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. He is the author of the new book, Diversity Lane/A Liberal Family Saga?
FP: Zack Rawsthorne, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Rawsthorne: Thanks for inviting me again—it’s a real honor.
FP: Congratulations on your new book.
Tell us about it.
Rawsthorne: At my blog www.diversitylane.wordpress.com and my website www.diversitylane.com I’ve been posting anti-left cartoons for a couple years. The worldview of the Left is irresistible as a mine for comedy, it’s like a real-life Pink Panther set-up except that when they stumble and bumble people die, lose their freedom or have their money taken away.
Leftism and freedom are like the oil and vinegar of the ideological world, they’re physically incapable of mixing. So I created this cartoon family of leftists, humorously contrasting their AddamsFamily-like irrationality with that of a normal person– their daughter, Diversity. And please no one write me that this is a ridiculous name for such a family to give their daughter because Gwynneth Paltrow named her kid Apple and Forest Whitaker named his Ocean.
So anyway I’d been getting requests from friends and emailers that I please put out a book, we need this in a form we can mail to our friends as birthday gifts or leave anonymously on some liberal’s desk at the office. This encouraged me to take the plunge. So I drew up about 80 new cartoons which still have never been released online and spruced up about 150 of the still-relevant older ones. I put a great deal of time into laying it all out in an entertaining way, separating things into particular chapters that make sense, adding some contests and other odds and ends into the mix… at 244 oversized pages it’s a really big, fun package full of surprises, many readers have told me this.
FP: What kind of responses are you getting?
Rawsthorne: Outrage, and cheers. The hate mail saying how dare I wipe the floor with our president is pretty funny: here are the same types who sliced and diced W for eight years, all up in arms at my disrespect for Obama. They wrote and attended plays that featured W’s assassination, for God’s sake! The worst thing I do is show an Obama doll laying at the bottom of a garbage can. That’s chickenfeed next to an assassination.
There’s plenty of favorable response too. I’ve included lots of small vignette drawings which I’m told are at times as funny as the main cartoons. For example I have a whole series of small sketches of Alex Lane’s closet illustrating his vast wardrobe of message-sweatshirts such as “I’m Sorry I’m White”. Vehicles like this enabled me to flesh out his leftist worldview—the leftist worldview in general– and still be fun. It’s not always easy to delineate the force and direction of this ideology and still amuse. It’s like trying to tell jokes at a funeral.
FP: I know you joked about possible book-burnings in our earlier interview but have such things actually materialized?
Rawsthorne: It’s early yet. The left’s rabid Palinphobia and assorted anti-right hysterics which set in after the Tucson massacre this month nicely publicized their witch-trial viciousness, which even the liberal/left NYTimes has admitted now. I wouldn’t mind if they turned their Salem Spotlight temporarily on me next, it would be great publicity which my book needs because America has to wake up to the Left and my book helps with that on a humorous level. But that seems to particularly bother them judging from some of my mail… humor is a primal irritant, even dogs recognize and hate laughter at their expense and it’s especially loathed by dictators and dictatorial ideologies.
FP: How much of the book is new, never-before-seen material vs. older cartoons already viewable at your blog?
Rawsthorne: There are about 80 new cartoons plus a few dozen small vignettes but I don’t have the patience to go through and count them all. I already proofread the book about seven times which is longer than any decent person should be forced to spend with this family. Aside from the brand new material I included about 150 older cartoons and massively cleaned them up in terms of drawing quality and character consistency.
FP: You quote Shakespeare at the outset of the book—any specific reason for this choice?
Rawsthorne: Initially I just wanted to class up the joint with that quote from Lear but like all of Shakespeare the play demonstrates profoundly conservative ideas and it’s very obvious that Shakespeare had common sense about, for example, human evil– marking him as a conservative. Edgar is the arch-villain of the piece (or one of them; it’s like an MSNBC roundtable, this play). At one point he speaks the following lines, and in so doing voices and mocks one of liberalism’s definitive beliefs: that wrongdoers are often not responsible for their misdeeds, it’s Society or a bad upbringing or Sarah Palin that’s to blame. Shakespeare poetically makes mincemeat of this notion in no uncertain terms.
“This is the excellent foppery of the world,
that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeits
of our own behavior, we make guilty of our disasters
the sun, the moon, and stars; as if we were
villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion;
knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical
predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by
an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and
all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on.”
FP: Anything you’d like to point out about the format of the book?
Rawsthorne: I put a couple different contests in there with real prizes. If you come up with the best funny caption to a particular cartoon I’ve featured you can win a pretty valuable prize. Plus there’s a “Find the Conservative Element in the Lane Home” contest. This is sort of like one of those hidden picture things on the back of a cereal box except that you have to provide the cereal yourself.
FP: One of your extended narratives depicts a scene of a talking Obama doll lecturing from the bottom of a trash can. Are you going too far here?
Rawsthorne: I don’t believe you can go too far with Obama. Here’s a guy who spends something like 20 years at the feet of a mentor demonstrably anti-Semitic, anti-American and racist [anti-white]. I would no sooner cut such a person some slack as I would the 20-year understudy to the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. I thought that’s what color-blindness was supposed to be all about. Besides, all I’m doing is drawing funny pictures of Obama– I’m not the one restricting and undermining the healthcare choices of an entire nation.
The many initiatives and directives we’ve seen under Obama read like jokes. They’re like one of those classic celebrity roasts, only the target is America. “Ladies and gentlemen, is this an arrogant nation, or what? [leftist applause] I mean, “NASA” —come on! What kind of arrogance must it take to think we’re so important we can even stake out THE MOON for ourselves!” [leftist applause] What, we ran out of countries on our own planet to enslave? [leftist applause] How about a little less conquering, a little more love! Why not a NASA that puts galactic conquest second and Muslim Outreach first, huh? Let’s hear it for NASA and Muslim Outreach!” [leftist applause]
FP: One of your chapters is entitled “Scenes from an Adoption/ A Multicultural Tragedy.” Why a tragedy?
Rawsthorne: Any time you bring leftists and Race together you’re headed for trouble. “Scenes from an Adoption” has about 20 new cartoons detailing what happens when the Lanes adopt a black child from the neighborhood. I won’t give anything away but since this is a self-serving adoption right from the get-go things don’t always proceed smoothly. They talk a good game, the Left, are almost persuasive if you don’t think very deeply about things. “We’re the Democrats—the good guys– and we’re here to save you from the Republicans and this terrible nation with its racist heritage.” In their own minds a lot of them actually believe it—believe they’re like this army of Eleanor Roosevelts on white horses come down from liberal heaven to rescue the blacks from a still-unfair America, with a John Williams score in the background. The problem is, when you drink too deeply from the cup of color-consciousness and wash it down with a hefty chaser of victimhood you end up doing grievous harm to the people you claim to be helping. That’s why sizeable portions of the inner city black community, after fifty years or more of massive support for and interaction with Democrats, is in worse shape now than it was in the 1960s. Liberalism makes an obsession and a sick fetish of Failure, best exemplified in what they’ve done to poor urban blacks. The Left loves failure, they revel in it because it heightens their self-importance and election-day cachet if they can swoop in decade after decade with programs and welfare and other folks’ money to “rescue” people who are failing. Too bad they never learn that this rarely improves people. It’s a cheap, pathetically clichéd method of helping others since it never touches their souls or inspires their inner fire, never builds their will to compete and succeed. But then, why would liberals want to fire up inner city souls with the will to succeed when they’ve spent so much time teaching everyone that success is generally selfish and predatory and the more you earn the more should be taken from you by big government?
FP: You’ve devoted specific chapters to a couple of the characters in your series. Why?
Rawsthorne: Devon and Sierra got their own chapters. I had a lot of material on them, but I also get the most email about them. Every now and then a guy will write me a note that says he finds Devon strangely attractive in an androgynous sort of way. These always feel like guilty pleasures, like if they didn’t tell me they’d have to tell their priest during confession. But it makes sense to focus on these characters, too. Devon represents the “intellectual” side of Leftism; she’s the reader, the thinker, the one with the dangerous half-baked concepts that underpin the dangerous half-baked actions. Sierra is actually pretty apolitical, she’s just too stoned. This is the hedonistic, shallow, it’s-all-about-fun side of liberalism. There’s a price to be paid for this attitude though, which is why Sierra is so often in the hospital.
FP: I see you dedicated the book to the United States Armed Forces. Are you a vet or currently enlisted?
Rawsthorne: I am not—sad to say. I think of it as my greatest personal shortcoming to have not served. I think service enhances and improves the average person immeasurably and I heartily encourage it in young people. Service can go a long way toward keeping your kid from becoming a Devon or a Sierra.
FP: Obama gets his own section too. Are you concerned about this dating the book, over time?
Rawsthorne: I’m not, because I think that even after Obama is gone from the scene Obamism will remain with us— it’s a perennial, a tragic evergreen, if that term hasn’t yet been subverted by Environmentalism. Our Founders experienced and hated it in the 18th century and started the American Revolution over it. Obama just represents the latest strain of statism, big government, ultimately totalitarianism of one degree or another. Such monstrous anti-freedom impulses have always and will always exist, so I think writings and cartoons about Obama by myself and others will continue to carry both ideological and historical resonance in years to come.
FP: You’ve included a lot of global warming material. The reason?
Rawsthorne: Manmade Global Warming—just typing that I’m reminded how much it sounds like a concept from a melodramatic sci-fi film, which is where it should have stayed—is for me the grandest of grand metaphors for the whole endless list of left/liberal myths. Our SUVs and carbon emissions are not causing the oceans to rise scarily like in some shelved Dino De Laurentiis movie, and winter is not going to cease to exist as predicted by many somber, liberal scientific minds. Nor did the bait ’n’ switch rebranding of it all into “climate change” after the warming failed to show fool those of us who are paying attention. But it’s all a grand metaphor because it’s only one of a long list of liberal myths pertaining not to our meteorological but to our intellectual climate. “Be kindly toward evil regimes and they will turn around.” “Men and women are pretty much the same, it’s just their different modes of upbringing that molds their masculine and feminine characteristics.” “America is a villainous nation, perhaps the world’s most culpable in terms of human misery.” “High achievers should be taxed at higher rates than low achievers, i.e. penalized for their success.” “Palestinians and Israelis are approximately equal in terms of their respective cultures’ morality.” I could go on and on, it’s a sickeningly endless list. But it was important for me to handle Manmade Global Warming prominently in my book because it’s so emblematic of the whole tendency toward leftist mythmaking. Chesterton’s often-quoted pronouncement on non-believers—and a significant proportion of non-believers exist on the left—bears repeating here: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”
FP: Can a book of cartoons really impact the leftist sway over our culture, which you cite as your goal?
Rawsthorne: Our culture today is drowning— already drowned, maybe—in a morass of degradation, sloppy thinking, indiscipline, self-absorption, stupid niceness, you name it– fed largely by a left/liberal zeitgeist which favors such traits over their more tough-minded and demanding opposite values. Nonetheless I believe we should strive to, as Churchill said, “never, never, never, never give in.” I hope I may be forgiven for quoting as great a man as Churchill in the context of representing my humble book of cartoons. “Even a flea can reach Mount Olympus on Pegasus’ mane.”
FP: Thanks Zack, it’s been good having you on FP Interview.
Rawsthorne: Thanks again, I greatly appreciate the forum.
FP: To order Diversity Lane/A Liberal Family Saga?, Click Here!