Cartoons Here, Cartoons There
Posted by shanamaidel on August 5, 2008
In the United States, the offensive cartoon of the hour was the cover of the New Yorker Magazine from a few weeks back. You know the one, where Barak Obama looks like he is out of the Middle East, and his wife, Michelle, dressed like a Black Panther. it was meant to match an internal article about the political rise of Barak Obama along the Gold Coast and Hyde Park. (Which is why most people found the cover outrageous rather than slyly funny. Then again, I get to count myself among the few to have spent a good deal of time in Hyde Park, so I saw Louis Farrakhan– and Bill Ayer-type references, both of whom live/work locally to me, across the cover and found it hilarious.).
In France, a similar controversy over a cartoon is brewing loudly. The cartoonist, known as Siné, is a self-professed anti-Semite and Communist. His target is the newly engaged Jean Sarkozy (yes you are reading that last name right). He’s engaged to a lovely Jewish girl, Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, an heiress to one of the largest fortunes in France, the Darty Electronics Chain.
If I were a hopping mad cartoonist anti-semite, of course I would butt into a lovely private moment! Which is exactly what happened. Sine published a very anti-semitic cartoon, which claimed that Jean was converting and marrying her primarily for political reasons. (It seems that he is seen as a sort of political heir apparent in France).
Being France where there are a large amount of literary establishments, and a much larger leftist establishment, no one noticed for about a week. Suddenly it came to pass that a radio-station picked up on the anti-Semitic the cartoon was. It has since been pulled from the paper it was published in and scrubbed from the Internet , which is why we are unable to attach it to this post.
This is the way the story stands now. The New York Times is covering it with a lovely editorial about freedom of the press issues, and freedom of religion issues, while the UK Guardian has a lovely summary of what has happened until now.
However I have a serious question for the French Jewish community. Not that I advocate violence (in fact I prefer the Gandhi and MLK way of making a point), but I am starting to wonder. Right now, because of essentially hooliganism, you cannot wear a kippah in the streets of Paris. And now this.
What would happen to all of us if ignored all but the worst of Antisemitism. If we made a point, as a society, to make it outcast behavior, something that only the lowest tiers of people do? Right now, it seem as if Parisians are behaving as if it is something in the background that is always there. But there is something to be said for a large social science experiment where these sorts of things become unacceptable. We made it something to stare at, because someone who would perpetrate such behavior would become beyond the pale odd. The Siné situation proves that these situations, in our hearts of hearts, we still fear and expect these forms of virulent antisemitism. If we made them odd, strange, would they disappear?
Would we scrub out a little more hatred with our stares, or am I a little naive?
(And a Mazel Tov to the Couple. May You Build a Bayis Ne’eman B’ France. and B’Yisrael)