Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 11/12/08


Artist's Statement

I cannot get enough of the news this week. The Obamas visiting their new home, the White House. Sarah Palin standing back in her office in Alaska, which is strewn with blue balloons and hung with the kind of banner you’d buy for a kid’s birthday party saying: “WELCOME HOME, GOVERNOR.” The Republican Party trying to pinpoint just where they went off-message. The South finally relegated to the same the irrelevant jerkwater politically that it’s always been in reality. Having allowed myself to wallow unashamedly in the joy of victory, watched digital camera videos of crowds hugging cops on Dekalb Avenue, listened to Obama’s books on CD (read by the author), and played Bruce Springsteen’s “Land of Hope and Dreams” and Patrick Doyle’s score for the "St. Crispin’s Day" speech in Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V about seventy times each, I finally decided to indulge myself in looking in on the reactions of conservatives to the Obama victory.

A mistake, of course. It’s not even that gratifying to gloat over their defeat; their perceptions are so untouched by reality that they’re not even abandoning the same field we won. They seem to think that the election of this centrist pro-business Democrat is the end of America, the foundation of some totalitarian Marxist state, the installment of an Islamofascist Quisling in the Oval Office, and that at any moment an elite P.C. corps of jackbooted bull-dyke feminazis is going to kick down their doors and confiscate their penises I mean guns!, their guns, and shut down forever that last bastion of free speech in America, their blogs. One poster noted that all the AK-47s and ammo had disappeared from his local gun shop in the last week.

To quote Penny Robinson: “Dr. Smith, when will you stop acting so silly?” What exactly are these delusional cowards imagining is going to happen? Where are the fascist armies, where the invading Mohammedan horde, the mobs of ravaging negroes, the Yippie fifth column, that they’re girding themselves to hold off? I picture them, as in panel 4, still hunkered down eight years from now, their ammo and canned goods grown dusty and cobwebbed, barricaded against the twin menaces of free health care and renewable energy. In other words, there’s this nice hot loaf of banana bread waiting for them-- maybe with walnuts or chocolate chips, even--but no, they won’t be fooled by that old ruse, they’re fine with just jerky.

What they remind me of, really, is nothing so much as the dwarves in the stable in The Last Battle, the final book in Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. (I am aware that this is my second Narnia allusion in as many weeks—what that’s about is anybody’s guess, unless it’s just that I have to reach all the way back to children’s fantasy literature to find any analogy appropriate to our new reality.) The Dwarves (Lewis's allegories for intellectual skeptics) are sitting in a sunlit meadow, and Aslan places a great feast before them, but they still believe they’re huddled in a dark stable, and think they’ve managed to scrounge up an old half-eaten turnip. Aslan explains, “You see, they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is in their minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”

When I went to vote back in my Undisclosed Location in rural Maryland, the local Democrats had a little card table set up outside the polling place with some pamphlets and a box of donuts on it. I was asking the ladies at the table about some of the local candidates when a young man walked up and asked, kind of sheepishly, whether the donuts were for anyone who was voting.

“You could have one,” they said.

“'Cause I ain’t votin’ for no black dude, I’ll tell you that,” he said, relieved and cheerful.

“ You can’t have one,” they told him.

I reacted only with my usual repressed shudder of loathing and the usual inward cringe of shame about not opening my mouth in token right-minded protest. For some reason, ignorant bigots are never content to be quietly ignorant and bigoted; they’re proud of it, and they want you to know about it, like people who proselytize for Jesus or sell Amway. Meanwhile,we tend to keep our own decent and civilized sentiments about equality closeted for fear of getting called eggheads or faggots or (I actually heard this once) “edjumacated idjiots.” (Funny that everyone in this country professes to value education, but despise the educated.)

My own solution to this quandary was to move to New York City, far, far away from anyplace that kind of trailer trash could ever afford or begin to fathom. It is some consolation that those losers are suddenly feeling confused and frightened and angry, like this isn't their country any more—which, in fact, it isn't. Like MLK said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Eventually--not soon enough, but someday--all those people are going to die off and nobody will even understand why electing a black president was a big deal or why gay marriage was ever an issue at all.

I’ve lately been remembering a story about a group of black demonstrators who gathered outside Cape Kennedy during the moon landing, indignant that the government was spending so many billions on this useless project when so many people were hungry, homeless, without jobs or medical care. The protesters were not, as would probably happen today, corralled into paddy wagons and detained without charges until the mission was over. Instead, NASA officials went to meet them, and invited them in to watch the landing with them. This isn’t just for white America, they told them. It’s for all of us. We came in peace for all mankind. Please--come in. Join us.

This makes for an awkward addendum to my donut anecdote, but after I’d voted, I asked the women at the Democratic table whether they’d really withheld the donut.

“ Nah,” they admitted. “We gave him one.” I later learned that in fact it would’ve been illegal not to hand out gifts equitably. Still, I was disappointed.

“ Aw,” I said. “No donuts for racists!”

And yet, watching Obama’s luminous acceptance speech, hearing him say to all those who had bitterly fought his election what I could never have imagined Bush saying to me and my friends—“I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too”--I was almost glad that that little dirtbag had gotten his donut after all. Yes, I thought, magnanimous in victory: donuts for all. Seeing our first black president, that science-fiction trope for The Future, become a reality, I felt the way people must have felt the night men first walked on the moon.


Note: to readers who are curious as to why I have included color in a cartoon for the first time ever merely to indicate the color of Boyd’s and my fancy cocktails, I will give the same answer my friend Michael once gave to a harried cocktail waitress who asked of his drink order, “Why must it be blue?”: “Because it must.”


Our donation button directly below.



BACK TO The Pain Homepage