The creator of Diversity Lane, a print-cartoon series, discusses why he mercilessly skewers progressives.
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Zack Rawsthorne, a conservative writer/cartoonist who is the creator of Diversity Lane (www.diversitylane.com), a print-cartoon series and soon-to-be-released book which mercilessly skewers the liberal/left world-view on a regular basis. A man on a mission to "help get America laughing at the Left," Rawsthorne believes that far too much ground is given up in the humor department to the forces of modern liberalism. In his view, without widespread participation in the arena of Humor, the conservative vision-- which Rawsthorne regards as essentially common-sense-- is severely undermined in our culture.
FP: Zack Rawsthorne, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Rawsthorne: I appreciate the invitation.
FP: Congratulations on your creation of Diversity Lane.
Rawsthorne: That's most kind of you-- thanks for the vote of confidence.
FP: Tell us what inspired you to start it.
Rawsthorne: Our culture is saturated with liberal/left thinking, which is to say dangerously mistaken assumptions about life, people, the world, America, you name it. I was leaving a used book store one rainy afternoon and my eye fell on an old Addams Family collection-- you know, those cartoons The New Yorker used to run many years ago which evolved into a TV show and then movies. The Addams Family was a clan of grotesques, people ominously opposite from normal folks, and it suddenly hit me that today's incarnation of such an against-the-grain household would be a hypothetical family of liberal/leftists. The Addams Family reveled in darkness-- that is, the characters came down on the side of Death and morbidity in a way that series creator Charles Addams was able to make wryly amusing. But many liberals today will march in a candlelight vigil in support of condemned-to-death murderers, for whom these reverent ideologues have a twisted sympathy. And hundreds of thousands of other liberals not physically engaged in the hushed quasi-religious midnight march routinely vote and think in ways that support the ghouls circling Death Row. This is just one of countless examples. They glorify the down-and-out vagrant lying in the gutter as some kind of societally wronged Noble Savage with a bottle of Jack Daniels, while holding the self-sacrificing, responsible, hard-working entrepreneur in suspicion or contempt if he has dared to become reasonably successful. They squirm and rail against the public mention of God as if it indicates some fearsome evangelistic insurgency come down from the hills of Appalachia to enforce violent religious strictures on us all-- rather than the ever-present touchstone of countless speeches from Washington to Lincoln to Roosevelt and practically every statesman in history. They're skeptical-to-condemnatory of Israel but cautiously supportive of the radicalized Palestinians and other bloodthirsty Middle East types whom they paint as "wronged" by America-like (and therefore suspect) Israel. And this just scratches the surface.
FP: What are your goals with Diversity Lane?
Rawsthorne: My regularly re-stated chief goal is to get America laughing at the left. I'd like to help people-- through my cartoons-- see the left for what it is: a twisted, anti-rational, often anti-human world-view which, through its widespread spokesforces in the mainstream media, has come to dominate our cultural mindset to a dire degree. And all through cleverly devised arguments and theories which routinely represent Good as Bad and Bad as Good. In their extreme ideological gyrations they can be not just dangerous but funny, and this needs to be more fully explored. If enough people can come to comprehend the laughingstock essence of leftist thought we’ll go a long way to undermining it as the pervasive destructive force that it is.
FP: Are your cartoons based on real people, and do we know any of them?
Rawsthorne: They're based more on actual human types than on specific people but to be sure many of the traits exemplified in my characters get played out publicly every single day by Democrat politicians or, alternately, Hollywood & TV celebrities. When Harry Reid condemns our war effort as "lost" while we still have troops engaged in battle, he's being an Alex Lane. When Joy Behar screeches that Republican senatorial candidate Sharron Angle is a bitch en route to Hell, she's being a Devon. Sadly, Republicans too at times can betray their ideals and act like liberals. I keep trying to formulate a cartoon character representing this trait but always end up tossing them in the trashcan in disgust.
FP: Have you done any political art before?
Rawsthorne: I began several anti-Left cartoon series since renouncing my initially Democrat roots several decades back but none of them really got off the ground. I think their main shortcoming was the lack of a family structure, however demented. My earlier attempts were also a bit over-ripe. For example I started one called The Adventures of Liberalia, which followed for a few pages the highly symbolic journeys of a left-leaning knight as he sails from one metaphorical situation to another… kind of a “Pilgrim’s Progress” for the National Review set. I think the lighter tone of Diversity Lane suits our age much better, and besides it’s wearisome rendering armor and chain-mail all the time.
FP: As a satirist do you think there are any things that should not be satirized?
Rawsthorne: I’d tend to stay away from human tragedy, though I didn’t follow this unwritten rule in the wake of Ted Kennedy’s death. I guess I didn’t see it as a tragedy. Mary Jo Kopechne’s death I saw as a tragedy.
FP: Can you talk a bit about the need for a conservative cartoon series to counteract liberal media bias?
Rawsthorne: The left and their mouthpieces in the overwhelmingly liberal mainstream media can be looked at as the most beautifully well-meaning infestation of termites. In their mind they’re just doing their Progressive thing, whereas to common-sense observers they’re progressing right through the foundations of America. Every generation or so they need to change up the props of their grandly and expensively produced stage play because the population catches on to them: Marxism falls from favor and has to become Socialism, then that wreaks too much bloodshed and misery and they have to change it up to Liberalism until this too eventually garners so much bad press that you wake up one morning and it’s Progressivism. The sets change but the rotten soul-destroying ideas live on. With a force this remorseless, all clear-thinking citizens (this includes me at least some of the time) should give profound consideration to participating on some level in fighting back. In my case I can’t do much besides draw so it was essential that I get in the fight via my cartoons. It’s urgent that Americans stop thinking of the left (and the Party that now sponsors them wholeheartedly) as some kind of vital, necessary, balancing aspect in our culture and politics and starts seeing them for what they are: an emperor not just with no clothes but covered with tattoos that read “I Hate America and Everything Traditionally Good About It.”
FP: Where do the ideas for your cartoons come from?
Rawsthorne: When I’m lucky a compelling visual idea will just pop into mind. Like yesterday I was listening to Laura Ingraham’s show and she was discussing Michelle Obama’s obsession with what all of us are eating, and I suddenly imagined a plate of food with a bunch of government signs and barriers criss-crossing the food—directing us to what was good for us to eat on the plate, barring us from other things, etc. Other times I have to really work to come up with a concept. I’ll read a news story and just start playing with it in my head—How would my characters react to this, what would they do? Things like that.
FP: Were you serious when you predicted book-burnings for your book when released?
Rawsthorne: I believe liberals would do this but for the threat of dioxins they might be emitting into the atmosphere. The left has become religious, even fundamentalist in their Greenism and will even forego their inherent zest for idea-suppression if it means screwing with the Environment.
I’d like to sell a lot of my soon-to-be-released book and am thinking of spreading the rumor that it’s printed on Green paper that actually improves the ecosystem when burnt.
FP: Is PC best attacked through humor?
Rawsthorne: PC is of course just a catchy term for cowardice and dishonesty and can cause seemingly stable people to run screaming from the most obvious facts like a vampire flees the sign of the cross. (Actually it can cause liberals to run screaming from crosses too.) PC has a miraculous transformative quality. For example a thug who happens to be black can be transmogrified into a “victim” in the wink of an eye thanks to the magic of PC. Saul Alinsky was probably right when he defined ridicule as man’s most potent weapon, so yes, humorists like me would be wise to carry Alinsky’s torch right into the dark heart of Political Correctness.
FP: Do liberals have a sense of humor? If not, is there hope for them?
Rawsthorne: They do have a sense of humor, but an extremely provincial one. Their lines—and ideas-- are mostly written by Manhattan or LA comedy writers, largely left-leaning in their world-view and therefore very limited in what they allow themselves to find funny. For example Al Sharpton is a figure worthy of his own reality/comedy hour, with his inane accusations of Racism lurking beneath every bed; instead of that the Democrats have in recent memory accepted him as a serious candidate for president. The Democrat Party itself is like a comedy show now with its grand self-image as The Good Guys, till you look behind the curtain and instead of a phony-but-benign wizard they’ve got George Soros manning the switches. As it slowly, painfully dawns on some liberals that they’ve been backing a loser and they put away their childish things and switch to conservatism (actually just common sense), they’ll tend to find their ability to laugh freely again will flower like a potted plant removed at long last from the shade and thrust into sunlight.
FP: Tell us about the positive and negative responses to Diversity Lane; how do you deal with negative email, scurrilous internet remarks, etc.
Rawsthorne: It’s really gratifying to read positive email and know that people are getting what I’m trying to put out there. I’d like to say Thanks to everyone reading this who has cared to drop me a line over the last couple years. When I read the negative mail I try to get a sense of whether I’m dealing with a zealot or just someone misguided into irrational ideas by the mainstream media (but possibly salvageable). If the latter I’ll occasionally respond with a friendly counter to their thoughts, or recommend to them one of my favorite thinkers like Victor Davis Hanson, Dennis Prager, Dorothy Rabinowitz, Thomas Sowell, David Horowitz, Michelle Malkin, Dinesh D’Souza, Charles Krauthammer or some other particularly clear-sighted and eloquent expositor (and thank God there are quite a few to choose from). Or I’ll cite a quote or idea from past wisdom. I just read that the great French anti-statist thinker Bastiat compared imagination-oriented leftist thought to astrology, and observation-oriented conservative thought to astronomy and chemistry. I might just need to use that one today.
FP: Zack Rawsthorne, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.