I didn’t start drawing and studying editorial cartoons consistently until my senior year in college. However, I did draw a few cartoons on Iraq when I was researching Blackwater and military contractors in high school. I drew these before I knew anything about editorial cartoons, and while they are filled with mistakes and questionable decisions (it looks like I labeled a curb “Iraq”), it was my interest in the topic that got me into political cartoons.
U.S. soldiers were guaranteed care from their government when they returned from war. Veterans found just another broken promise in a relationship based on deception.
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One of my first editorial cartoons was a single panel criticism of Russia’s blatant support for the Assad regime, which had already begun massacring the Syrian opposition. Two years later, I think it’s also appropriate to criticize U.S. policy, which is supporting moderate elements of the opposition in a hesitant and limited manner. The CIA-administered support, which includes non-military aid as well as small arms, and recently, a number of anti-tank weapons, has helped sustain the opposition against the Syrian army without tipping the balance in the opposers’ favor. If one believes in both the competency and cruelty of U.S. foreign policy, this strategy could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to subject each side to the slow, bloody death of a civil-war stalemate, with hopes of some negotiated settlement down the line. However, the U.S.’s limited intervention could simply be a clumsy and risk-averse policy meant to create the illusion of “helping,” while inadvertently prolonging the conflict and allowing more lives to be lost on both sides.
The country that leads the world in foreign military interventions leads the world in condemning Russia’s foreign military intervention.
Protesters in Kiev, Ukraine recently received an ominous text message based on their proximity to the ongoing demonstrations in the center of the city. It’s easy to feel like technology is helping citizens organize and protest against the government until you receive a targeted text message reminding you that the government is watching your every move. While this cartoon is inspired by the events in Ukraine, it can be applied much more generally to protest and dissent in any country, as mass surveillance technologies like facial recognition continue to develop and become ubiquitous.
The unsolved problems that have dominated the national discourse this year will only intensify as we make our way into another election year.
2013 was the first year that I kept a consistent schedule, working with The Gabbler’s editors to pitch ideas and angles for cartoons. Again and again, I found myself focusing on certain themes: the intimate relationship between moneyed interests and the government; technology and the perpetually-multiplying powers of the executive branch; and political events that are shaping the direction of the world.
The closeness between the government and moneyed interests is clearly on display in the legal treatment of banks for their far-reaching crimes. My first cartoon this year – an admittedly conventional and unimpressive illustration of an unidentified character shouting at the DOJ’s Lanny Breuer and an oversized personification of HSBC – was a reaction to small fines for heinous money laundering practices. This topic came up again in October, when J.P. Morgan Chase and their acquisitions WaMu and Bear Sternes also avoided criminal charges for recklessly tanking the economy.
This theme will likely be even more pronounced in 2014, as corporations continue to shape our government by blatantly using massive amounts of money to choose who gets elected, and the gap between the rich and poor widens.