Anti-Semitism on the comics pages.
April 12, 2001 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Anti-Semitism on the comics pages. Is it just me, or is this way over the line?
posted by darukaru (43 comments total)
I don't get it.
posted by SpecialK at 9:30 PM on April 12, 2001

can someone explain why this is hurtful?

(i honestly don't understand.)
posted by o2b at 9:35 PM on April 12, 2001

Looks like it's showing the evolution of Judaism into Christianity, if you ask me. Which happened, in a way. I think it's more offensive that our kids have to look at that proselytizing bullcrap.
posted by Doug at 9:37 PM on April 12, 2001

It's not just you, but I'm not at all surprised. B.C. is the most offensive -- actually the only offensive -- comic in the dailies.
posted by sudama at 9:41 PM on April 12, 2001

I'm Jewish, and to the extent I get it, it's not offensive. Christians, by definition, believe Judaism isn't enough. What's supposed to be offensive, the menorah morphing into a cross? That's not enjoyable, but it's not anti-Jewish.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:46 PM on April 12, 2001

Johnny Hart is a perpetual comics-page troll. He does this at every christian holiday to try and rile up us non-believers. o2b, to answer your question, this could be construed as a rehash of the slanderous "jews killed jesus" concept. Seems iffy, but still credible.

What amazes me is that Johnny Hart thinks that his God cares what's drawn in the funny pages. And if his God does care, perhaps He can explain who the hell reads the "serious" story-driven serial comics. Because that Mary Worth shit is lost on me...
posted by anildash at 9:48 PM on April 12, 2001

Johnny Hart has pulled this before.
posted by owillis at 9:50 PM on April 12, 2001

Silly anildash, God only reads comics like this or this.
posted by owillis at 10:11 PM on April 12, 2001

The JDL (Jewish Defense League) is a very far right-wing, very militant group that should in no way be misconstrued for the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), who are generally in the forefront in speaking up about significant anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry. The ADL's statement on the comic has a somewhat better explanation - though in my opinion there's a lot more significant issues and challenges facing us as Jews...
posted by judith at 10:21 PM on April 12, 2001

anil and owillis covered the territory I'd hoped to. No, I don't see that this is directly offensive, but it's awfully close to the line. A little like evangelicals leafletting outside synagogues: sure, it's legal, but it's really, really rude.

And yes, I think Hart is trolling. I was surprised to learn (from the TIME article) this only began in 1989 or so: I thought I remembered him addressing these issues much earlier than that, perhaps just not quite so directly.

Should the strips be pulled? I don't think so. But papers found with, say, Doonesbury, that running it on the opinion page on an ad hoc basis was an expedient solution.
posted by dhartung at 10:22 PM on April 12, 2001

Pretty crap cartoon. Offensive and unfunny.

Then again, I find all religions offensive.
posted by lagado at 10:42 PM on April 12, 2001

I question whether this is actually Hart's work. The typeset used is not his regular, and the first two panels are not aesthetically well balanced in the least... you would think that after numerous years in the comics biz the guy would know what 'looks right'. Subject matter aside, it's still an ugly, ugly strip.
posted by Dane at 10:48 PM on April 12, 2001

While the JDL is indeed more militant than the ADL, both organizations exist to root out anti-Semitism, which means both organizations are going to make sure they find lots of it, and issue proclamations about it as if they were the sole arbiters of what constitutes anti-Semitic statements in this world. After all, if they stopped finding as many , they'd have less reason to exist, less to show potential donors. And they're not ever going to let that happen.

I hadn't kept track since I didn't think this was going to end up on MeFi, but in the last couple of days I've come across three separate articles about this strip, and all three show that, at worst, Hart was totally clueless that the way he drew that strip could result in multiple interpretations of what he was trying to say, several of them negative against Jews. As drawn, it's only supposed to say one religion ended up giving birth to the other, just as Passover ended up leading right into Easter this year.

And the articles contained interviews with few Jews that thought this was any big deal, save for those working for the witchhunt activist groups.
posted by aaron at 10:49 PM on April 12, 2001

I don't necessarily find all religions offensive, but a lot of the practicioners seem to be.

(Us agnostics will sit on the sidelines and let "whoever" sort out the rest :)
posted by owillis at 10:50 PM on April 12, 2001

Dammit, I was going to post this after I saw on Norm's page, but then I saw he found
it at the Obscure Store, and I was afraid Palegirl would yell at me. Now darukaru is
getting all the glory.

The strip is obviously looking to stir the pot. I was not offended, but I don't get
offended all that easy. My first thought was to wonder if it is appropriate to publish
copyrighted material *before* it actually gets printed. I think the JDL's assertion
that they are not advocating censorship is some very nice tap dancing.

Was B.C ever funny?
posted by thirteen at 10:57 PM on April 12, 2001

owillis, does that fact that I read Calvin & Hobbes and Boondocks mean that I'm God? I'm confused.
posted by anildash at 11:06 PM on April 12, 2001

anildash: I would answer, but because of my beliefs - I have to wait until I'm dead
posted by owillis at 11:09 PM on April 12, 2001

It's not really offensive, just irritating. I'd feel the same way were a Jewish artist to write a heavy handed strip for Yom Kippur (forgive me if I spelled that incorrectly).

What's troubling is that the strip (like all religious grandstanding) implies a certain intolerance. Taking a stand against this thinly veiled hatred (call it what you will, that's pretty much what it is) causes religious groups to claim "anti-christian" discrimination.

We are, as they say, damned if we do, and damned if we don't. According to this guy, however, I guess we're pretty much damned all around.
posted by aladfar at 11:31 PM on April 12, 2001

really, it looks to me more like a heavy-handed and very inelegant attempt at symbolism than anything else. jesus said "it is finished. father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" right before he died.

his mission was finished at that point. given that belief, and the idea that the central purpose of judiasm was to bring forth the messiah, then this looks to me more like an attempt to convey that message than anything else.

in any case, I think it's intent was not to offend anyone *and* I think it's very coarsely done.

posted by rebeccablood at 11:37 PM on April 12, 2001

Of course, some of us find it hilarious that a comic strip called "BC" indulges in heavy-handed Christian proselytizing in the first place.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:46 AM on April 13, 2001

"Bob" loves you. The JDL and the ADL should be more careful how they pick their battles. Christianity has been, is, and always will be a fanatical offshoot from Judaism. Christians do symbolically substitute the menorah for the cross. So Hart's right. However, his visual depiction of that occurrence should not offend modern followers of Judaism. Whether Hart intended to be offensive or not, the strip shows that Judaism was the foundation - the rock - upon which Christianity was forged.

JC was a long-haired, idealistic rebel going around saying how people won't have to sacrifice sheep and goats to God anymore. That there was a new covenant. The Pharisees and Sagisees told JC He was full of crap. What faith were the Pharisees and Sagisees? Jewish, of course. Then He got hung up on a tree "for saying how nice it would be to be nice to one another for a change." Granted, historically it was Pontius Pilate's decision, but he gave the crowd a choice between JC and Barabbas. What faith were most of the people in the crowd? Jewish. That is of course, if you happen to acknowledge the Bible as an historically accurate document. YMMV.

What I mean to say is, true Jews have shown throughout history that they couldn't care less what a Christian says. Why start paying attention now? If enough people don't read it, the newspaper will stop carrying it. This is why there aren't many comic strips written by members of the KKK, Nazis, or Dallas Cowboys fans. B.C. would be able to get away with this more readily if it did what a Sunday Comic strip is supposed to do. Personally I'm offended that B.C., Peanuts, Nancy, Andy Capp, and Wizard of Id have continued being published over two decades after they stopped being funny.

Whining and complaining like these defamation leagues are doing is only giving Hart free publicity. The Christians learned this the hard way when The Last Temptation of Christ came out.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:47 AM on April 13, 2001

All Hart did was refer to the basic Christian belief that Jesus is the messiah and people go berserk. What a shallow, insipid world we live in.
posted by Falconen at 3:59 AM on April 13, 2001

Yea. We did it to Him. And if He comes back, we will do it again (Lenny Bruce).
posted by Postroad at 4:11 AM on April 13, 2001

Thirteen, Hart has been very funny quite consistently, especially in the early years. But after doing a daily strip for 40 years perhaps the well-spring of creativity runs a bit low sometimes.

He's also been inspirational to this particular atheist.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:37 AM on April 13, 2001

What a shallow, insipid world we live in.

Yes, with shallow, insipid belief systems to go with it.
Whoops there i done it, I done crossed the darn line...
posted by lagado at 4:49 AM on April 13, 2001

When one looks at Christianity from a Judaistic perspective, JC's sentiments are about as profane and heretical as one can get, so Lenny Bruce's quip (above) was more than funny - it's prophetic. ..Come to think of it, I'm surprised there aren't more headbutts between Jesus Freaks and Non-Jesus Freaks. =) Sometimes I think it'd be nice if the true fanatics of all creeds would just all go off into a corner of the world and kill one another outright so the rest of us could truly live in peace.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:50 AM on April 13, 2001

"true Jews have shown throughout history that they couldn't care less what a Christian says"

posted by Outlawyr at 4:57 AM on April 13, 2001

Falconen: All Hart did was refer to the basic Christian belief that Jesus is the messiah and people go berserk. What a shallow, insipid world we live in.

While I won't argue that we live in a shallow, insipid world, try this: Publish a cartoon that implies that Jesus is not the Son of God, and see what happens.

BTW, I've been hating Johnny Hart for years, but I still find myself reading it every Sunday...Kinda like craning your neck to see a small-minded, really unfunny, poorly drawn car crash.
posted by jpoulos at 6:50 AM on April 13, 2001

I think the quote Outlawyr is questioning can best be rephrased as saying that Jews have continued to be Jews despite what others have thought.

I don't think the cartoon was meant to be offensive, but it's certainly not funny. His connection between the menorah, Jesus' death, and the cross seems rather juvenile to me. The comics that I generally hold in regard (Boondocks, Calvin) operate at a more adult level of thought.
posted by gnutron at 7:01 AM on April 13, 2001

Hey, give Hart a break. Everyone can't be as delicate and entertaining as this.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:11 AM on April 13, 2001

Hart must be reeling furiously to get all these fish he's hooked into his boat. Come on. To publish this on Easter (oh, the subtlety!) is trolling of the rankest sort, and boy, are they biting.
posted by Skot at 8:22 AM on April 13, 2001

I wonder if NOW has ever complained that two of the main characters in BC are named "The Cute Chick" and "The Fat Broad?"
posted by bondcliff at 8:29 AM on April 13, 2001

That's nothing compared to "Alcoholism, Infidelity and Spousal Abuse Funnies."
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:40 AM on April 13, 2001

Hart, as has been said before, is a Christian, and he usually celebrates his "holy days" with a special strip. If people are interested in his meaning, they'll look into it deeper, and he'll have done his Christian duty to spread the word.

I don't find the comic offensive, but for Jews that are sick of hearing "you killed Jesus," I could understand why it would be. But it really does explain the basic reason Christians are not Jews, even though they believe in the same God. Like the JDL says, he has a right to draw it, and any newspaper that chooses has the right to print it or not, as they see fit.

Are you the Judean People's Front?
Fuck off!
Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.

Now, that's offensive and funny (From: The Life of Brian)
posted by OneBallJay at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2001

I can hardly believe we got this far into a comics and religion discussion with no mention of the infamous and scary Jack Chick comics.
posted by quirked at 9:27 AM on April 13, 2001

Y'all apparently weren't listening to Dane.

That's not Hart's lettering

"Let's make up a screed-strip.. attribute it to... oh, hell, say that guy who does B.C.; what's his name?"

"Johnny Hart."

"Yeah, him. And then we'll rouse a bunch of rabble, and tell them to make a big fuss about keeping it from running, and then, when it doesn't run..."

"Yeah! We'll take the credit!"

This is astroturf bait, people. I'll bet anyone on here lunch the next time they're in Tampa that this strip doesn't run on Sunday. (Void where prohibited; restrictions may apply; may suffocate children if played with; all models over 18.)
posted by baylink at 9:30 AM on April 13, 2001

All I can say is that the JDL should get a better scanner.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:31 AM on April 13, 2001

Baylink, no, that's not his lettering, because he's quoting from the Bible. See, it's fancy! And to my eye, it the first panel, "The Seven Last 'Words' of Jesus" does look like his lettering. I'll take your bet, which you'll never have to pay off, as I live in penury (not to mention Seattle).

Here's a bio page of Hart--with another religious cartoon that sort of escapes me. (Not to mention an alarming, Soupy-Sales-like photo.)
posted by Skot at 9:47 AM on April 13, 2001

Actually, today's BC strip already started the theme, and it featured the unusual lettering. so it looks likely that Skot'll win that bet. There were no symbols that could be construed as Jewish in today's strip, btw. It wasn't funny, but then it wasn't meant to be. Unlike his usual strips which are unintentionally not humorous.
posted by anapestic at 10:12 AM on April 13, 2001

Outlawyr, I meant "True Jews" as opposed to The Other Kind. Those who remain true to the Jewish faith, i.e. "True Jews," are still awaiting the first coming, while Christians have claimed for two millenia that this has already transpired. The phrase "True Jews" was not intended to be misconstrued as offensive, insulting, or demeaning, and I apologize if such indications came across.

I still say all religious zealots should drop their present banner and look to "Bob." After that minor setback we had back in 1998, SubGenii could use a few more religious zealots.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:29 AM on April 13, 2001

Well, Anapestic, it was that *Avant Garde Medium* in the first panel that threw *me*...

It just looked photoshopped.
posted by baylink at 11:34 AM on April 13, 2001

We already know how God feels about comics.
posted by rodii at 9:15 AM on April 14, 2001

lol! For more humorous sacrilege, check out Dean Paxton's 4/13 post. For some reason it just killed me. For more fun, read the discussion and try to figure out what "clavdivs" has been smoking.
posted by gimli at 4:49 PM on April 14, 2001

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