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Tuesday, November 03, 2020 

Rich Johnston serves as apologist for an anti-Israel cartoonist

My my, so the left-leaning Bleeding Cool's Johnston published a slanted item about an interview the political cartoonist Joe Sacco was given by the CBC, where he's complaining that, amazingly enough, they chose to avoid making serious use of the Israel-invalidating propaganda of "palestine" as the name for an Arabic/Islamic state. It says here:
Joe Sacco is one of America's great graphic novelists, using the medium of comics to tell his world travelling works of reportage journalism from within a variety of communities. His most famous work is called, simply, Palestine. But it is a word that, apparently, shouldn't have been uttered in a recent interview with Canadian state broadcaster CBC.
Yes, tell us all about it, please. Sacco is somebody who, about 5 years ago, following the savage murders of Charlie Hebdo staff, made some pretty defeatist statements following the tragedy:
One might think cartoonists, as champions of irreverence and untrammeled free speech, would be unanimously resolute in defending their martyred comrades at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Yet Joe Sacco, one of the most popular and outspoken of today’s political cartoonists, is actually constructing an argument for self-censorship. What Sacco prescribes is a kind of selective self-censorship, in which cartoonists refrain from insulting Muslims—but are free to target Israelis.

Showered with accolades and awards for his book-length graphic stories about serious historical topics such as World War I, Bosnia, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, Sacco has emerged as one of the most influential figures in making the comic art form respectable beyond the confines of comic fandom—and providing educators with an effective new way to teach history.

Thus it was no surprise that Sacco was a much-sought after commentator on the Charlie Hebdo slaughter. He told the New York Times that he was, of course, “disgusted” by the “really contemptible” killings. “But,” he hurried to add, “I also come from a position of trying to understand why people are affected by images, and not just say, ‘Why can’t you take a joke?’ An image of Muhammad in some compromising position isn’t meant to be just a joke.”

Salman Rushdie, perhaps the world’s most famous target of Islamist intolerance, recently referred to these rationalizers as “the ‘but’ brigade.” For Joe Sacco, Charlie Hebdo’s satirical portrayals of Islam’s founder were not satirical at all. They were not “meant to be just a joke.” They were meant to inflict harm. He is suggesting that it was the Charlie Hebdo staffers who started it, and the men who gunned them down were guilty—but with extenuating circumstances.
And I'm wondering why people like Johnston have apparently decided this is not concerning. Especially considering a cartoon Sacco did for the UK Guardian at the time:
Sacco elaborated on his point in the way a cartoonist does best—by creating a 10-panel comic strip for the British newspaper The Guardian. Sacco’s piece, “On Satire,” attempts to discredit critics of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, both among his fellow cartoonists and the wider public. He begins by contrasting the response of other cartoonists to his own. The others are depicted as self-righteous cavemen, obnoxiously beating their chests in affirmation of free speech; he is a sober, thoughtful visitor to the graves of the victims, respectfully doffing his hat.

Sacco then shifts into “Oh yeah? Let’s see how you like it” mode. He presents distasteful caricatures of blacks and Jews, accompanied by two sarcastic questions. Next to the black man in a tree with a banana, Sacco asks, “I’m allowed to offend, right?” Next to the hook-nosed Jew counting money, he asks, “If you can take the ‘joke’ now, would it have been as funny in 1933?”

There are two glaring problems with Sacco’s comparison of the Muhammad cartoons to racist cartoons about blacks or Jews. The first is that a cartoon about Muhammad is not ipso facto a racist attack on Muslims or Arabs. It is a satirical poke at a religion. A cartoon satirizing, for example, Moses, is not automatically antisemitic. Mocking the tenets of a religious faith is not the same as making negative statements about all members of a particular race or ethnic group.

The second problem is Sacco’s superficial understanding of history. Of course, neither blacks nor Jews find it funny when a cartoonist depicts them in a bigoted fashion—but they do not murder the cartoonist. Sacco asks if his grotesque depiction of a Jew “would have been funny in 1933,” that is, the year the Nazis rose to power. It certainly would not have been funny. But German Jews did not murder anti-Semitic cartoonists in 1933. Civilized people respond in a civilized way when they are offended. In the free world, the answer to Sacco’s sarcastic question, “I’m allowed to offend, right?” is a resounding “yes.”
Naturally, it's mystifying that men like Johnston would ignore what JNS writer Rafael Medoff discovered Sacco doing, because what he drew at the Guardian was demeaning to Blacks and Jews, and blurred the differences between religion and race. Let's turn back to the BC entry, where Johnston continued with:
Back in August 2020, Sacco was interviewed about his new book, Paying The Land, on colonialism and the Dene people of the Northwest Territories of Canada by the reporter Duncan McCue, an Anishinaabe, and a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, in southern Ontario.

In his interview with Joe Sacco, McCue stated, "In so much of your work, context is key — whether it's Palestine, or whether it's Bosnia. In this book, when you're asking the Dene…" In the online version posted later, the middle clause was cut. "In so much of your work, context is key. In this book, when you're asking the Dene …" The day afterward, McCue stated, "Yesterday, in my interview with Joe Sacco, I referred to the Palestinian territories as 'Palestine.' We apologize,"
Sacco didn't take well to this, telling the anti-Israeli Mondo Weiss site:
"It's ironic that the CBC would apologize for the use of the word "Palestine" for a segment about my book, whose subject is at least partly the attempted obliteration of the cultural identity of indigenous people of the Northwest Territories, particularly through the notorious residential school system. Imagine today if the First Nations people I talked to, the Dene, would be made to apologize for using their word "Denendeh", which means "The Land of the People," for describing where they live. To whom, exactly, was the CBC apologizing for using the word "Palestine"? If anything, this storm over a proper noun brings into relief a similar way the adherents of colonial-settler projects seek to suppress native peoples and then laud their dominance. I'm sure none of this is lost on either Canada's indigenous people or Canadian-Palestinians."
It's offensive he should be comparing a contrived society in the middle east to a real society of northern American Indian descendants in Canada. I guess he also despises that much of the Arab world is now tired of the phony propaganda of a "palestinian people", and the UAE was willing to sign an agreement with Israel, and "palestine" was originally a Roman name for Israel in ancient times. Here's what the CBC said in response:
To be clear, there was no pressure from anyone. We did it because it is CBC policy to not refer to Palestine as a country or entity. Here is our internal language guidance on this issue:

Palestine vs. Palestinian territories — There is no modern country of Palestine, although there's a movement to establish one as part of a two-state peace agreement with Israel. So do not refer to Palestine or show a map with Palestine as a country. Use the term "pro-Palestinian" instead of "pro-Palestine" when referring in generic ways to Palestinian supporters. Areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority are considered Palestinian territories: Fatah-run West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

I understand that Palestine is recognized as a state by the UN, as well as more than a hundred countries and other organizations. However Canada, the U.S, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Australia, New Zealand among others do not.
Considering how far to the left CBC can be, to the point they've fallen off the planet, it's amazing they were willing to acknowledge this, and make it a network policy. It's virtually ludicrous to even refer to the Arabic population of Judea/Samaria/Gaza as "palestinians" since it turns them into tools in anti-Israeli propaganda. Something Johnston doesn't seem particularly concerned about. He concluded:
Nevertheless, it does appear to be the graphic novel that dare not speak its name.
And I guess the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capitol was something that dare not happen either, huh? Johnston is such a shallow disgrace, using the BC site as a propaganda arm for products that delegitimize the land where Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and Stan Lee's ancestry come from. All for the sake of some selfish, overrated cartoonist whose character design is something I've found hard to stomach at times, because it's in such crude, vulgar taste. Sacco isn't somebody I would consider one of the "greats". What makes him more of a big deal than Will Eisner, who practically helped popularize "graphic novel" as a description for comics in official book format? Sacco is just another faux-artiste boosted by leftist virtue-signalers who won't be viewed as particularly impressive in later history. Just as Johnston is another faux-reporter who won't register very high in the history books on comicdom either in the future.

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