Quote of the moment, for politics at the end of 2014: Ebenezer Scrooge, “darkness is cheap”

December 23, 2014

Roberto Innocenti, Scrooge on a dark staircase

Ebenezer Scrooge, up a dark staircase; “Darkness was cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” Illustration by Roberto Innocenti, via HornRimmedMagpie

Quote of the moment (an encore post for the season, with a bit of context thrown in later):

Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.

– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Stave 1

I think of that line of Dickens’s often when  I read of the celebrations of calumny that pass as discourse in Republican politics these days. Although, with the 2008 renewing of Limbaugh’s contract, it may no longer be true that his particular brand of darkness is cheap.

Cheap or not, darkness remains dark.

John Leach, Scrooge meets Ignorance and Want

Scrooge meets Ignorance and Want, the products of his stinginess (drawing by John Leech, 1809-1870)

 

Drawing by John Leech (1809-1870), to illustrate Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Work in the public domain (available at WikiSource).

Here is the sentence Dickens put before the quote, to add a little context; Scrooge was climbing a very large, very dark staircase.

Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn’t have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge’s dip.

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.

Speaking of darkness, a longer excerpt from Dickens’s story:

‘Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,’ said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, ‘but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?’

‘It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,’ was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. ‘Look here.’

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

‘Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!’ exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

‘Spirit! are they yours?’ Scrooge could say no more.

‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!’

‘Have they no refuge or resource?’ cried Scrooge.

‘Are there no prisons?’ said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses?’ The bell struck twelve.

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.

A Christmas Carol, Stave 3

Christmas is a festival to celebrate light, what many Christians call “the light of the world?” If so, let us work to stamp out the darkness which the unrepentant Scrooge so dearly loved.

Darkness may be cheap, but it is not good.  Light a candle, and run into the darkness, spreading light. We need more light.

More:


Quote of the moment: Ebenezer Scrooge, and darkness is cheap (still, in 2012)

December 25, 2012

Roberto Innocenti, Scrooge on a dark staircase

Ebenezer Scrooge, up a dark staircase; “Darkness was cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” Illustration by Roberto Innocenti, via HornRimmedMagpie

Quote of the moment (an encore post for the season, with a bit of context thrown in later):

Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.

– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Stave 1

I thought of that line of Dickens’s when, months ago,  I read of this celebration of darkness, ignorance and calumny. Although, with the recent renewing of Limbaugh’s contract, it may no longer be true that his particular brand of darkness is cheap.

Still, it remains dark.

John Leach, Scrooge meets Ignorance and Want

Scrooge meets Ignorance and Want, the products of his stinginess (drawing by John Leech, 1809-1870)

(More about the drawing below the fold)

Read the rest of this entry »


American tsunami

December 10, 2011

Alfredo Sabat on starvation in Africa, Lurie Award winner 2006

Alfredo Sabat on starvation in Africa, Lurie Award winner 2006

Remember this cartoon, from Sabat, in Brazil?  It was a commentary on the “tsunami” striking African children, who were not getting aid like victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami were getting.

Steve Benson, the genius cartoonist at the Arizona Republic, updated the idea.

Steve Benson on the increase in poverty and hunger in America, 2011

Steve Benson in the Arizona Republic, on the increase in poverty and hunger in America, 2011

More: 


Advice for the hungry, from a silly man who can’t control his appetites

June 18, 2010

Cassie graduated from high school and has already moved on to college.  College is where our young Diogenes get bigger and brighter lamps to search with.

And so it is that Cassie calls Rush Limbaugh on what is surely one of the most offensive things he’s ever said.

To this woman:

Dorothea Lange's photo, "Migrant Mother"

Photo by Dorothea Lange

Rush said, “Go to McDonald’s.”

No, seriously.  Go read the transcript at Media Matters, it gets worse; he’s commenting on the report that a lot of kids will go hungry in America over the summer because they are not attending school where they get a good meal every day:

There are also things in what’s called the kitchen of your house called cupboards. And in those cupboards, most likely you’re going to find Ding-Dongs, Twinkies, Lays ridgy potato chips, all kinds of dip and maybe a can of corn that you don’t want, but it will be there. If that doesn’t work, try a Happy Meal at McDonald’s. You know where McDonald’s is. There’s the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s and if they don’t have Chicken McNuggets, dial 911 and ask for Obama.

And — you know, Dave Barry wouldn’t make this stuff up even if he could, because it’s not funny — Rush said this:

There’s another place if none of these options work to find food; there’s always the neighborhood dumpster. Now, you might find competition with homeless people there, but there are videos that have been produced to show you how to healthfully dine and how to dumpster dive and survive until school kicks back up in August. Can you imagine the benefit we would provide people?

A few of my students do that.  They would be the first to tell Rush, it’s not a great way to get a good meal.

Rush should be ashamed of himself.  Perhaps he has no sense of shame.

It’s not as if the signs of hunger in America were not clearly visible.

Vermont Food Bank, via David Osler, Dave's Part

The refrigerator is empty. Image from David Osler

Yeah, I know:  Rush is deaf.  Really. I didn’t know he is blind, and heartless, too.

It’s time he go mute, on his own.  Get out of the way and let some hungry person, some person hungry for the truth, take over the microphone and speak the facts.  Maybe Rush should turn over the microphone to Cassie — she’s got real experience, and a real heart.


Ranan Lurie Award cartoon winners, 2007

December 12, 2007

Winning cartoons revealed.

2007 Lurie Award Winner, 1st place, Ahmet Aykanat, Turkey

1st place to this haunting cartoon from Turkey’s Ahmet Aykanat, a free lancer.

Hunger, war and its unfair, collateral damage got attention from the cartoonists in the past year. Same themes as the previous years, actually. There is a lot of work to do.

The Ranan Lurie competition highlights cartooning on political and economic issues from around the world. Here in the U.S. we get some great cartoons — Oliphant, Sherffius, Grondahl, Telnaes, Toles, Sargent and dozens of others — but we miss out on great cartooning in Asia, South America, the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa.

One of my favorite North American cartoonists Clay Bennett of the Christian Science Monitor won a Citation for Excellence.

Cartoons carry a powerful punch. They make great lesson openers, or great lessons all in themselves.


Ranan Lurie cartoon competition: Sabat, African tsunami

December 22, 2006

 

Most readers here are from the United States. I wager you didn’t see this cartoon when it was first published:

Tsunami, 2006 Lurie Award winner, Alberto Sabat, La Nacion, Argentina

This cartoon won the 2006 Ranan Lurie Award for editorial cartooning, an international competition supported by the United Nations Correspondents Association (other 2006 winners here). The title of the cartoon is “African Tsunami.”

The cartoonist is Alberto Sabat, the cartoon was published in La Nacion in Argentina. The award is named after the outstanding cartoonist Ranan Lurie, who himself was once nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his cartoons that promoted peace and understanding.

Political cartoons make classrooms interesting, and often provoke students to think hard and talk a lot about things they should be thinking and talking about. These links provide more sources of classroom material — please remember to note copyright information.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Reclaiming Space.

Update, December 2007: 2007 Lurie Awards announced; my post here, all the 2007 winners at the Lurie Awards site here.

Update, December 2008:  2008 awards post.

Update December 2009:  2009 awards listed here.

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