Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The View From Abroad

Do you ever wonder what the rest of the world thinks about the USA?

Political cartoons can be a powerful insight into the answers to that question. Of course, it's axiomatic that humor is the most difficult thing to translate, but political cartoons are often blunt enough to need no translation.

Consider the following offerings from Al Ahram Weekly, an Egyptian publication that has been in continuous operation since 1875.

Here we have a selection of 5 cartoons, arranged vertically. Be patient, please, their server can be slow.

The top cartoon shows Osama bin Laden waiting in line to cast his vote in the US midterm elections. I really don't know what the artist is saying here, perhaps that Osama is us? Or perhaps he's ridiculing our seeming inability to catch him?

The second is Egyptian domestic politics; it's saying that the upcoming election is totally rigged.

The third one down gets interesting. That is a send-up of the flag some of the tea partiers like to use, but with the snake removed and a Klansman's hood in its place.

The 4th cartoon is again obscure. The obvious meaning is clear, but who knows about context?

The 5th cartoon, at the bottom , is the best. This is how the Middle East sees the new Republican-dominated House of Representatives. Lift the lid on Congress, and you have a crowd of grinning Ku Klux Klansmen with their pointy white hoods on. Ouch. So much for convincing the world that US Conservatives aren't really racists.

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