Michael: Ramirez Cartoon Mired in StereotypeI read the paper pretty religiously; one of a declining share of Americans who do so. Some of my favorite features are the cartoons. Whether they are just for fun, or the more serious commentary of the editorial type, I love how they convey a powerful message with style and emotional expressivity.
Needless to say, I think editorial cartoons are a form of free speech of great political and cultural significance and should never be censored by the publisher. However, I was greatly offended and saddened at the flip and offensive stereotyping employed by Editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez in Sunday's Opinion section of the Arizona Daily Star. Here is the panel:
Now, I don't think that the Star's editors should have censored this expression of Mr. Ramirez's opinion in any way, even though his work offended me on many levels. I simply claim the right to criticize his work. That's the way this country is supposed to work; not by writing angry letters to get the editors to pull anything that might offend someone, especially someone in power, such as Turd Blossom.
I find Ramirez’s depiction of organized labor as extinct dinosaurs bickering uselessly about their direction as the worst sort of anti-working class bigotry and stereotyping. Unions have not only played a vital role in winning the sorts of working conditions most Americans, including non-union employees, take for granted, and paid for those advances for the American worker in blood, unions are vital to the sort of productivity gains and involved workforce management techniques that keep American business competitive. Unionized shops have better outcomes for everyone, from workers, to owners and management, to host communities.
Past, present, and future, unions are vital to the progress and well being of the American worker. How could it rationally be otherwise? Who else is looking out for American workers? Certainly not multinational corporations who are swapping out American workers for cheaper labor like any other fungible factor of production. Certainly not the political establishment which is voting the American worker out of existence with free trade agreements which benefit no one but international capital holders. Without unions to articulate the dreams and aspirations of America's workers, not to mention negotiate the nitty-gritty details of industrial relations with employers and governments, everyone who works for a living would immediately feel the loss.
30 years of declining real wages in America have coincided with the systematic de-unionization of labor in the service sector workforce. That sad fact points to the one valid point Mr. Ramirez's cartoon points out; American labor does have to adapt or die out. The SEIU-Teamsters should be depicted as a small mammal. Their aim, to revitalize the labor movement by focusing intensively on recruitment and unionizing new shops and industries, is exactly the sort of evolutionary adaptation that is needed to make the American labor movement flourish in the next century and to bring much needed equity between workers and management back to the 21st century American workplace.