Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mike Lester Brings "Fair and Balanced" to the Star Tribune Editorial Page

It appears the Star Tribune editorial page editors have decided to invoke yet another false equivalence in the art that graces their pages. After all, they have the moderate Steve Sack as an in-house political cartoonist and feature L.K.  Hanson's "You Don't Say" once a week. And gosh, Hanson had the nerve to say something that some saw as critical of religion in early February. (Hanson's cartoon is used with permission.)

So what does the Strib do to make up for these extremities? They've begun running cartoons by an artist I can only describe as around the bend to the right, Mike Lester of the Rome (Georgia) News Tribune. I noted the first of his cartoons, a few weeks back. It portrayed the issue of abortion as being between an angel quoting the commandment against killing and a devil spouting Margaret Sanger, who was speaking about birth control, not abortion. (Not to defend Sanger's views, but Lester is misusing them.)

Yesterday's cartoon was worse, if anything.

Cartoon showing an African-American veteran with no lower legs sitting in a wheelchair. Back wheels are missing, up on blocks. Reading a newspaper about Obama cutting benefits to military. In background, Obama is running away with the wheels
First, you notice that it shows a legless American veteran sitting in a wheelchair. He's reading a paper with the screaming headline "Obama: Health Care Cuts for Active and Retired Military."

Then you realize that his wheelchair is lacking its large wheels, and that they've been replaced with cinder blocks.

And finally, you see that there's a small figure in the background, running away, with the wheels under his arms. His large ears make it clear: It's supposed to be Obama.

So, in effect, Obama is just another ghetto hoodlum, stealing car parts.

Mike Lester's signature. Between the large M in Mike and the L in Lester, there's a large circle shape in the lower case e, while the i and k are cramped, so it looks like it says MOLesTer
You could argue that it's only a metaphor, that Lester could have applied in any comparable situation under Bush or Clinton. But he wouldn't have. The allusion makes no sense if it's a white guy running away, because everyone knows that the stereotype is of black (or maybe Latino) young men stripping down cars. For this cartoonist, being black is Obama's salient characteristic. If Lester had wanted to make the same general point about Clinton undermining the military, he would have invoked Clinton's weight or his philandering. About Bush.... well, let's all just agree that Lester probably didn't make many critical cartoons about Bush.

Lester tried to soften the extremity of his image by drawing the veteran as a black man as well, but that doesn't change the fact that the whole purpose of the cartoon is to paint the president of our country as a two-bit thief who would steal the wheels out from under a veteran, just because he's black.

The only good thing about the cartoon is that Lester's signature is so badly rendered that, at a glance, it's hard not to read it as "molester."

His cartoons certainly molest any sense of civil discourse in the art on the Star Tribune editorial page.

Update: Mike Lester takes his extreme views and lack of judgment one step further with this cartoon that portrays Obama as Sandra Fluke's pimp. Yes, really.

Thanks to commenter artguy1 for telling me about Lester's latest outrage. I found the link above, to, by googling "Mike Lester racist." Over a million hits. I'm sure they're not all about this Mike Lester.


Carole said...

You might like this poem about mothers

artguy1 said...

Here's a link to another INTERESTING Mike Lester cartoon
Another racist, misogynist piece of "art"

Daughter Number Three said...

Wow, arguy, that is another fine bit of vileness from Mr. Lester. Maybe he can let Rush Limbaugh sleep on his sofa after the last sponsor quits the radio show.

Daughter Number Three said...

That was supposed to be "artguy," obviously. Sorry about the typo, which Blogger won't let me correct.