The Sorensen Monologues

Reader mail on right-wing “political correctness”

I appreciated this note from reader Alex, in response to my recent comic on the concept of political correctness:

I’ve been reading your comic for years and I loved your latest one on right wing political correctness—something that seems to get completely ignored!

I’ve made a list of right wing political correctness in the States I thought you’d enjoy:

You cannot critique:
Police officers (particularly policeMEN), firefighters (particularly fireMEN)
Patriotism/Nationalism/Fourth of July
Christian Holidays (and you must say Merry Christmas/Happy Easter)
White victims of crime/trauma
Eating meat

You cannot use:
[The terms] heteronormative, internalized misogyny, implicit bias/racism, white privilege, racist (must say racial bias), sexist
Data, science, statistics that contradicts “feelings” (of white people that is)
Words to describe terrorists other than Islamic extremist .

You cannot talk about:
Drug addicts as victims rather than criminals
Reasons why someone might get an abortion
Birth control
Criminals as people
Terrorists as people
Cycles of poverty
Terrorism committed by white people
Excitement about “first woman” or “first X”

Pod People

Poison control centers received 37,000 calls over two years about kids getting into detergent pods, which resulted in two deaths and two dozen life-threatening injuries. Doctors are urging parents not to buy them. No one really needs clown-colored chemical hackysacks to clean their underwear. Keurig’s plastic packaging poses an environmental problem, to the extent that the inventor of the ubiquitous “K-cup” now has regrets. More on that here.

I was going to use disposable toothbrushes pre-loaded with toothpaste as a gag in the last panel, but it turns out they already exist.

FOX’s female follies

On “political correctness”

If there is any silver lining to the Trump campaign, let it be that America finally wakes up to the Orwellian nature of the term “political correctness,” which has become a catch-all for any progressive values. It’s a one-sided insult that limits debate and critical thinking.

Moment of reckoning at the DNC

Almost two years ago, I wrote about my hopes for a challenger to Hillary in the Democratic primary. Like many, I’d been frustrated by what I saw as a lack of consistency and commitment to progressive values. So I’ve been open to criticism of her record, and attempts to nudge her in a better direction. Fast forward 23 months: While in Philly for the DNC, I had many conversations with people who don’t necessarily follow politics as closely as I do, or who get their information from less-than-scrupulous outlets, and I was stunned by the depth of paranoia and conspiracy theorizing about her. Of course, I was aware of this problem up to a point. But so many people are still hung up on Benghazi, her email server, even outlandish murder theories I’d never heard before. Most seemed scared of Trump, but were so wary of Clinton that they wouldn’t commit to voting for her. Granted, this is all anecdotal, but it was enough to leave me feeling alarmed.

I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that, in both positive and negative ways, Hillary is very much like Obama. Both have engaged in pandering to the right when it suited them, and both have been problematic on TPP, but both have also cared deeply about healthcare and many other progressive causes. If anything, Clinton is now running a bit to the left of Obama; Bernie succeeded in improving the platform in very meaningful ways. So people who think Obama is fine or at least acceptable, but Hillary is evil incarnate, are at least partly succumbing to a caricature that has been crafted over decades by the right. It would be nice if everyone could celebrate the truly historic nature of her candidacy, at least for a moment.

HuffPost Politics video interview

HuffPost Politics filmed a great little video interview with Ann Telnaes, Signe Wilkinson, and me at the DNC. You can check it out here.

Sketches from the DNC in Philly

I’ve got a post up on Fusion collecting my sketches of scenes from the Democratic National Convention.


Also be sure to check out this great collection of women cartoonists offering advice to Hillary Clinton, which I had the pleasure of editing.

Trumping Our Safety

I’m in Philly for the DNC, so I’ll have to keep this brief. I’m feeling increasingly frustrated by the skewed sense of perspective many Americans seem to have about the dangers we face. Not that recent violence around the world isn’t cause for concern, of course. But Trump’s immigrant-bashing was vile, racist, and truly dangerous.

Ghost Bluster

The backlash goes all the way to the top: even Donald Trump has weighed in with exactly the sentiments you would imagine. Like the director and cast members, I can’t believe we’re even still having this “conversation.”

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I hear it’s pretty good.

After Dallas shootings, united in sorrow

The actual Obama quote, which can be found deep in this article, was:

“The demented individual who carried out those attacks in Dallas, he’s no more representative of African Americans than the shooter in Charleston was representative of white Americans, or the shooter in Orlando, or San Bernardino, were representative of Muslim Americans. They don’t speak for us. That’s not who we are.”

It is truly remarkable, and frustrating, how many people do not understand this basic point. Black Lives Matter has never called for violence as a solution to violence. They are whistleblowers who would not exist if there were not a problem, and thanks to them, millions of Americans have been made aware of that problem. It is reprehensible to suggest, as some have, that they are responsible for the actions of a deranged man armed with a weapon he never should have been able to obtain in the first place.

Beware the Xeno virus!

I realize that technically this should be the Xenophobia virus, but had to shorten it to Xeno for the joke to work. After writing this strip, I googled “Xeno virus” and found that it is a song by the California death metal band Deeds of Flesh. So, apologies to them.

George Will’s Bowtie Rebellion

Conservative commentator George Will made news over the weekend with his announcement that he was leaving the Republican party over Donald Trump. The last straw, it seems, was Trump’s statement that a judge of Mexican descent could not be trusted to preside over the Trump University lawsuit impartially. You might get the sense that Will is deeply troubled by racism, until you start looking at stuff he’s written over the years.

Here’s further context for the quotes and paraphrased statements in the cartoon.

1. Willie Horton ad — From Will’s 1995 column, “22 Questions for Colin Powell”:

What exactly was objectionable about citing Horton and his rape victim as a consequence of that prisoner-release program?

(A common refrain on the right is that Al Gore introduced Horton during a 1988 debate with Dukakis, which is debunked here; Gore only brought up the furlough program.)

2. George Wallace — From 2007 Newsweek column on third-party candidates:

A candidate can succeed in giving an aggrieved minority a voice—e.g., George Wallace, speaking for people furious about the ’60s tumults.

An aggrieved minority? Oh-kay.

3. Hurricane Katrina — From September, 2005 column “A Poverty of Thought”:

America’s always fast-flowing river of race-obsessing has overflowed its banks, and last Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois’s freshman Democrat, applied to the expression of old banalities a fluency that would be beguiling were it without content. Unfortunately, it included the requisite lament about the president’s inadequate “empathy” and an amazing criticism of the government’s “historic indifference” and its “passive indifference” that “is as bad as active malice.”

That flooding metaphor sure was tactful three weeks after the devastation of New Orleans. Will proceeded to lecture the locals on out-of-wedlock births.

4. More on Will and voter ID here.

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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-syndicated political cartoonist whose work has appeared in The Progressive, The Nation, Daily Kos, Austin Chronicle, NPR, Ms., Politico, and many other publications. The recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, she tweets at @JenSorensen.