Saturday, April 10, 2010

Monsieur Peray explains "The Dark Pope"

Normally I wouldn't be writing a post on a cartoon that appeared in the media over a year ago, but since the Russians are coming to get Monsieur Stephane Peray, the is-he-or-isn't-he syndicated political cartoonist at the Korea Times (see here), I thought I'd share part of a recent exchange specifically about one of the cartoons that had some in the K-blogs roundly criticizing him, the one right below.

I wrote:
Aloha again!

I was wondering if you could shed light on one of cartoons the K-blogopshere found particularly controversial last year.

It was dicussed at Korea Sparkle.

Was this cartoon meant to depict Pope Benedict, or were you depicting the formerly excommunicated Bishop Richard Williamson, who has been something of a Holocaust denier? Or were you depicting the Pope in relation to Williamson?

If the cartoon is about Williamson at all, you should also note that the Korea Times entitled it "The Dark Pope," which would have muddled your intent. Perhaps that is something to take up with them.
In response, Monsieur Peray wrote:
Anyway , the Dark pope was because he rehabilited that holocaust –denier cardinal ( yes 3rd option )
I pushed a little bit the envelop on this but the Swastika appears nowhere if you look carefully not the word Nazi have been mentionned ( you mentionned it ) . That’s the problem with suggesting things, it gives a certain room for interpretation . Yes I exaggerated a bit on this one but he’s not a nazi officer – he’s a vilain from Starwars but sometimes it’s fun to exaggerate and push the envelop. Let’s not forget that the Vatican didn’t move one inch during the Holocaust. Yes this pope was in the Hitler youth and I agree it ‘s not his fault . But we can remind the catholic church their fair share of darkness ( and that is what this carton is about ) . You have to learn to see real statement from pure exaggeration ( it’s all mixed in a cartoon )
Fair enough. I can see that being a legitimate statement about a contentious news story. And despite what appears to look an awful lot like a Nazi Parteiadler (party eagle) and an armband reminiscent of those worn by the Nazis, the caricatured drawing itself contains no swastikas and indeed the figure looks more like Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars saga. Though nudged along, we the viewers are inferring the character is a Nazi. But that's sort of the point, isn't it?

Anyway, my purpose in bringing this up is to point out, based on a direct discussion with the cartoonist, that there was a point to the cartoon, and that point, though controversial or even "insensitive" (as Hub of Sparkle wrote), is perhaps the legitimate sphere of a political cartoonist.


  1. Guess he'll go after Russia again due to the tragedy involving the President of Poland.

  2. Perhaps.

    But I'll tell you, the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw the CNN Breaking News email on my iPhone was that, "Oh, my God! The Russians killed the Polish president."

    Well, I didn't think definitely, but I thought it at least a remote possibility. But when I looked into this further, the case for a realistic conspiracy theory mounted.

    Lech Kaczyński wasn't exactly pro-Russian. He strongly opposed a German-Russian gas line that would go through Poland, likening it to WWII-era agreements between Lenin and the Nazis. His government recognized Kosovo, and in particular, he spoke out that the situation in Georgia was an act of aggression by Russia (and according to Wikipedia, he "provided the website of the President of Poland for dissemination of information for blocked by the Russian Federation Georgian internet portals").

    But that's just conspiracy theory, right? Surely the Russians wouldn't bring down a plane, right? Well, to get to the bottom of this for sure, because they have Vladimir Putin himself running the investigation! Yay!

    And that's when I started really wondering if this is not a mere accident.

  3. Conspiracies under every rock, huh?

    I wouldn't put it past Putin and his minions, but I think this was just a case of foul weather and an accident.


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