Thursday, October 23, 2003

Selective Outrage

I originally posted this on September 6.

Unbelievable Stereotype

I just received my October issue of The Atlantic Monthly. I love the magazine but the cartoon by Barry Blitt brought me up short.

It is called "Proposed Designs for the New Iraqi Dinar." The first three poke fun at our failed attempts to locate and kill Saddam, the looting of antiquities, and Geraldo's map drawing stunt. That's all fair criticism. But the fourth is a serious problem.

It is captioned "Thank you, Poland, proud member of the Coalition of the Willing." The drawing shows a bunch of soldiers staring quizzically at a light bulb. Obviously, the "artist" is trafficking in the dumb Polack stereotype.

Apparently, the cartoonist believes that joining the Coalition of the Willing makes a nation and its citizens fair game for cruel ethnic humor. Imagine, if you will, National Review showing Chirac bribing Kofi Anon with watermelons. The outrage would be deafening. (Rightly so.)

Others agreed with me but nearly every bit of the blogosphere and the traditional media never made a peep. That's understandable-- the Atlantic only has a circulation of 500,000, so most people never saw the cartoon. And Instapundit gets thousands of emails. Not his fault that he didn't notice mine but did Simon's and Yourish's.

But it is some sort of problem when Easterbrook becomes the target of Insta-amplified outrage, but Blitt and Cho get a free pass.

Bottom line, the blogosphere is not now a debating society or a conversation in a salon; it is a mob in cyberspace. Expecting it to behave rationally or consistently is asking too much. But to ignore the mob-like attributes when posting is irresponsible.

No comments: