Professor and cartoonist Mr Fish accused of anti-Semitism


Anti-Semitism has always been the catch-all for any criticism of the state of Israel and its endless torture of its Palestinian neighbours.

Everything is anti-Semitism

Now, with genocide under way, there is absolutely nothing that can be said, written or drawn about Israel's months of ethnic cleansing in Palestine that is not labelled anti-Semitic

If the Star of David appears in a cartoon, even if it is not the central element or directly related to the message, even if it occupies the central part of the Israeli flag, its author will be accused of anti-Semitism for using a religious symbol.

If a cartoon depicts a piece of meat, even if Israel is making mincemeat of the Palestinian civilian population, the cartoonist will be branded an anti-Semite because that too will be interpreted as another anti-Semitic trope, the pound of flesh.

If blood in any form appears in a cartoon, even if Israel is turning Palestine into a vast sea of blood, the cartoonist will also be accused of being anti-Semitic for resorting to what is known as the blood libel, a trope of anti-Semitic propaganda that accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children to bake matzah and other rituals.

Needless to say, beware of the shape of noses or any allusion, however subliminal or ambiguous, to money, which will also provoke accusations of anti-Semitism.

The Harvard incident

The educational world was already in turmoil over a similar brouhaha in late February, also involving illustrations.

Harvard University became embroiled in a controversy over anti-Semitism on campus after student groups and a group of professors shared a cartoon that some considered anti-Semitic.

The cartoon in question shows a hand, with a Star of David and a dollar sign in the centre, holding two ropes tied around the necks of an Arab and a black man. These people are supposed to be former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and boxer and anti-war activist Muhammad Ali.

In a statement, Harvard's interim president, Alan M. Garber, condemned the cartoon, calling it"blatantly anti-Semitic" after it was shared on social media by two student groups - the Harvard University Palestine Solidarity Committee and the African American Resistance Organization - and republished by Harvard faculty and staff for Justice in Palestine.

Mr. Fish

Now it is the turn of Dwayne Booth, a professor of communication at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who is also a cartoonist, publishes his political cartoons under the pseudonym Mr. Fish and teaches courses on political cartooning at the school.

One of his courses, entitled"WARNING Graphic Content: Political Cartoons, Comics, and the Uncensored Artist", is described as follows:

"This course examines the past, present and future of political cartooning, underground comics, graphic journalism and protest art, exploring the purpose and importance of image-based communication as an unparalleled propagator of ideas both noble and nefarious. The works submitted will be chosen for their unique ability to demonstrate the incendiary effect of weaponised visual jokes, uncensored commentary and critical thinking in a society so often perplexed by free artistic expression and radicalised creative candour."

In different notes it is pointed out that it is not known whether the students study Booth's work in this class, something that I find absolutely irrelevant because in an activity related to free artistic expression it would be bleeding if there was a blacklist.

Some point, others shoot

The ball started rolling with The Washington Free Beacon, which published a story titled"Pennsylvania professor behind grotesque anti-Semitic cartoons" and which some media outlets took it upon themselves to elevate to news status.

The Free Beacon, with ties to the neo-conservative sector of the Republican party, is dedicated to trying to sneak its news onto the agenda of the mainstream media. In other words, they point and the like-minded media shoot.

It was founded by Michael Goldfarb, Aaron Harrison and Matthew Continetti. It was launched on 7 February 2012 as a project of the Center for American Freedom, a conservative advocacy group inspired by the liberal Center for American Progress. The site is financially supported by Paul Singer, a billionaire US hedge fund manager and Republican donor.

The University of Pennsylvania's response

University of Pennsylvania interim president Larry Jameson criticised Mr Fish's cartoons in a statement posted on the university's social media, saying the cartoons do not reflect his views or those of the university, describing them as"objectionable, anti-Semitic symbols and inconsistent with our efforts to fight hate".

So far, unlike in most cases, the issue has not escalated too far and has not yet become a major issue, although some have already suggested that the professor-draughtsman should be fired. As long as the controversy remains a legitimate and healthy exchange of views between the parties, all will be well.

In an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian, Booth defended his cartoons in the face of the tumultuous reaction from members of the Jewish community, adding that he has received no communication from the university suggesting that his job is in jeopardy because of the cartoons.

AAUP-Penn rejects any "punishment"

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP-Penn) believes the university should not punish Booth for his illustrations and condemns the targeted harassment he is being subjected to through a statement in which it appeals to the AAUP's 1940 Statement of Principles, which contains strong protections for extramural expression:

"When speaking or writing as an individual, the teacher must be free from censorship or institutional discipline."

Since that free speech thing bothers some people so much, there's no better exercise than to leave a few vignettes here from the author they'd like to silence for exercising it. You can continue to see the rest of his work on his website or his Instagram account.

Some vignettes by Mr. Fish

Mr. Fish has often, and for a long time, addressed the issue of the indiscriminate use of accusations of anti-Semitism to try to silence any critical voice.

Here is a page on the subject, published a decade ago (July 2014). Translation at the bottom.

Professor and cartoonist Mr Fish accused of anti-Semitism

Bullet point 1: What is the difference between a Jew and a canoe? A canoe gives tips.

(Popular joke that plays on absurdity to exploit the stereotype that Jews are greedy).

Cartoon 2: Isn't that the fucking truth, dude?

Cartoon 4: I've been thinking recently about the shit the Palestinians have to deal with in Gaza.

Bullet point 6: Man, if you think I'm going to sit here and listen to that kind of anti-Semitism...

About the author

This is the cartoonist 's description of himself:

"I'm a political cartoonist, cultural contrarian and creator of dick jokes, social satire and gun commentary.

I am a pornographer of naked truth and a high-minded moralist for the hard of heart. My work has appeared in Harper's magazine, The LA Times, The Nation, Vanity Fair, The Village Voice, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, The Advocate and Truthdig, among others.

My books include Nobody Gone, Long Story Abridged, And Then the World Blew Up, Go Fish: How to Earn Scorn and Influence People, and WARNING! Graphic Content, among others.

I have received awards such as the Grambs Aronson Award for Cartooning with a Conscience, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Editorial Cartooning from the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Southern California Journalism Award/L.A. Press Club, among others. I'm pretty well known, like syphilis, and, like syphilis, your mother will slap you in the face if you ever admit that you know who I am and what I do.

Professor and cartoonist Mr Fish accused of anti-Semitism

Humour in trouble, a collection of cases (III)
Cases of cartoonists who have had problems of some importance because of their cartoons or satirical illustrations. There are also some stories of other people who, without being cartoonists, have got into trouble for sharing them.

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