Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tea Party Bedtime Stories

Other titles I was considering for this post:
"Seriously,WTF is this?" and "OMG, I can't even..."

As you may have heard, some tea partiers have created a "children's book" called The Liberal Clause. Apparently, it's an allegory for the current state of US politics. You can read more about it here. The book is a mess, visually. The drawings are really, really ugly. If I was a child, I would not want to look at this thing one second longer than I had to. Which is good, because ideologically, it's even worse. It's not parable with a simple lesson to be learned. It's a rant that takes a bunch of policy issues that tea baggers get worked up about and boils them down to sheer stupidity. There's enough wrong with the book to warrant an essay, but I just want to briefly address two pages.

The text on this page reads,
Soon the elves and their polar bears arrived at Christmas Square where they found Mr. Snore.
"As you can see from the hockey stick graph," Mr. Snore announced, "The earth will be consumed by fire within months if we do nothing." As the elves shivered in the cold, Mr. Snore continued, "Because of elf-made global warming, the ice caps are quickly disappearing and there are no more polar bears!"
The story continues,
At this, an elf in the crowd protested, "But Mr. Snore, this is the coldest year on record and we are sitting on polar bears."
With an angry scowl Mr. Snore responded, "You poor little elf, it is obvious that you have not been told the truth. You see, when it comes to elf made global warming, the debate is over!"
What is infuriating about this page is that the actual people who live in the Arctic - not elves - are worried about climate change. The arctic environment is rapidly changing before their eyes. Warmer temperatures are endangering polar bears, making it harder for them to hunt. If the author bothered to do any fact-checking, or y'know, listened to anyone who lives in the Arctic, he would know this. 

One thing that this demonstrates is the white tendency to either erase aboriginal populations, or to mythologize them. The Arctic is a real place. Where real people live. Whose way of life is changing forever because of global warming.  You'd think that when people who have lived in an area for generations say, "this delicate ecosystem seems to be undergoing dramatic changes," we could listen to them.

Which brings me to the second thing this page demonstrates: the refusal of conservatives to consider the perspective of anyone who is different from themselves.

It reminds me of an opinion survey I conducted with a respondent from Saskatchewan who was convinced that global warming was a conspiracy concocted by the Atlantic provinces to get more money from the federal government. 

So, you might not be noticing any environmental changes. But other people are. And their opinions are worth just as much.

On to the next page...

The text reads,
That is exactly what Liberal Clause did. The next day he went to see the Hineese who were very happy to loan money to the North Pole. At a suitable rate of interest that is. 
Note how the "Hineese" all look the same. And are ridiculously short. And have evil grins plastered across their faces. 

The woman on this page is the Liberal Clause's wife, "Lychelle." Oddly, considering that all the other characters are reasonably recognizable characatures of their real-life analogues, she looks nothing like Michelle Obama. And what in the name of all that is holy is she wearing? And her hair? Would Michelle be caught dead looking like that? No. 

More importantly, what does the First Lady have to do with borrowing money from foreign investors? This image is illustrative of the fact that the notion of of women as voracious and destructive consumers is alive and well.  See how she's greedily clutching the cash to her chest? She's in the picture because she's a woman, and women want money to buy fancy, wasteful things. 

The Liberal Clause is an interesting book, as it provides a portal with which you can see the world through the eyes of a tea bagger. The view is truly repugnant. 


  1. Why is it a "hockey stick graph"? Because hockey is wintery? That's one element of the "satire" I don't get in the slightest.

    Also, notice "Liberal Clause's" exaggerated bow. Because that's what Obama does. Demeans himself by showing respect to other world leaders.

    I don't even want to read more about this book. I think it would make me sick.

    And the illustrations! Augh!

  2. Well, the one saving grace of it all is that the book is so terrible it will never actually be read to any real children. I can't imagine any kid sitting still to listen to more than two sentences from that book. It'll be a gag gift for right wing nuts to give each other.

  3. I'm reading Eaarth by Bill McKibben, and the global warming part made me cry a little more inside. Seriously, you don't even need to be in the Arctic to experience it.

  4. @Christina The term hockey stick is used to describe the pattern of the graph reconstructing Northern Hemisphere temperatures for the last 1,000 years. This graph forming the hockey stick's "shaft", followed by a sharp increase corresponding to the "blade". It is part of popular culture thanks to Al Gore and various climate deniers that claim that the methods to collect the data (like the use tree ring) is flawed.

  5. Re: obvious bow:
    Note that L. Claus is doin' it rong.

    To bow with the head up like that, facing - worse, grinning at - the person you are bowing to is disrespectful in the extreme, being a sign that you're willing to bow but don't trust the person you're bowing to enough to take your eyes off them.

    /grumpy martial-artist nitpick


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