Worth a Thousand Words: Hitler and Nazism in US Editorial Cartoons


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Dr. Rafael Medoff, the Founding Director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington, D.C., discusses his co-edited book, “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust,” which offers a comprehensive panorama of how editorial cartoons in newspapers across the United States perceived the rise of Hitler and the world’s reaction to it.

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This season of the Tel Aviv Review is made possible by The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, which promotes humanistic, democratic, and liberal values in the social discourse in Israel.

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One comment on “Worth a Thousand Words: Hitler and Nazism in US Editorial Cartoons

  1. Greg Pollock says:

    Suppose that birth rate increased with economic development, rather than the known reverse. Then present day Germany would perceive the Syrian influx as an even greater threat than some therein do today, not expanding productivity but tightening job competition at lower economic levels. I’ve read that after 1936 the US showed no indication of moving out of depression; rather, WW II recovered the economy through total war production. Immigration was naturally seen as a further drag on a more than distressed economy, overriding any moral concern for even as few as 900 Jews already waiting off the US coast, for their entry might threaten future exceptions. We relativize events to our lived worlds. Refugees there, then, implied few opportunities emotionally, even if they could not enter one’s competitive world. Consider African refugees in Israel. Argument for asylum ultimately must rest on closing the border to further such migrants for, especially under climate change and its social upheavals, one can expect more migrants latter. This is why the national right wins on the issue, or keeps a plurality silent; global humanitarianism closes no gate.

    Humanitarianism is a luxury of well being. After WW I, zero sum competition among nations and individuals, Social Darwinism, was intellectually common; Justice Holmes used it in his infamous (still controlling albeit dormant) Buck v Bell (1927), condoning the sterilization of “imbeciles” for the good of the nation. Lesson taken from WW I was not Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations but never go back. Global humanitarianism, core to the pluralistic left, found a policy home as method of preventing future world wars, after never go back failed and the US emerged as the only nation internally untouched by war’s destruction. Even then, rebuilding Germany was contingent on fueling the US economy’s peace retooling in the Marshal Plan.

    Presently in the US, illegal immigrant expulsion is deaf to the simple reality that without these immigrants the US would be in marginal population decline. This macro fact has no relevance for a large swath of the population seeing no economic advance in their future; rather, they see these immigrants as present or family future rivals, or drain on social/police services. Macro measures are meaningless under personal trap or decline.

    If economic growth can no longer be widely shared (an arguable proposition in post-industrial economies), we will have a real problem in constructing a definition of “national.” (I submit that Trump’s foray into NFL “anti-patriotism” as an indicator–“respect the flag!”) We will not look at humanitarian (the secularization of Christianity) cartoons because our necessary blinders fail their sight. Just as we quite easily turn from Jesus when we need to. And who defines need?

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