Originally published on the March 4, 2009 entry of the website Everyday Citizen
One of the things I look forward to at the beginning of each month is to receive in the mail the latest issues of the Catholic Worker and Z Magazine. When I read both periodicals, I get information on activists and read about information in the grassroots that I don’t find in any other periodicals. Though I don’t always agree with every opinion that I read, I’ve learned a lot about different perspectives on the effects of globalization on the poor and marginalized in this world. Especially nowadays, as our country and the world struggles through hard economic times, it is easy to turn inwards to our national problems and forget the problems in the rest of the world. In my cartoon, I based some of the dialogue of the Facebook friends on articles that I’ve read in the latest issues of the Catholic Worker and Z Magazine.
The cartoon character Jasper is based on my own cat named Jasper. He’s a bit of a fat cat, around 18 pounds or so, and he’s a really nice if lazy cat. He’s spends most of the time sitting near the window, soaking up the sun. In the mornings, he scratches the door to get me to wake up to feed him food. So we’ve put Jasper and the other cat, Gracie, in the other room with food and water and closed the door so he can’t wake me up. Everyone in the apartment complex seems to know him well. The other cats sometimes hiss at Jasper, but Jasper just stares and doesn’t really take the other cats seriously. Since he’s about twice as big as those other cats, I don’t think he feels threatened.
In the January-February edition of the Catholic Worker, Felton Davis wrote an article about the harassment that immigrants, and especially Latinos, have been facing recently in this country. On December 7, 2008, Jose Sucuzhanay, an immigrant from Ecuador, and his brother Romel were beaten by 4 young men with baseball bats in the Bushwich section of Brooklyn. Community activists, elected officials, and member of GLOBE (Gays and Lesbians of Bushwick Empowered) held a rally to protest the killings of the Sucuzhanay brothers, as well as the killings of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez in July and Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero on November 8.
The December 2008 edition of the Catholic Worker has an article by Cathy Breen about the situation of Iraqi refugees who have fled to Syria. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Syria has over 1.2 million Iraqi residents with valid valid visas. Approximately 220,000 Iraqi refugees have been registered by the UN High Commission for Refugees. Breen found many Iraqis living in destitution, struggling to come up with the money to meet the rent and pay for food, as well as pay for the Syrian visas. Finding work to earn a livelihood is among the greatest challenges that many refugees face.
James Petras wrote in the March 2009 issue of Z Magazine of the practice of many agricultural companies in the industrial countries to buy vast tracts of fertile lands from poor countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America with the help of often corrupt local governments. The result of this is that the numbers of landless peasants are growing, as small farmers are being forcibly displaced as they face debt and a lack of affordable credit. Those of the poor that try to gain some cultivable land are often harassed and jailed for their efforts. Petras notes that Arab petroleum companies have focused on purchasing land in Southeast Asia; the Asian “economic tiger” countries focused on Africa and Latin America; while the U.S. and European companies focus on exploiting the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, as well as Latin America and Africa.
This type of information that I’ve found in the Catholic Worker and Z Magazine is unavailable in most of the other magazines. Both periodicals focus on the work of grassroots activists, and they give a different viewpoint from the more well known political writers and politicians that one finds in Time magazine and Newsweek. Though I don’t always agree with some of the political views of the two magazines, I respect their views and it helps to expand my view on various issues. If we look at the past, there has always been a fruitful influence between the more radical and the more moderate segments of the political Left. Many of the programs of the New Deal, like Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act were influenced by the ideas of Norman Thomas and the Socialist Party of the 1920s. The reforms of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the 1900s and 1910s were influenced by the Populists, by progressives like Eugene Debs and Emma Goldman, and by the muckracking newspapers. The radicals are the first to see the problems of the country because of their view from the grassroots and come up with the radical ideas for change. The liberals take those ideas and water them down so that they are palatable to the mainstream American society. Jules Feiffer, the radical cartoonist who worked for many years in the Village Voice, said:
“I’ve always seen liberals as people who’ve taken radical ideas, whether from socialists or communists, finding ways to redefining them, relabeling them, reforming them, compromising them, and then improving the society with them. And the liberal’s job generally has been to process and homogenize the more radical notions out there for some time and make them acceptable to the mass society. And to that extent, liberals have played an important part. That liberals innovate anything is questionable. But that they innovate anything worth innovating is doubtful. The innovation comes from more radical sources generally.”
If you enjoy this cartoon, take a look at these links for more of my political cartoons at Everyday Citizen:
Jasper Tackles Health Care
Jasper Protests the War
Jasper and the Economy
Jasper Sings a Protest Song
Jasper Meets a Poet
Jasper At A Detention Center
A Cartoon about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
A Cartoon about My Experience in an Evangelical Church
A Cartoon about Political Debate
A Cartoon On Gay Marriage