Why Doesn’t the Atlantic Fire Noah Berlatsky?

Affecting his usual oh-so-reasonable tone, comics critic Noah Berlasky is out with a hatchet job about the Daily Kos cartoon censorship story this morning. Among the highlights:

There’s not much question here of Rall’s intent. Rall says he didn’t mean a racial slur, and Daily Kos goes out of its way to say that they are not claiming he was purposefully linking Obama to animalistic stereotypes of black people. Moreover, as anyone who has ever seen Rall’s cartoons is aware, his drawing skill is rudimentary at best. There is every reason to believe Rall did not intend the cartoon to look the way it looks.

Not to look a rhetorical gift horse in the mouth or to be a contrarian for contrarianism’s sake, but what the fuck does Berlasky know about my intent? Nothing — because he didn’t bother to attempt to contact me for comment.

As a regular reader of The Atlantic, isn’t this a firing offense? Isn’t trying to get feedback from the subject of your hit piece kind of, you know, Journalism 101? (Note to Art Spiegelman fans: I repeatedly tried to get the Master of Pretension to talk to me for my 1999 Village Voice piece.)

Then there’s the matter of Berlasky’s personal biases. He has a habit of crawling out of the woodwork to comment about my most controversial work, inevitably in the most negative terms he can conjure. That’s fine; he’s entitled to his opinions, one of which is that my work sucks. But readers, I think, deserve to know your biases.

Berlasky reminds me of a music critic I used to work with at the old New York Observer. He hated rap and metal. So every time he reviewed a record that belonged to one of those two genres, he gave it a bad review. The thing is, the readers didn’t know he hated rap and metal. They thought he hated those specific records. Which was unfair because, in some of those cases, the records were pretty good rap or metal.

Berlasky doesn’t care for editorial cartoons. He obviously doesn’t know much about them. (Choice quote: “That’s why Thomas Nast, who could communicate without words, is one of the masters of the genre.” Actually, Nast was quite wordy.) And he definitely dislikes everything I do.

Shouldn’t he have told his editors at The Atlantic about his biases before pitching them this story?


  • I left this response at the Atlantic, although it’s “awaiting moderation”. We’ll see if they approve it.

    This is nothing but a hatchet job, as Rall notes in his response. Rall has been drawing Obama in exactly the same way for five years, but only now is there an uproar. Gee — I wonder why? Could it have more to do with Rall’s critical opinions about Obama’s performance as President, and the DailyKos mob-like attitude against anyone who carries such opinions? Yeah — I think that’s it.

    That’s the real story here, not the fake outrage that Berlatsky is attempting to conjure. DailyKos cartoonist Ruben Bolling did a side-by-side of several of Rall’s drawings of political figures, and proved that Rall uses a consistent style in depicting such public figures in terms of his editorial and artistic intent. Translation: Rall draws political figures consistently as he does because it serves his subtext as a political cartoonist. That Berlatsky is attempting to cow Rall into changing his ways (as did the DailyKos mob) because of a politically correct historical lesson is the apex of liberalism and bullying. To Berlatsky, Rall is subject to vicious attacks because his art should come second to liberal definitions of what is appropriate.

    What’s next Berlatsky? Telling the Met what they can display? The MOMA? How about Emimen — maybe you should get on his case too for using the N-word (a liberal staple, discussing the use of this word). The liberal intelligentsia are busy, busy, busy these days making sure people say and act according to their dictates. The punishment for transgressors is severe. So sayeth the mob.

  • Editorial Note for Ted: “Berlatsky” – not “Berlasky”

  • Yeah, Ted. C’mon. You are responsible for the entire history of cartooning and any random shmuck’s interpretation of your art. Liberals are too honorable to silence anyone. You must redraw the president in an approved manner for an anonymous objector. What about that don’t you get? On second thought, I think your cartoon is racist in regards to Obama’s white half! Wow. You’re all so racist that possibility didn’t even occur to ya?!

    I think this is a good sign. “Liberals” are getting worse. People need to wake up to this. Shameless. There is no logical counter to the points you bring up. The ‘bots are just like their messiah. Obama is hypersensitive to criticism. He levels his condescending glare of how-dare-you-have-the-nerve-to-disagree-with-me.

    I can’t believe how out of control this is. It should really go without saying that your style is abstract and that you don’t get called racist even after depicting Obama the same way in hundreds of publications for years…

    Please don’t reconsider your drawing style just because of this shit flinging. Don’t give them any credit. They’ll see what they want to see and attack you any way they can think of. You’re getting defensive and that means they are succeeding in making it about you. People who want to be reasonable and see the obvious truth will. Don’t try to reason with unreasonable people. Make this about them and their inability to take criticism, their willingness to bludgeon anyone with anything, their false accusations, their tendency to see race everywhere, etc. THIS IS ABOUT THEM AND THEIR BULLSHIT. You don’t have to defend themselves. Just keep pointing to what they are revealing about how they think.

  • […] got more heated when Noah Berlatsky wrote for the Atlantic on the matter, and then Rall called for Berlatsky to be fired. See more of the slugfest in the comments at the Atlantic, if you have absolutely nothing else to […]

Comments are closed.