No pushover in Turkey, cartoonist asserts ‘America First’ on international jury

Fethi Gurcan Mermetas of Turkey received a special award on the theme of empowering and educating girls.
Fethi Gurcan Mermetas of Turkey received a special award on the theme of empowering and educating girls.

I’m feeling hyper-patriotic. Once again, we’ve celebrated our great Constitution with small-scale explosives, public assaults on the first amendment, and a few hundred shootings exercising the second. We have a great, huge, tremendous new travel ban. And I recently had the honor of representing America First as a juror in a prestigious world cartooning competition, in Bodrum, Turkey.

(I realize this may demonstrate just how low the country has sunk and why we need to be made great again.)

Bodrum is a wealthy resort town on the Mediterranean, where apparently every Mideast petro-pirate and Russian kleptocrat keeps a 90-foot oceangoing yacht. It’s a mere 24 hours of travel time from Lexington, approximately 22 of them spent in serpentine airport security lines, staring down fellow zombie wanderers, assessing their terror threat levels based on their horrendous travel attire.

The 2017 Aydin Dogan competition drew over 2,000 entries from 63 countries. The drawings had been narrowed to 200 or so by a regional jury of Turkish cartoonists before we arrived. Our jury consisted of four Turks, a Dutchman, a Belgian, an Iranian, and one proud, real, true American-First, me. I was quick to assert that the era of being pushed around was over, that we were tired of being ripped off by Syrian refugee children, by the Germans who have given them safe harbor, and by everyone else. I shouted that we were not apologizing for any regional crises which we may or may not have had a hand in creating, and recommended a wall along the Syrian border and more oil drilling amidst the 12th-century ruins, which should be immediately converted to private prisons.

Our task was to select the winners, runners-up, honorable mentions, and give a special award for cartooning about educating girls. I insisted on behalf of America First that that should include educating girls to be in beauty pageants and for future employment as Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Some cartooning inside-baseball: The European and Asian cartoons are quite often captionless, which maximizes the potential audience but also carries the highest degree of conceptual difficulty. (Here in America First, we deliver snarky one-liners and don’t care if the rest of the world understands or not.) You see the winners here. More inside baseball: If you’re going to use a hackneyed cliché image, it had better be really really good. Human trafficking victims washing up on a desert island, by Britain’s Ross Thomson, fit the bill.

One final note: I couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t a single cartoon critical of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president. I assume that’s because he has imprisoned so many journalists that the rest have gotten the hint. To which I say, Donald Trump, eat your heart out.

Joel Pett is the Herald-Leader’s editoral cartoonist.