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Anatomy of a cartoon II

You may be surprised to learn from the above cartoon that Ukrainians are People of Color. I think POC must be the correct designation, for the above figure is not any recognisable race—although she is definitely “coloured”. Symbolically, the lily-white Ukrainian has become vaguely Latino because within the Western civic religion “POC” stands in the same relation as “martyr” in Christianity. To colour the Ukrainian in the cartoon in this way bears no relation to anthropology, anymore than St. George is depicted in an anthropologically correct way—as progressives say, he was a Palestinian after all. To colour the girl this way is just a semiotic shorthand for “good person you should feel sorry for”, no more and no less.

The artist must be very ideologically earnest, for to do so also demonstrates that they absolutely do not believe whiteness exists. This is suggested by the way the woman wears white clothes but herself appears racially POC; it is a semiotic signal that the artist knows that the Ukrainians are biologically white—as that category is unofficially colloquially understood—and yet the artist has such ideological rectitude they have consciously decided to elide Ukrainian whiteness.

Indeed, stylistically progressive art tries to avoid bone structure—hence the rather peculiar “flat” corporate images—because racial characteristics are meant to be only skin deep, an arbitrary ideological imposition connected to skin colour without deeper biological reality. The result is that sometimes you will a Caucasian body type painted black, but not to notice the deviation is inherent to the game. “What do you mean ‘the bone structure is wrong for a black person’? Sounds a bit racist...” You sound like some Victorian bone collector with a few Pygmy skeletons in your cupboard, fine curios to whip out over wine and cheese or to entertain the kiddies with at Christmas. Then again, pretty soon everyone will be so obese bone structure will be neither here nor there.

For many people in the continental United States images such as the one above will be their primary engagement with the Ukraine, so as far as they are concerned the Ukraine looks vaguely like Mexico—perhaps with a few black Africans scattered about here and there, probably brought over as slaves by Putin and now reduced to refugee status. I can almost hear the long varnished nails clack-clack on the iPhone touchscreen as a girl pauses from her scroll, brushes her soya milk half-shot grande latte aside, and shows her girlfriends the image: “Yah, it’s just so—yah. How could that Russian guy do that?” “Which guy?” “That ghuy, Vladirov or whatever, just totally killing people for no reason.” “I know, what is his problem?”

You have to admit that the above picture is very nice—the sentimental subject soothes as much as evokes pity. This is no Ben Garrison cartoon, no autistically rendered reality slightly exaggerated and labelled for clarity (a man in a suit clutches a giant globe, beside him sit a few Swiss chalets, mountains, and a cuckoo clock; a small sign says “Davos”—a Garrison arrow points downwards and bears the legend, “evil globalist”). No, this cartoon is very much by and for women: it soothes and sentimentalises at the same time. It illustrates my point that the left can do advertisement, propaganda, and fashion but not art. Technically it is very well done, you cannot quibble; yet it plays on base emotions around babyhood and ideological status instincts around race. Genuine art is much more visceral and ambiguous, being real.

The image consciously inverts Christian iconography, evokes the Virgin Mary with its subway halo and Madonna theme but turns her into an ordinary woman—to use the halo in secular contexts is a favourite visual cue for progressives, a Satanic inversion. A genuine Catholic artist would not use a soft commercial palette and line style; and Our Lady would hover, somewhat awkwardly, on a cloud in the corner—very much there, but very much her own self.


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