Sunday, July 31, 2005

Michael: Ramirez Cartoon Mired in Stereotype

I 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:

Michael Ramirez, posted under fair use for criticism and commentary

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.


At 9:26 AM, Blogger shrimplate said...

The popularity of labor unions would increase manyfold if only they saw the light and came out to support more tax cuts for the rich and an end to the estate tax, perhaps in addition to changing workplace rules to allow crucifixion as a productivity incentive. In the current political enviroment I think labor unions would de well to consider such positions.

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Michael said...

God love ya, Shrimplate! You sense of humor is always a welcome respite. In the same spirit...

I think that if only unions would agree to contracts of perpetual endentured servitude under which workers would get no wages, only the scraps off the executive dining room tables, then Union leaders might actually get some of those signed photos of our beloved leader in the mail... along with a donation envelope.

At 10:09 PM, Blogger edwin said...

Just a quick word of thanks for your thoughts on the importance of labor unions over the years. Nice to see that the gains that came out of the labor struggles have not been forgotten by everyone.

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are all a bunch of crybabies that make me laugh. You find a cartoon depicting unions as dinosaurs "offensive"? hahahahaha. Most unions are dying out like dinosaurs because they can't see that their old-fashioned approach to labor negotiations is dying. It's a global economy today and Michael Ramirez' cartoon hit the nail on the head. Instead of crying in your soup and wasting time congratulating yourselves on attacking a cartoon, (a cartoon for crying out loud,) you should spending that energy figuring out how you are going to save your jobs from being outsourced to India.



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