Updated: Aug 19, 2022
Dropping the Ball in 2022
On August 16th, L'Acadie Nouvelle, described on Wikipedia as an independent French newspaper published in Caraquet, New Brunswick released this cartoon to the public.....
Needless to say, the outrage is growing among communities, especially Middle Eastern/Arab ones as this circulates.
The image is of two men. One a prehistoric caveman, club over his shoulder, casually dragging a woman by the hair to an unknown destination, while the women, wide eyed, stares at us, the viewer, seemingly helpless, wondering where she’s going.
Ha ha, right? Violence against women. Rape. Ownership of people through force. Classic comedy. Love it <- (this is sarcasm). Bravo Marcel Boudreau, the creator of this art. But it gets better.
Next, we see a man, dressed in a galabeya. A galabeya (galabia, jellabiya) is a loose fitting traditional Egyptian garment from the Nile Valley. It’s tradition, but it is also worn because well.. I lived in Egypt for a month once… and as you can imagine, it is HOT over there. This kind of clothing makes every day life more bearable. The galabeya is also worn in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other Arab/Middle Eastern or African countries.
So, I lived there for a month, and other than the clothing, and yes, religion among many, the people over there tend to be the same. Their kids play outdoors, they watch TV, work jobs, go to the mall, see movies, go to school, University, laugh, get anxiety, bicker, love, struggle, worry about the future, their finances, their children. There are rich, there are poor, there are middle class. Among the very religious, some of their ways may be viewed as a little outdated, but I can think of a couple branches of Christianity that is just as restrictive over here in North America. I always knew all humans were essentially the same in our core, but living there really helped reinforce that truth.
But this man is a little different, isn't he? this man in his galabeya (which most men wear in that part of the world, and some wear over here), has an ak-47 over his shoulder (I think), casually walking as well, with what we can imagine to be a woman, tied by a rope around her neck, crawling helplessly behind him, like a pet. Is this .... funny?
What is this? Simple political satire? Or racist.
At the top of the caricature, the artist asks the question "l'évolution?"
Now, clearly this is not the first time the "progression of humankind" has been illustrated in a way that takes us back to our "roots" as a commentary on society. See below.
And while I can't speak to the artists intent - since there is no clear message here, it is too easy to interpret this as highly inappropriate, racist, hate mongering. We question the logic of those involved in the creation, and those who allowed this to make it through to publication.
Those who may follow world issues may see this as one thing, whereas everyone else may see it as a reinforcement of already negative stereotypes about Middle Eastern/Arab/African men, increasing hate, distrust and aggressiveness towards communities. Do we need this, here? Now? In New Brunswick? In 2022? The NB government has lured tens of thousands of new people to come over the years, and THEY DON'T FEEL SAFE!
Clearly I am not intelligent enough to understand the artistic brilliance of the artist connecting the direct link of tens of thousands of years of the “evolution” of humankind from caveman to Taliban (right?), while skipping over the brutality of the Roman empire, the British empire, the French empire, 250 years of the Atlantic slave trade, Hitler, and more. I imagine women appreciate the skipping over of the oppressive treatment they’ve endured in the 90% white societies that have dominated Western culture the past half millennia, and continue to endure in our Western Society (Daddy picking their husbands? No right to vote? Roe vs. Wade, anybody? Rape shaming? Epstein? No? Let’s just do another hateful Middle Eastern cartoon?).
We’ve come so far, but, a Middle Eastern depiction is the caveat society needs to reminds us how un-evolved humanity, or maybe just “we”, people of colour, truly are.
This is incredibly ignorant, lazy work by the artist, at BEST, and at worst, a sign of something much more, a reoccurring problem in society we can’t seem to ever completely fix, and a problem at this Newspaper, given that it was allowed to be published.
Am I overreacting? It seems at the time of publishing this blog this particular caricature has been removed from their website, but the majority of L'Acadie Nouvelle's readers buy print, and the da