Every joke is a tiny revolution.George Orwell
Critics of President Trump can learn something from pro-democracy movements in other countries. Just as pointing and laughing deflates flashers, wit deflates dictators. Making the leader a laughing stock wins people over. In his recent column for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof labels the power of mockery as “laughtism.”
We know it works against Trump. Who can forget the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner when Seth Meyers rolled out his Trump jokes as a grim-faced Donald glared back.
Donald Trump says he would run for president as a Republican, which is odd because I just assumed he was running as a joke.Seth Meyers, 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
The Kristof notes that the Committee for the Protection of Journalists — which I looked at in a recent post about the Voice of America — has intervened this year to defend seven cartoonists around the world who were arrested, threatened with prosecution, or threatened with death.
It was a cartoon of a the prophet Muhammad in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that led to the 2015 attack that killed 11 of its staff. The New York Times’ Norimitsu Onishi reported that the magazine reprinted the cartoon last month as the trial began.
The editorial cartoons that run in my newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, have hit the nail on the head, lampooning the White House’s coronavirus containment claims and strident electioneering. Cartoonists David Horsey and Clay Bennett are among the cartoonists that I’ve featured in my recent posts.
The grins of the people are the nightmares of the dictators.Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo
Kristof closes with a final quote of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo that seems particularly well-timed. In the international embarrassment that was the first presidential debate, Vice President Biden called Trump a liar, but we have come to understand this as a fact, along with his cheating and other corruptions. Trump has been discredited so frequently, most recently in the NYT tax expose, that cartoonist Andy Marlette was ready with this within hours of the debate.
What did make the headlines was Biden calling Trump a clown.
Kristof quotes Liu Xiaobo in assuring us that a clown is much easier to dispose of.
A clown needs less revenge than a monster does.Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo
… satirizing an authoritarian is good for the nation because it makes the eventual downfall and transition softer and less violent.Nikolas Kristof, The New York Times
Practice laughtism. With apologies to Stephen Sondheim, send out the clown.