Okay, here we are into a whole new cen­tu­ry, a whole new mil­len­ni­um even. We’re ten years into it and for a cen­tu­ry that’s still pret­ty new, but for a mil­len­ni­um, ten years make it prac­ti­cal­ly unborn. If we’re talk­ing about cars, then ten years is ancient, espe­cial­ly for an Amer­i­can made mod­el. I’ve heard peo­ple exclaim the year in increduli­ty when wit­ness­ing an act of igno­rance that should now be extinct. They’ll say some­thing like, “this is 2009!” They say this as if to express the anx­i­ety of hav­ing to deal with some­thing that should have fall­en into antiq­ui­ty, like lynch­ing for instance. I would exclaim the year if I saw strange fruit hang­ing from the limb of a Cypress tree. I would say, “What the fuck? This is 2009! How can this shit still be hap­pen­ing?” Phys­i­cal lynch­ing of black peo­ple and oth­er unfor­tu­nates have fall­en into antiq­ui­ty and should stay there. Nev­er again wit­nessed but sure­ly nev­er forgotten.

Injus­tice is like a virus that can morph into oth­er forms and pop up like an atavis­tic resur­gence in the cul­tur­al inher­i­tance of new soci­eties among new cit­i­zens. Those who want to be unjust will find a way to do it, because hatred is as pow­er­ful as the sex dri­ve is in humans and apes. Yes I include the apes because we are talk­ing about low­er intel­li­gence and func­tions of the basic instincts of the sapi­ens species. The human species is part of that class. For the sake of my argu­ment I won’t be side­tracked into the Intel­li­gent Design ver­sus Dar­win­ism debate. I’m talk­ing about time and igno­rance as a virus in the con­cept of high­er intel­li­gence. I’m talk­ing about hatred as a func­tion of our base instincts, inher­it­ed from our past.

Hate is very pow­er­ful poi­son. It is infec­tious, insid­i­ous and potent. It can lie beneath the veneer of our social graces and erupt like vom­it from any one of us. We all car­ry some hatred for some­thing, some­one, some­place, some time. We even hate hatred. If you put the word hate next to the word love in any jux­ta­po­si­tion, hate always wins. Try it and see. Hate love. Love hate. Even in words, it is a pow­er­ful poi­son. You can hate, hate but you still hate. You can love to hate and hate to love, but to love you must love to love. Hate can­not enter into it. I think this was the fun­da­men­tal les­son of Chris­tian­i­ty. In prac­tice, there are no Chris­tians. It’s impos­si­ble for the human species to arrive at the door of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and walk in free of hatred. Even the doc­trines of reli­gious belief give its fol­low­ers per­mis­sion to hate. You could infer that Jesus gave his fol­low­ers the per­mis­sion to hate the rich. Mohammed gave his fol­low­ers per­mis­sion to hate the infi­dels. The whole mess going on with the world is due to hate and its repercussions.

The truth about love is that it hurts too much. Love is a kiss­ing cousin to grat­i­tude. You go around expect­ing some grat­i­tude and all you get is resent­ment. Why is that? It’s because peo­ple would rather feel resent­ment than sup­pli­cate them­selves with grat­i­tude. “So what if you bailed me out, you want, my undy­ing grat­i­tude? I’ll pay you back when I can! Get off my back about it!” Resent­ment is a kiss­ing cousin of hate.

The only way love could pos­si­bly feel good is if there was no hate. Love has to be the only option. Love is alien and not of this world. It used to be, accord­ing to bib­li­cal apoc­rypha. When Eve took a bite of that apple and Pan­do­ra opened that box all bets were off. Notice how we blame the world’s trou­bles on women? That’s anoth­er blog. But since there is hate, turn­ing the oth­er cheek could get you in a world of hurt.

Besides it feels bet­ter to hate. You know how charged up you get when you’re feel­ing hatred. Your blood boils, your mind races. You feel alive! You may feel like shit lat­er, but while you’re in the throes of a good hate, it’s a rush!

Hatred is a drug that gives you a high that love can’t com­pete with. Hate is like spir­i­tu­al cocaine. You snort or smoke some and you instant­ly feel bet­ter than the object of your hatred. Love is a seda­tive. It excites in a dif­fer­ent way. It’s not very phys­i­cal in its man­i­fes­ta­tion. Love is almost invol­un­tary and creeps up on you like a psy­che­del­ic high. Love is extrater­res­tri­al. Hate is def­i­nite­ly earth­bound, a cor­ner­stone of this world. Hate feels real, there’s no ques­tion­ing the emo­tion. We’re always unsure of love though, that’s why we need to hear those three lit­tle words all the time. Love is invis­i­ble while hate is in-your-face ugly. Love is mys­te­ri­ous while hate is blunt. Some of us may nev­er know love, and we hate that. Love is some­thing that you have to be inside of; it has an insu­lar qual­i­ty. You must be in love because love is not nat­u­ral­ly inside of you. Hate on the oth­er hand, lives and  thrives inside. You don’t find your self in hate, or fall into it. We car­ry its seed. It grows inside of you until it flow­ers. Maybe that’s what the appen­dix is for; it’s a hate gland. It’s not good for any­thing else we can fig­ure. Okay, I’m kid­ding, but that con­cept sound­ed good to me.

Now that we’ve exam­ined human dichoto­my let me get to the point. In the New York Post recent­ly there was a “polit­i­cal” car­toon or “polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect” car­toon if you pre­fer that depict­ed a chim­panzee. This chimp was shot dead by the police who were stand­ing in the fore­ground with one of them exclaim­ing; “They’ll have to find some­one else to write the next stim­u­lus bill.”

What does this car­toon mean? The fact that it needs explain­ing means that it fails as a car­toon. It fails if we are to believe that a pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words, because here I am try­ing to make sense of it with words when it should be clear what the car­toon­ist intend­ed. When it comes to car­toons, I know of where I speak. I’m a pub­lished car­toon­ist as well. I’ve done polit­i­cal car­toons and was paid hand­some­ly for doing it. I was also paid some hatred for doing it too. The hatred came from the tar­gets of my pen; who were usu­al­ly incum­bent politi­cians. They react­ed the same whether they were Chica­go politi­cians or Cal­i­for­nia politi­cians. No mat­ter where, they don’t like to have their dirt exposed.

When I first saw this Post car­toon, I thought I was in for a fun­ny jibe about Travis the chimp that was gunned down in Con­necti­cut the day before. I don’t know all the details about the lady and her chimp except that the mon­key went berserk and the police shot it, no more mon­key busi­ness. As my mind focus­es in on this Post car­toon and I read the cap­tion, I’m met with con­fu­sion. For the car­toon­ist, con­fu­sion is anath­e­ma to the craft. If your car­toons con­fuse instead of clar­i­fy then you’ve muffed it…perhaps car­toon­ing is not your forte. It wouldn’t be the first time a pro­fes­sion was prac­ticed by a delu­sion­al indi­vid­ual. That’s why doc­tors have the AMA and lawyers have the Bar to keep the delu­sion­al out. But the inky pro­fes­sion can let any moron with a pen and an opin­ion in. I’m not being dis­mis­sive here, just point­ing out a con­di­tion. The edi­to­r­i­al and pub­lish­ing pro­fes­sions should be the arbiters of taste. When a car­toon­ist goes awry the edi­tors are there to reel them back in. I’ve been edit­ed and didn’t like it. I felt my artis­tic integri­ty was at odds with the edi­tor, but that’s the way the ink spills. This didn’t hap­pen in the case of the New York Post and this cartoon.

When it dawned on me that this might be a car­toon depict­ing Oba­ma as a dead mon­key, my mind searched for that phrase, “What the fuck? This is 2009!” Then I start­ed try­ing to fig­ure out if I was being reac­tionary and miss­ing the point. It seems after sev­er­al days of pon­der­ing the car­toon that I didn’t miss the point. There is no point. This car­toon seems to be just what it looks like. It looks like a very inept attempt at express­ing an idea with a wink and a nod to all those who still want to think of black peo­ple as mon­keys. I guess if the intent was to draw a racist car­i­ca­ture of our 44th pres­i­dent then it suc­ceeds on those grounds. If the intent was to dredge up old feel­ings of racial hatred then it does that admirably. The fact that the mon­key is dead is a way of lynch­ing the man in effigy.

Since Oba­ma didn’t write the stim­u­lus bill, I assume that this car­toon was cre­at­ed out of igno­rance. Igno­rance of the fact that the stim­u­lus bill was writ­ten by com­mit­tee, whose mem­bers were most­ly white if not completely.

I guess you can take the racist out of the past, but you can’t take the past out of the racist. While The New York Post looks back­ward to those hal­cy­on days of racist yore, the rest of us will look for­ward to the day when racists are only found in muse­ums, right next to the pri­mate display.

So in sum­ming up the feel­ings expressed by the New York Post in pub­lish­ing this car­toon cre­at­ed by a “car­toon­ist” who didn’t sign the work , I sub­mit this ques­tion: So you hate Oba­ma and black peo­ple, how impor­tant is that?

Please note my car­i­ca­ture of The New York Post. It’s very clear and needs no expla­na­tion. This is how us pro­fes­sion­als do it, and I’ve signed my work.


Ira Har­mon