The Sorensen Monologues

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Archive for 2020

Death Worship

I keep encountering this specious argument that “religious freedom” is under attack because in-person services are being restricted while other businesses deemed essential remain open. A more accurate comparison would be indoor concerts, which have been largely shut down. Contrary to Justice Samuel Alito’s claim of victimhood in a recent Federalist Society speech in which he stated “religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right,” literally no one is trying to stop people from worshipping. It is simply a fact that in-person services have been a vector for spreading COVID not just in the US, but around the world, and that safer alternatives to congregating indoors exist. Moreover, this is not simply a matter of individual beliefs, but the lives of those outside one’s church. As Justice Sotomayor put it, the Court is playing “a deadly game” that “will only exacerbate the Nation’s suffering.”

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Disappearing Detroit

While I was doing an image search for lunch counter protests of the Civil Rights Era, I came across this remarkable photo on NPR.org of activist Dion Diamond being confronted by the leader of the American Nazi Party. The year was 1960. When you look at these photos from the not-so-distant past, invariably filled with sneering, cocky white boys tormenting Black people, you can also see the present. 

This got me thinking about contemporary notions of the “real American voter” — a white male Trump supporter in an Ohio diner. How is it that a mere handful of decades after these historic lunch counter protests, our go-to image of an “authentic American” is a white guy in a diner? 


Relax, Everything’s Coup


How to Reach Out to Trump Voters 2020

While Kamala Harris gave a great victory speech, I was not as impressed with Biden’s, which seemed fairly boilerplate and full of bromides about working together with Republicans. While I understand the need to lower the nation’s temperature, at a certain point you can’t wish fascism away with fluffy talk. He’s also setting himself up for disaster in the event that he ever needs to take bold measures to undo Trump’s damage — assuming the GOP’s attempted coup fails (and that’s not hyperbole!). 

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The Right Side of History

A serious comic for a serious day in American history. I have been thinking lately about all the sacrifices made by my grandparents and others to stop the Third Reich from taking over the world, and feeling disgusted that all that effort could be undone just one lifetime later. I am obviously not saying that the US was perfect (see George Takei’s excellent graphic novel “They Called Us Enemy” about Japanese internment), or that racism didn’t exist in the North during the Civil War, or that the US didn’t do some questionable things in the Philippines, or that it has always stood up for democracy. Unfortunately, I can’t address all of US history in a four-panel cartoon. I’m just saying it was a good thing that we stopped the Confederacy and the Holocaust, and that we are tragically faced with the same demons from those eras again.


GOP Power Ploys

Well, there goes the Supreme Court. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had and cartoons I’ve drawn warning about this moment, only to feel like people just didn’t care. With Barrett on the court, we’ve entered new, uncharted territory. Basic legal assumptions are about to be eviscerated, and no one will be safe.

On a related note, this Guardian article points out that the contemporary Republican party now resembles authoritarian governments of Turkey and Hungary. 

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Endgame

As you may have heard, the Court was split 4-4 yesterday in a ruling that allowed Pennsylvania to count ballots that arrive up to three days after election day, as the state Supreme Court had ruled. This was, apparently, a Constitutional no-brainer that should have been 8-0 in favor of democracy, but four right-wing justices took a radical turn. With Barrett on the court, these election rulings will almost certainly favor Republicans.

This LA Times editorial has more on the fake ballot boxes in California.

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McConnell’s Pack-o-Matic

Suddenly much of traditional media seems preoccupied with the idea that Democrats might consider “packing” the Supreme Court. This particular phrasing is ahistorical and completely misleading. It ignores the years of scorched-earth Republican obstruction to Obama’s judicial nominees, including the refusal to give Merrick Garland a hearing, followed by unbridled court-packing under the Trump administration, in which the judiciary has been stuffed with unqualified cronies and Federalist Society nutjobs.

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What’s on the Ballot?

I have always thought it idiotic how we talk about presidential elections in terms of individual personalities. Presidential elections are first and foremost about social networks — countless appointees to courts and regulatory agencies. Most importantly, this one is about the defeat of authoritarianism — the only way we will ever have a more progressive future, or any future at all.

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A Flock of Fanatics

Bill Barr is fond of blaming “militant secularists” for all of society’s ills, which result from unbridled “individual rapacity,” and insisting on a faith-based “natural law” as the only way to control these instincts. Fun fact: Did you know Bill Barr is worth $40 million? After serving in the first Bush administration, he went to work for Verizon (then GTE), and when he retired, received a $17.1 million income deferral payment and a $10.4 million separation payment according to Forbes. Is it just me, or do I detect a little unbridled individual rapacity?

A couple other relevant links: More on Bannon’s feud with the Pope and the establishment of his creepy nationalist “gladiator school.” I almost missed this bit about FEC chair James Trainor III making some very unsettling remarks that sound suspiciously like, oh, a theocrat trying to establish a state religion. Anyway, he’s only in charge of the election — no biggie.

And for more on Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Ms. Magazine has a rundown, including the source of that quote. The secretive sect she belongs to believes that women are spiritually inferior to men. As one former member put it, “[Husband and wife] cannot meet as equals, because the husband always has divine authority on his side.” Okay, then. Bring those sex discrimination cases ON!

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How to use Twitter without getting angry

Twitter can be a tool for activism, giving a voice to the powerless. On the whole, though, it’s destroying our brains, making people crazy, and dooming us all.

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‘Burbs of Chaos

The Trump campaign and its media surrogates have been pushing the false narrative that America’s cities have become dystopian hellscapes, and that crazed mobs of Those People are headed to the suburbs. It’s a barely-updated version of 1970s “white flight” rhetoric that ignores the changes in cities and suburban demographics over the past 50 years. It is fair to say, though, that suburban and exurban areas are now home to many far-right extremists, one of the most infamous examples being AR-15-toting QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Greene, who will almost certainly win her Congressional race in Georgia.

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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

 

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