The power of cartoons

A picture is worth a thousand words” 

-a saying


“First they came for the cartoonists but i was not a cartoonist..”

-A paraphrase

A cartoon: what is it that makes them so powerful ? 

Here in Switzerland a poster of the extreme right party SVP has appeared in  central train stations all over in German, French and i guess Italian too, translated  the regional languages making a very simple fascist racist statement by the image of a white sheep  symbolising the white  native swiss kicking out a black sheep symbolizing the black foreign sheep and i can only imagine the horror a dark skinned person living in switzerland seeing the clear color statement; white is strong and black should be kicked out when necessary. Two words appear ” achieving SAFETY” , the verb for achieving safety  sounds much like the word sheep in Swiss German . ..and the message is very clear ; if you are a foreigner and are a threat to switzerland you will be kicked out and  one can only wonder when the sheep will be led to slaughter..or as the swiss tradition from WW2 “PAID to slaughter” , since  the swiss  government had made a profit of dealing with the Nazi war machines while remaining so called “neutral” and uninvited and the only country in Europe to have actually improve its economy not to mention the secret bank accounts of holocaust victims the swiss banks ” forgot ” to report. ..but that is certainly  not a laughing matter.

The German media in the 1930’s had published images of jews as demons, rats, parasites, subhuman demons long before “the final solution” , the Nazi plan to murder the Jewish population in Europe had been carried out by the Germans and their collaborators ; not monsters but regular folks just like the ones who vote for Donald Trump and other right wing extremist parties who focus hate against minority groups and scapegoat entire populations in attempt  to distract from constructive responsible solutions not involving violence, hate towards other people or building fences.  

Adolf Hitler too promised  economic solutions to the struggling German economy, he promised jobs and he hated the other.

The message sent in simple lines and a storyline, a few words and the message and ideas are delivered in a clear way, sums up thousands of words and arguments in one drawing .St-Louis-Statue-of-Liberty.jpgimages-61.jpegmonster jew.jpg


This year the national cartoon day happened to fall on the same day is the holocaust memorial day and a new book called “Cartoonists against the holocaust” edited by Dr. Rafael Medoff , founding director of the David S. Wyman institute for holocaust studies, has written comic strips related to the holocaust and published numerous books about jewish history and the holocaust . 

Apparently in 1940 cartoonists in the US had tried to warn against the holocaust through cartoons, one well known cartoonist and writer is Dr. Seuss, Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel, who had warned as early as 1933 about Hitler and the Nazis in Europe. 

There is a common misconception that the US was unaware of what was happening in Europe as an explanation to why the concentration camps had not been bombed and destroyed, and why US did so little to help the Jewish refugees at the time. 

Cartoonists are often the first ones to voice a cry for action but there is also a dark side to this art which had been used by the Nazi propaganda and has led to the Iranian regime announcing a holocaust cartoon  competition aimed towards a different goal; to mock the jews and celebrate their torture , murder and their ultimate destruction. 

And i do not need to elaborate much about the radical Islam’s reaction to the cartoons about the prophet that had led to violence and the attack in Paris of the cartoon artists, before continuing to include jews and then everyone in Paris regardless of ethnic background. 

Cartoons about Israeli soldiers grinding Palestinian children in meat grinders appear in the Palestinian media and the jews are often depicted as the stereotype the Nazis had portrayed them in the campaign to dehumanise them and make them a legitimate target of violence since they are not human beings like the ideal picture perfect Arayans. 

Racism as accepted through demonic images of “the other” are typically used by fascist regimes and anything contrary to the accepted policy of the regime will not only not appear in the publication controlled by the government by not allowing free speech but the propoganda will enlist cartoonists for the job of manipulating the minds of the masses towards acting in violence towards “the other”.

If one wishes to learn about the political climate of a culture one needs only to study its cartoons and the messages depicted thus saving thousands of words .

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a very talented  young and courageous cartoonist who had escaped Iraq a few years ago  and is able to express his emotions, impressions censured by the authorities freely now that he is in exile in the west.

Cartoons are not only tools of propaganda as this new book reveals , cartoons can also be an important alarm sound warning of a planned massacre , war and fascism of a regime. 


Images send a strong message to the mind that then can decide how to see a particular ethnic group which is why images of a jew vampire drinking the blood of Palestinian children evoke in Jews who are educated in the history of the hate towards Jews that these images come from the archives of the middle ages where jews were depicted as subhuman parasite rats , and with this one can not avoid mentioning Art Spiegelman’s famous cartoons depicting the family history of his father as a survivor of the holocaust as a rat amongst other jews drawn as rats. 

I have sidetracked from the main  topic  of  this important book  that exposes an important chapter of American history when  cartoon artists had attempted to bring the awareness of the threat of the Nazis in Germany and Europe to the American public through the cartoons published in the daily newspapers but as we know, help came too late for most of the victims of the Nazis regime, let us learn those lessons and not repeat them. 


About seagullsea

a seagull flying over the great ocean of life observing.
This entry was posted in cartoons lessons, European life, intercultural relations, Israel, jewish survival, racism as a reality, racism in USA, the American presidential elections, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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