of the validity of genetic explanations for IQ differences between racial groups, a follower of Peterson’s videos might insist on the nefarious influence of “postmodern neo-Marxism” on college campuses, and a fan of Ben Shapiro might contribute a skepticism toward the reality of “transgenderism.”

The movement sees itself as an alliance that defies established political categories in order to defend these ideas against the creeping influence of thought control. This leads us to another important meaning of the term intellectual dark web, the suggestion that its ideas are not only controversial, but particularly innovative in our political moment. If the dark web arouses the anger of certain commentators in the media or the academy, it is for the same reasons that new technologies in the internet age are “disruptive.”

It would take a short memory, however, not to notice that these sorts of polemics over political correctness are anything but novel: they have been around for at least 30 years, ever since a strikingly similar set of media debates centered around college campuses took off in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Toward the end of the Reagan years, political correctness became a favorite bugbear of conservative intellectuals, who believed that college professors had latched onto illiberal or totalitarian notions of equality, and were indoctrinating their students with a subversive view of American society. Today’s “dark web” provocateurs rarely mention these predecessors, who not too long ago occupied a similar place in national media debates. Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 17 July 2018.But the comparison suggests that the “iconoclastic” ideas of these figures are actually a well-established institution in American discourse: an institution whose home is on the political right.

—and what stands out is that we really ought not be surprised. To the one, the general point is nothing new; to the other, what is the significance of this particular discussion getting this press at this time?

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Image note: Top — Detail of Lucifer, by Franz von Stuck, 1890.  Bottom — Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, via The Nib, 17 July 2018.

Hamburger, Jacob. “The ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ Is Nothing New”. Los Angeles Review of Books. 18 July 2018.

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A Note on Civility and Equivocation

#wellduh | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Radical Centrism 101: Detail of cartoon by Matt Lubchansky, via The Nib, 31 May 2017.

In such time as we have to reflect on notions of civility and politic, and observing its coincidence in which we grasp both desperately and often belligerently after comparisons in history, it does occur that sometimes these lines of thought and inquiry merge or intersect or whatever else they might do, and from this nexus arises a question worth considering:

• While rhetoric of conservative backlash often drew puzzlement and even mockery, and centrists, liberals, progressives, and leftists alike have scrambled to remind women, queers, and blacks what happens when we make too much uncivil noise, like winning court cases or wondering who would actually claim a religious right to actively sabotage health care, there is also an iteration of Green Lantern Theory whereby President Obama could reconcile the political factions by simply charming and schmoozing Republicans enough, including that he should never speak common platitudes of empathy because, being a black president, doing so apparently means one is trying to start a race war; and, yes, it seems worth wondering just how much worse the conservative and crossover payback would have been had the nation’s first black president gone on to prosecute war criminals, including the white woman recently minted Director of CIA.

When questions of civility arise, perhaps we ought to consider just how we might answer such demand for civility that torture and white supremacism are not somehow uncivil.

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Image note: Radical Centrism 101 — Detail of cartoon by Matt Lubchansky, via The Nib, 31 May 2017.

The Ted Cruz Show (Interpretive Dance Edition)

 Detail of "Ted Cruz is Running for President!" by Matt Lubchansky, 24 March 2015, via The Nib.The fun thing we already know about getting to know 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz is what we already know. This will be an amazing show. The only real question is what makes him think he can pull this off. We might grasp after a second, and wonder if the answer to the first actually matters.

And, yes, he really did say that.

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Image note: Detail of “Ted Cruz is Running for President!” by Matt Lubchansky, 24 March 2015, via The Nib.

A note on the title: I am aware it makes no sense. Neither does Sen. Cruz.

An American Priority

Detail of cartoon by Matt Bors, 10 December 2014, via The Nib.Something about priorities goes here. And in our experience the underlying sentiment is not uncommon, yet many people do not like to admit it.

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Bors, Matt. “White People Problems”. The Nib. 10 December 2014.

Our Best Wishes for the Happiest of Genocide Days

Easter in the nation's capital was a dark and gloomy day with a chill breeze blowing, but U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

In honor of our American Feast of the Genocide, how about some thematically-related cartoons?

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 28 November 2014.Adam Huber leads off, giving thanks to the internet that he might post tomorrow’s cartoon today, that in turn he might spend tomorrow either hung over or tryptocomatose.

Lalo Alcaraz, like many others, reflects on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

• Speaking of true meanings, Adam Huber took a shot at it earlier this week.

• Or maybe Brian McFadden puts forward a more appropriate reflection on the true meaning of “Thanksgiving Day”.

―No, really. Steve Benen offered a vignette earlier this week explaining one of the great political controversies surrounding the idea of “Thanksgiving Day” that is worth the two minutes it takes the average literate American to read. It is also where we got the photo of FDR on Easter. Go figure; go fish.

Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 25 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.Jen Sorensen attempts to summarize the crazy, tinfoil relative who reminds us why we need to keep the fact of attempted genocide in mind as a fundamental component of our Thanksgiving Day rituals.

Reuben Bolling offers a glimpse at Genocide Day Thanksgiving Day in Chagrin Falls.

• #TBT the time Adam Huber won the Genocide Day Cartoon Parade by starting in April.

In re the above, to the one we promise that is the last of the Huber cartoons for today. Prolific about genocide? Genocide-prolific? Can we just go with genolific? At any rate, our apologies for this post in general; we’ve known it was coming for months, having filed this cartoon away for this year’s celebration.

• We might note that Matt Tarpley managed an actual feelgood cartoon in honor of “Thanksgiving Day”. It is also worth pointing out that apparently Death closes his eyes when swinging. And yet, Death bats a thousand.

• Not to disparage the fine artists above, but Zach Weiner deserves some sort of award for skipping the holiday edition altogether. Thus, a cartoon from earlier this week that reminds us to give thanks for consumerism, undereducation, and paranoia, which really are the thematic components of what we Americans make of this day.

And while the wannabe patriots and pragmatists might moan about how people just won’t forget history and celebrate the glorious triumph of all that came after the attempted genocide, it is equally appropriate to remind them to go screw and give thanks that nobody is trading them death blankets as an act of biological warfare disguised in alleged commerce.

Otherwise, give thanks like you would for any other day, that we are still here and get to experience it, and perhaps take a moment to wonder why we put ourselves through this ritual that nobody seems to like, since we’re always muttering about the Turkey Pardon, the banality of parades, fretting over how to get the best Black Friday deals (Hint: Do your shopping last Monday, at least until next year when the new statistics show us which day actually has the best prices), or complaining that anyone would spend this miserable day of family gatherings—over tasteless ritual food and football games that more often than not have nothing to do with your favorite team—getting drunk.

But make sure to raise a wrist for genocide.

Something You Shouldn’t Read at Work

N....S....F....WOkay, look, middle age is what it is. And with many things, it really is true that it’s not how old you are but how not old you feel.

And, yet …

… I must be getting old, despite refusing to grow up.

I mean, I’m pretty sure Erika Moen’s flip-hole cartoon is genuinely funny, but … why am I not laughing?

I mean, really, even the gratuitous New Hope joke just isn’t moving me the way it should.

I’m guessing there is a matter of perspective involved that I’m just missing. Like Wooderson raving about his car. That is, if you don’t get the underlying trope, you won’t understand why the joke is funny.

Still, though, we cannot forget the tireless dedication of our comic artists. The amount of thought and effort that goes into a joke like that is both incalculable and just a bit scary.

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TURD: NSFW.