TEARS FOR NEW ORLEANS, AND US
As horrified as I was by the destruction in New Orleans and Bush’s lack of understanding or caring, it wasn’t until I read Patricia Williams’s “The View From Lott’s Porch” [Sept. 26] that tears ran down my face. The gall the right has shown is nothing less than sinful. We need to take our country back now!
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
I have always found images more powerful than words (which is probably why I’m an art historian), and I choked on the cover of the September 19 issue. You may have intended to say only that Alan Greenspan is too powerful (thus a king) and too conservative, but the picture is squarely in the tradition of anti-Semitic caricature and cartooning, especially that of the nineteenth century in France and the twentieth in Germany. I don’t believe you wanted to convey that message but you did, powerfully.
THE ARTIST REPLIES
New York City
I have been a caricaturist for more than thirty years and am very familiar with this kind of response to caricatures of public figures who have recognizably ethnic features. Of course caricature is about exaggeration of features to make a point. In the past, racial caricatures were employed to make points about masses of people. Minstrel shows, vaudeville, Puck, Harper’s Weekly, Simplicissimus, Der Stürmer were places it could be found with varying intensity and orientation. That world, I am happy to say, is dead and buried. Racial caricature is gone today in popular media, with the exception of groups parodying themselves, the only circumstance where it is now permissible. I make political art today, in the twenty-first century, under a strong belief that a caricature of an individual will be seen as just that. This caricature of Greenspan (done by yours truly, graduate of the Yeshiva of Kings Bay, Brooklyn, 1968) is as much an attack against Jews as a drawing of Bush is a caricature of all WASPs.
SPEAKING OF ABORTION…
Katha Pollitt’s well-written “Feminists for (Fetal) Life” [“Subject to Debate,” Aug. 29/Sept. 5] contains a few discrepancies. Pollitt implies that Feminists for Life wants to make all abortion illegal without exception. Like the early American feminists who worked to enact legal protection from abortion, FFL does support legal protection for women and children. But FFL’s work focuses on addressing the root causes that drive women to abortion. FFL is not a litigious group. Our advocacy work on college campuses, Capitol Hill and in the workplace focuses on resources and support for pregnant women and parents. If abortion becomes illegal, we don’t want women driven to back-alley abortions because they still lack the financial resources and emotional support they deserve. The work of eliminating the root causes of abortion will continue whether abortion is legal or illegal.