My Most Controversial Cartoon Ever (So Far)

Nine years ago today (holy shit) The State News published the following cartoon:

ramsey_20051111

I drew this piece at the height of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, which had by that time had expanded its scope to include abuse of prisoners at Bagram Air Force Base and Guantanamo Bay, as well as a constellation of sinister “black sites” scattered around the globe. The nation was still partly in the orgiastic throes of war fever back then, and needless to say the cartoon caused a bit of a stir. This included the picketing of the paper’s offices by Young Republicans demanding my head on a plate.

I’m happy to say that my neck remained attached to my shoulders. However, I’m very much less happy about the more than 2000 additional photos of prisoner abuse — said to be “even more disturbing than the infamous prison photos from Abu Ghraib” — that the Obama administration has refused to release, citing (what else?) national security concerns.

The ACLU has been trying to secure disclosure of these photos since the very beginning of the scandal in 2004, and thankfully a federal judge last month ordered the Justice Department to provide its rationale for withholding each and every photo. I eagerly await December 12, when the least transparent administration in history must make its declaration.

Assuming the declaration will even be made public, that is.

France’s ban on religious headgear goes too far

This article was originally published in The Clarion Call.

On April 11, France became the first country in Europe to ban the hijab, the veil that some Muslim women wear to cover their faces according to religious custom.

The law, passed last fall by the French Senate by a near-unanimous vote of 246 to one, prohibits any clothing that covers the face to be worn in public.

Though controversial, the measure is popular in France, where anti-Muslim sentiment runs high amid fears of an increasingly Islamic Europe. Women in violation of the ban are subject to a 150-euro fine (about $217) and a mandatory “citizenship course.”

Perhaps those who are in favor of stripping their fellow citizens of the right to wear whatever they want and freely practice their religion (about three quarters of the French population according to polling) are the ones in need of a refresher course on citizenship. Continue reading →

Bigotry against Muslims has reached a new low

This article was originally published in The Clarion Call.

All summer, we as a nation were subjected to much manufactured outrage over the Park 51 Muslim community center set to be built in lower Manhattan, a few blocks away from the former site of the World Trade Center towers.

The vast majority of New Yorkers weren’t against it. It was established over and over that the owners of the site (which now is home to a derelict Burlington Coat Factory) have every right to build whatever they please on their property. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the New York City imam who would lead the new community center, has been demonized in the right-wing media as a terrorism-connected monster. But he was quickly revealed to be a Muslim leader with stellar moderate bona fides.

To the people protesting against Park 51, none of this matters. Continue reading →

Cartoonist speaks out on “anti-Catholic” depiction

This article was originally published in The Clarion Call.

As a political cartoonist, there’s nothing I like to see more than my work stoke controversy and initiate debate. Indeed, this is the primary reason for the existence of political cartoons. On April 1, Holy Thursday, I drew a cartoon about the Catholic church that did exactly that.

When faced with the reality of predator priests in their midst [church officials] have responded by doing everything in their power to minimize damage to the church, even if that means protecting rapists and silencing the victims of their abuse.
Some called it bigoted. Others said it was offensive to run a cartoon criticizing the church during Holy Week. It even prompted a letter from Clarion University President Joseph P. Grunenwald to each member of The Call’s editorial board and its faculty adviser questioning the decision to publish the cartoon.

While the cartoon may have been offensive to some, any implication that The Call wasn’t well within its rights under the First Amendment to publish it is ludicrous. It’s much more offensive that the officials of a major world religion are protecting child rapists while cowing their victims into silence with threats of hellfire than a political cartoon ever could be. Continue reading →

We elected him, so now let’s get to work

This article was originally published in The Clarion Call.

Obama showed in the election his ability to convince voters to support his policies, but the test now is whether he can translate that ability to effect change within government itself.Barack Obama’s first week as president of the United States is in the history books, and what a week it’s been. The new president is obviously eager to demonstrate his commitment to changing the disastrous policies we’ve come to know and hate under the Bush regime.

He already has ordered the infamous prison facility at Guantanamo Bay to close within a year, lifted the ban on states from setting their own fuel efficiency standards, reversed the so-called “Global Gag Rule,” a ban on foreign aid to groups that offer advice on abortion, and ordered the military to begin designing a plan to withdraw from Iraq in 16 months. Continue reading →

Poison at the Root

Originally published at The State News, Michigan State University’s student newspaper.

Me, c. 2007.

It may not have surprised some of you when we learned that MSU’s Young Americans for Freedom was about to be listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, a civil rights organization dedicated to tracking the activity of such groups across the nation.
We have all seen the hateful and bigoted rhetoric MSU’s YAF spews forth on a daily basis. We’ve all seen its racist sidewalk chalk messages, its homophobic protest signs and other attempts to spread its deranged worldview around campus. Continue reading →

Bush’s errors as president call for impeachment proceedings

Originally published at The State News, Michigan State University’s student newspaper.

Me, c. 2007.

It seems like a lifetime ago that George W. Bush was installed as president by a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, but only a little more than six short years have passed since that fateful decision.

In just six years, Bush turned a record budget surplus into a record deficit.

He took our national reputation from an unprecedented high after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to an unprecedented low, a downward slide that has been mirrored by his approval ratings.

He has repeatedly asserted the authority to operate without oversight and ignore laws and judicial rulings with wild abandon. Continue reading →