Happy Wednesday, #Twittistorian friends! This is @sliptonmedieval, tweeting again about #Imagesashistory. Yesterday we looked at the evolution of the Jewish caricature. Today: its afterlife in political cartoons. Warning: it will be ugly. Hate images will be X'd out.
In fact, the first caricature of specific, living Jews was a political cartoon. For my full argument see: https://academic.oup.com/past/article-abstract/232/1/3/1752422?redirectedFrom=fulltext)
In brief: this doodle at the top of a 1233 Exchequer receipt roll caricatured a Jewish financier named Isaac in order to lampoon the king’s favourite, who controlled the Exchequer of the Jews and did business with Isaac.
The doodler gave Issac three faces to compare him to the Antichrist. This associates Isaac with deceit, fraud, usurpation of authority, conspiracy, threat. All these elements will recur in following centuries.
In the 18th c., political cartoons applied anti-Jewish imagery in similar contexts: critique of royal favourites & secret deals, financial corruption. Notice the "Jew-like" devil: hooked nose, thick lips, bulging eyes: signs conveying conspiracy, corruption/deceit, usurpation.
In the 19th c. we again see familiar themes (money/greed, corruption/deceit, usurpation, foreignness), imagery (devil, hooked nose, beard, thick lips, bulging eyes), & contexts (financial scandals, conspiracy, foreignness). Here's Disraeli as a "Jew peddler" beguiling the queen.
OR: check out this Punch 1883 cartoon (called “Mr. Sharp-Eye-Ra”) show Rev. Ginsburg accusing an antique dealer Moses Shapira of forgery. A photo of Mr. Shapira demonstrates the cartoonist's anti-Jewish exaggeration.
Alas, anti-Jewish cartoons are still here in the 21st c. It's not always clear if the anti-Semitism is intentional. But the signs, themes, and contexts reflect a long history of anti-Jewish imagery. Let's look at three British examples.
A 2005 ad against the (Jewish) Tory politician Michael Howard shows him as a hypnotist. But it also recalls images of peddlers, or Fagin. Note that G.K Chesterton described “A Jew with a gold watch-chain" as "ugly spectacle."
Worse still: a Guardian cartoon of Michael Howard as a Vampire. Hard not to hear echoes of the Blood Libel. Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, described the vampire in the same terms he used to describe Shylock: "lips thick, typical Hebraic countenance, nose w/Jewish aquiline."
But today's America is the ugliest of all. Anti-Semitic imagery is unambiguous in tweets by Trump and his supporters. Here is an image tweeted out by Trump in July 2016. Same elements as from the 14th c.: allegations of corruption, associations with money, hints of conspiracy.
A campaign ad against a (Jewish) democratic candidate for the CT state legislature uses similar imagery, with demonic exaggeration.
More recently, an ad against the (Jewish) candidate for Georgia senator has been shown to have distorted and lengthened his nose.
Those were actual, official campaign materials. They are hateful in and of themselves. But worse still, they inspire far more repulsive and threatening imagery, which has now flooded the internet. Here's a tweet condemning BLM and alleging it is controlled by George Soros.
And here's an image texted to a (Jewish) political scientist. We all get such things. I may be subjecting #Twittistorian to such abuse with this thread! But we have to call it out & contextualize it. Fight the power of images with knowledge. ~sl @sliptonmedieval