A red line runs through the mainstream media, a line which journalists cross at their peril. Which is to say, you don't, whatever you do, criticise Israel and expect to get away with it - ever.
Anyway, that was my thought as I looked at the Moir cartoon in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald.
There was Obama strolling through a typical American city, reading a newspaper and muttering 'Why? Why? WHY?' in response to the latest US domestic massacre in Tucson. On either side of the street were cinemas, video stores and gun shops, all promoting bang bang.
Good one, Moir, I thought. What do Americans expect, living in a country where every lunatic has a gun and is prepared to use it, a country, moreover, that loves nothing better than invading other people's countries and turning them into toast with strawberry jam, especially if the people there happen to be brown, or, not to put too fine a point on it, brown & Muslim. (See my 11/11/09 post Remembrance Day)
Then I recalled Moir's pathetic misreading of Obama's US-sponsored Israel-PA 'peace' talks on December 15 last year: A poster of Obama with the word 'HOPE' is sitting on a wall in occupied Palestine. Below it, on the street, are two donkeys, one labelled Israel, the other Palestine, heading in opposite directions. Both are saying 'NOPE'.
In that cartoon, Moir misrepresents Obama as an honest broker, a bringer of peace and goodwill, without a hint whatever of his country's financial, military and diplomatic backing of Israel, and certainly none of its bizarre subservience to the agenda of the Israel lobby. Likewise, he misrepresents Israel and the Palestinians as two absolute equals, with no reference at all to the complete domination of one by the other. This lame caricature is just another sorry variation on an earlier effort by Moir, on the same theme and with the same cast, of September 2010. (See my 21/9/10 post Cartoon Corner)
So, it's acceptable for a cartoonist to portray an American president, who presides over a land that can't seem to get enough bang bang on the big or little screen, naively wondering why Americans are gunning one another down Tucson-style, but not an Israeli prime minister, who presides over the brutal occupation of another people, with troops and tanks and settler scum on hair trigger, naively wondering why the occasional Palestinian lashes out in a seemingly futile act of resistance.
Now Moir knows the red line well because when he inadvertently crossed it in August 2003 by drawing a comparison between Israel's West Bank wall and the Nazis' Warsaw Ghetto, he came under sustained attack from the usual suspects and was forced to issue a grovelling apology. (See my 24/1/08 post We Remember Warsaw)
Ever since then he hasn't gone anywhere near the red line, which is what makes his cartoons on the issue so utterly lame and irrelevant.
And isn't it curious how clueless Obama can be in a violent America, but oh so wise and all-knowing in a violent Middle East.