April 26, 2007

Day By Day: Crossing A Line?

Today's panel of Day by Day uses blackface on Hillary Clinton to make a political point about her pandering to the African-American community by changing the cant and accent of her speech to sound more "black". Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House criticized Chris Muir on his own blog and on Heading Right this morning:

Considering how we conservatives trashed Jane (”you ignorant slut”) Hamsher for photoshopping Lieberman in black face, shouldn’t we police our own and give Mr. Muir a few well chosen jabs for his insensitivity?

As I point out in my blog post, there is more than political correctness at stake here. The Minstrel Show - which is where black face comes from - did more than any other American institution to spread the black stereotypes we’re so familiar with today.

I responded by agreeing with Rick, although I think the Hamsher example is less apropo than the Steven Gilliard incident. Gilliard photoshopped blackface onto Michael Steele to accuse him of pandering to whites -- in short, of being black only on the surface. He also called Steele "Simple Sambo", a rather unsubtle support for his argument.

Conservatives and liberals alike slammed Gilliard for his blogpost then; eighteen months later, should Chris Muir get a pass? It's going to be a running topic on Heading Right, so keep checking back for more discussion on the topic.


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» Hillary and identity politics from Bookworm Room
Day by Day says it all: UPDATE:  I just read at the Captain’s Quarters that people think the above cartoon, which uses blackface, crossed the line.  That’s a rather interesting point, because I’ve been one of those to pile onto Dem... [Read More]

» Day By Day's Chris Muir Gives Hillary a Blackface from Jon Swift
Chris Muir, the cartoonist who draws Day By Day, thought it was a terribly unfair double standard that only liberals get to use blackface so he decided to do something about it. [Read More]

Comments (34)

Posted by eforhan [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:12 AM

Now wait a minute... Malkin's been criticizing Clinton for changing her accent to suit a black audience -- the cartoon seems to be the logical extension of this toward the wife of the "first Black president".

Contrast that with Michael Steele, who ~is~ a Black man; not just pretending to be one for the votes. Photoshopping a blackface onto a Black man who doesn't toe the line is the epitome of racism.

Posted by ScottM [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:21 AM

Meh. Maybe I have outrage fatigue, but this doesn't bother me (and I'm not particularly a Chris Muir fan). Nor does Hamsher's Lieberman photoshop.

I also think you're mistaken about the proper comparison. Both the Lieberman photoshop and Hillary cartoon were intended to accuse white candidates of pandering to blacks. I think putting them in blackface is a perfectly reasonable way of making the point. The attacks are on the white candidates, not on blacks. (OK, it was a little weird that Hamsher posted the Lieberman one in an irrelevant context, but stll....)

The Gilliard incident, on the other hand, was a racist attack on a black man for daring to think for himself. That's a very different thing.

Posted by Insufficiently Sensitive [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:23 AM

Hillary has been deliberately participating in a minstrel show through use of the English language noticeably different than her normal diction.

If it were done in back rooms in personal conversation with other who used the same inflections (if such people really exist), it would be excuseable social adaptation. But it's not, when knowingly spewed into large groups whose members might well be insulted by such presumption - particularly if they do not all speak the same as Hillary's stage-talk.

That diction declares that 'you (audience) are different than us (Senate), and I (Hillary) know it'. It would take more than one self-appointed 'community leader' to excuse her - we should hear from each member of her victim congregations about their feelings toward those travesties of language.

So the cartoon, aimed directly at Hillary's deliberate social fakery, is legitimate criticism. Let it roll.

Posted by TomTom [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:47 AM

Give it a rest, Ed. It's called Freedom of Speech. There seems to be vestigial political correctness in your corpus, reactivating, sad to say.

Posted by HotJavaJack [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:54 AM

I think context is important. Hillary herself laid the groundwork for this and I'm surprised it took this long to find its way into a political cartoon. Heck, she practically drew the cartoon herself with her ridiculous, phony act of pandering.

There's also a huge difference between the Gilliard / Steele and Clinton / Lieberman situations. The former were deliberate, hurtful attacks on blacks, while the latter illustrated the goofy manner in which white politicians behave when trying to be something they clearly aren't.

Posted by jethro [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:56 AM

When I hear HRC go ebonic, I have a mental picture of Al Jolson in blackface. I think Chris Muir is on target. A counterpunch for Ted Rall's horrible cartoons of Condi Rice is overdue.

Posted by jiHymas@himivest.com [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:05 AM

Day-by-Day has its occasional funny moment. The sequence in which the gang went to the shooting range was funny. The sequence in which the gang went to the Clinton reception was funny.

This is outweighed by the strip's defects. Most of the time it's simply not funny and worse, is just childish name calling.

Take it off, Ed.

Posted by krm [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:06 AM

I think Muir's strip is an appropriate commentary on Hilary's behavior.

I don't recall what Lieberman did to trigger Hamasher's hit. Given Lieberman's long public life, I would find it greatly out of character for him to have done anything that would warrant the hit from Hamasher. Hilary, to the extent that she has any character, is perfectly deserving of Muir's rendering.

Posted by IAmFree [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:07 AM

I don't think that the cartoon is entirely wrong, in fact I believe that if Hillary thought she would get away with it and it would get her a single vote, she would do it in a heartbeat.

Posted by eforhan [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:22 AM

Listen to her. It's like she thinks she's a Black preacher talking to a room full of maids and servants.

Perhaps the "maids and servants" goes too far. I don't know--she's certainly stuck on making cleaning comparisons. But it absolutely had the feel of any of the several Black church services I've ever been to.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:24 AM

Clinton exercises patently obvious pandering to black audiences via her references and accent. Furthermore, she's campaigning against Democrat Obama who, as I assume everyone notices, is a black man who by default will garner more of the liberal, black vote (which trends strongly Democrat and has for decades) and who is Hillary's greatest, primary threat. Thirdly, Clinton is a political machine who will say and do anything for power.

I'm amazed that this is considered the least bit offensive, but I absolutely understand why certain quarters would get bent out of shape over it. Clinton's pandering, particularly with her regionally spiced rhetoric, is the elephant in the room (no pun intended). It draws considerable attention to Clinton's disingenuity in a concise manner. It's a powerful body blow to the Clinton facade.

Posted by Jon Prichard [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:43 AM

Painting Hillary in blackface is the ONLY appropriate way to convey the utter social and racial hypocracy typically demonstrated by the Left. Jolson style blackface IS a negative stereotype when used by white people to portray black people unfairly as did Al Jolson and Ted Danson for that matter. Muir's cartoon doesn't cross any lines of propriety. The plain fact is Hillary is doing her best Al Jolson when she starts with the 'jive talk' in public speeches.

Making political points using black atmospherics isn't new or out of bounds. Warren Beatty used this technique in the movie Bulworth without much criticism (though the movie itself was criticized heavily). Frankly it's embarrasing to see a sitting US senator try to pass off the worst black preacher imitation in the history of show business, er politics. Where's Barbara Billingsly when we need her? I understand she speaks jive.

Posted by DaveR [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:52 AM

Apples and oranges being compared here. Muir is commenting directly on Hillary's literal adoption of phony "black" behavior in front of black audiences.
The other examples given were instances of using a negative racial stereotype to in effect call people sellouts over political positions unrelated to race.

Posted by GarandFan [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:56 AM

I thought it was funny. Racist? How? Shillary is trying to be something she's not. And please don't tell me she's doing it in order to "relate" to her audience. How can a society bemoan kids "who talk Black" and how it will hurt their ability to advance economically, yet a US Senator can speak that way? Do you think Shillary would get hired if she were to go into a job interview and speak in such a manner?

Posted by CayuteKitt [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:59 AM

As I posted, in part, over at the Heading Right blog:

What Chris Muir did by blackfacing Hillary Clinton was a masterful use of parody to illustrate just how abusive her pandering to potential African American constituents has become. My hat’s off to him.

Now matter how much of a stretch you ‘moral equivalent’ naysayers try for, it just won’t wash this time. It’s time we stop throwing our own under the bus every time the truth tweaks some Liberal’s nose!

Posted by trapeze [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:02 AM

The strip in question is obviously political commentary and, however close to being racially offensive, it is appropriate considering the target's behavior.

OTH, I don't care for Day By Day. I find it unfunny and irritating. Apologies to Chris Muir but I don't care for (and never have cared for) Doonesbury either.

I was quite happy to find out that if I chose an alternative Captain's Quarters skin then the Day By Day strip did not appear. Therefore I don't have to complain to Ed and ask him to remove it...I can remove it myself.

Posted by james23 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:04 AM

*If* Hillary hadn't been caught on tape TWICE doing black-cent for black audiences, the Hamsher analogy would be persuasive.

However, in these circumstances, the Hamsher episode is irrelevant. Hillary stuck her double chin out. Muir is not wrong to land one squarely on that exposed chin. Heck, even AP is running a story mildly criticizing Hildebeast for her black-cent.

Posted by horse [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:29 AM

It is satirical and directly pokes at an obvious flaw of the candidate. It is the flaw of the candidate the insults, not pointing out the obvious flaw.

Overall it's a good strip, and a nice counter to the more childish and nauseating strips from the other side.

Posted by Ray [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:40 AM

"--Forgive me for I have sinned--". What on earth is going on these days? During a boxing match, if one fighter lands a good one on an opponent, is he then supposed to lower his gloves in order to get a rataliatory punch back?

Rick Moran can be assured that the opposition can take care of themselves. While we play following Marquis De Queenbury rules, the left plays by Marquis De Sade's.

The left has fallen into a Faustian bargain. It has developed a symbiotic relationship with the war on terror and the mainstreet media. Under the relationship's rules, the left and the terrorists get the front page with massive carnage and "war is lost" pleadings. The agreement requires that no criticism is given to stonings, beheadings or children made into bombs. No name calling is allowed, the left and the MSM are not allowed to call them terrorists. No cartoons are allowed, only those that show Bush with big ears may be displayed. No heroes may get recognized on our side. Only our body bags and our coffins are permitted to be shown.

Like all agreements, this one had it's beginning and will have it's ending. First, they came after our soldiers, then they came after our leaders, then they came after our buildings and our institutions. Then they came after us. And lastly, as the old saying goes, they will go after the media.

Posted by ScottM [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:41 AM

Let me just say that my point was not about whether either Muir's or Hamsher's accusation was right or wrong, merely about the use of blackface as a means of making an accusation of dishonestly pandering to blacks.

Posted by Jim M [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 12:25 PM

The cartoon and the Day by Day site are apparently down, so I haven't seen what's being discussed.

But it is a cartoon for crying out loud. Not an alteration of a real picture. And so it should be permissible.

The real question, though, is whether it's effective. Looks to me like many of us think there's a problem with the comic strip itself and this cartoon is likely to create more problems. And I do like Doonsbury--I think Chris Muir just isn't anywhere as near as talented or funny as Trudeau.

Posted by CayuteKitt [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 12:59 PM

I'm going to add a comment here, to say that I'm really getting pretty irritated with all of the conservative bloggers who jump on the "throw them under the bus" bandwagon under the guise of "policing our own". At this point it's quite gotten out of hand.

I've followed Right Wing Nuthouse for a year now, and have watched Moran tack to the center, and cross over lately. As of last week I had deleted the bookmark from favorites.

I'm one of those blogosphere fans who not only thoroughly enjoys blogs, but I also check out the advertisers to help support the blogs I enjoy to keep them thriving.

It's time that, like all American consumers, we blog fans started voicing our displeasure when bloggers become destructive rather than constructive.

I will no longer read, nor patronize the advertisers of, any blog that sets itself up as judge, jury and executioner in a knee-jerk policitally correct fashion, before the facts have a chance to come out and the person(s) involved have a chance to defend themselves.

The Libs/Dems/MSM have been doing this for years, and too many people's, many of them innocent, lives have been ruined needlessly and senselessly.

Enough is enough! I'm letting my fingers do the walking and the bottom line do the talking.

Posted by Rich Horton [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 2:35 PM

Cartoonists usually get a wider degree of latitude, as do obvious satirical sites like The Onion. If Time magazine was putting photoshop blackface on a cover subject THAT would be over the line.

The only "line" here is good taste, but that will be entirely subjective.

Besides, I don't really remember people getting their knickers in a twist when Bloom County had the story line about the "photo pigmentizer."

Posted by Rich Horton [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 2:36 PM

Cartoonists usually get a wider degree of latitude, as do obvious satirical sites like The Onion. If Time magazine was putting photoshop blackface on a cover subject THAT would be over the line.

The only "line" here is good taste, but that will be entirely subjective.

Besides, I don't really remember people getting their knickers in a twist when Bloom County had the story line about the "photo pigmentizer."

Posted by TyCaptains [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 2:55 PM

Normally I find Day by Day to be extremely shallow and intentionally far too simplistic. It lacks the sublime subtlety that truely great political cartoons all have.

But I have to admit, I found this one to be drop dead hilarious!

Posted by BD [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 3:22 PM

I went back and looked. At the time, Allahpundit wrote:

As AllahPundit puts it,

"Incidentally, what message, do you suppose, was she trying to convey with this bit of ’shoppery? Gilliard’s photoshop of Michael Steele was a comment on how conservatives supposedly see blacks, with the blackface a grotesque symbol of Steele’s perceived willingness to play to racial stereotypes. Hamsher’s image presumably is a comment on Lieberman being a closet Republican who’s posing as a Democrat, her symbol for which is … minstrel make-up?"

There's your context: Lieberman was running against ubernut darling Ned Lamont and Hamsher was attacking Lieberman's authenticity as a Democrat. To do that, she put Lieberman in blackface.

Now, think about history & you'll get it.

It had nothing to do with race - except to the extent that implying that Lieberman was "owned" by the Republicans has anything to do with race. I know of no one (at least, no one who's serious) who'd claim Hillary! is "owned" by black voters.

Hillary! in blackface (with the fake accent & "plantation talk") is engaged in pandering, and Muir's cartoon speaks to the depths to which she's sunk in her pandering.

Posted by The Fop [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 7:38 PM


Jane Hamsher putting Lieberman in blackface wasn't offensive, just hypocritical.

It's the liberals who are obsessed with showing racial sensitivity. So according to THEIR rules, there should never be an excuse to show anyone in blackface for any reason, as it might scar some Black person for life, like the Rutgers women's basketball team were "scarred for life" by Imus's comments.

One of the reasons I defected to the Republicans was because I came to the realization that liberals had lost their sense of humor because they're so afraid of offending anyone. Liberal humor has been reduced to vulgar sex jokes, bathroom humor and making fun of conservatives. The only liberals who are allowed to make fun of minorities are comedians who are members of the particular minority group that they're making fun of. I refer to them as "identity comics".

Posted by JAT [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 7:40 PM

Excuse me, Clinton is pandering, no mocking openly, blacks, and we are criticizing Muir? Give me a break. Steele, Rice, Lieberman, those were slams that we should all voice our concerns about. Listen to idiots like Rosanne and just about any rapper out there - Muir is just doing political cartoons. I have yet found anything he has done to really bother me.

Posted by Pete [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 8:19 PM

Enough, already, of speech codes, speech taboos, PC thought control, identity groups with special protections, racial hypersensitivity, class warfare, blah blah blah. We're becoming more like Putin than Russia is.

When we let the left dictate our values, we let them engineer our culture so as to turn it against us. Until we flatly reject their emotionalist (postmodern, progressive, PC) value system, we'll continue to be it's political victims.

For a cartoonist, blackface may be a legitimate means of expression, depending on the purpose and circumstances surrounding it. To insist that blackface is ipso facto racist, then to demonize everyone who uses it, is dangerous to a free society. It is Stalinesque.

Posted by conservative democrat [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:11 PM

"We let the left dictate our values" dude, if ANYONE but you is dictating your values, you have a serious problem. Trying to blame the "left" (like its a monolith) for everything is just the republicans way of not accepting any blame for anything. It doesn't work, it won't work, my side sees right thru those cute little blame games. Like Bush isn't to blame for anything, try living in the real world and not the "the msm is to blame for everything." Fox News is msm, try blaming that propaganda wing of the republican party.

Posted by Sailfish [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:47 PM

Hello Ed, I think your criticism of the Day-By-Day cartoon is misplaced. The use of satire, especially biting satire, is what political cartoons/punits are meant for. It is through the outlandish that real insight is seen.

I mostly enjoy reading your reasoned commentary on any number of political issues but over the past several months I couldn't help but think that your "high moral" positions against certain conservative pundits like Ann Coulter and now Chris Muir have had the effect of being counter-productive to the conservative movement. I say that even though I don't count myself among the conservative crowd. Sure, in the end you may fell comfortable claiming the high moral ground but the Left has always been more than willing to cede that territory anyway.

This is politics, not bean bag ... or something like that.

Posted by TyCaptains [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 27, 2007 12:02 AM


Is "not being counter-productive to the conservative movement" more important than "being true to oneself"?

Don't get me wrong, I laughed at the cartoon quite a bit but I don't understand the justification about giving up one's own self identify and moral code just to avoid some sort of party agenda.

Posted by Rose [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 27, 2007 11:21 PM

Forgive me, but when I was a child, I "mistakenly" though t Blackface was a SLAUTE to Black talent that was richly deserved. I didn't know about the politics until I was much more than full-grown, and it just doesn't have the impact on my child-rearing attitudes the Left would appreciate - possibly many Righties, too.

I do despise the use of Blackface by Liberals to make it APPEAR that genuine efforts by NON-LIBERALS to extend themselves to Blacks is by their standards (of lies) only pandering.

But Chris Muir's use of it to show Hillry pandering is more than appropriate, anyway ANYONE slices it.

NO ONE has more hypocritically PANDERED to Blacks than the Clintons, and yet simultaneously bothered with a single instance of genuine extension of a brotherly hand - as the roster of the Clinton's appointments and staff have always displayed, and still do.

We in the South have fixed attitudes about pandering, I gawr-own-tee. It may have been hard for the nation to know what that [Souther attitude] was, as long as the Dims managed to force our CEMETARIES to pander to the DIMS, but when we got those things broke - those SHACKLES cast off, we ain't having no troubles wit' it all, now.

Chris was RIGHT! And a picture is worth a thousand words - he didn't demonstrate anything that the commentators weren't SAYING about Hillary and her various accents.

That crack of her, trying to associate herself witht he CLEANING LADIES....

"FEARING TO LOOK UNDER THE OVAL OFFICE RUG - after the state the CLintons left the White House in, for GW Bush????? LITERALLY leaving human excrement on the WALLS of the WHITE HOUSE as THEIR parting shot!!!

Give me a phryqqueing break.

Posted by Rose [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 27, 2007 11:31 PM

Sorry for all the typos, thought I'd re-read it more carefully, apologies.