From Al Sharpton’s hair to political hustlers, nationally syndicated comic strip author Aaron McGruder covered a wide range of topics at an open discussion in a packed Isla Vista Theater on Saturday.
McGruder, author of “Boondocks,” has recently become well known for his pessimistic political speeches. He is one of the few nationally syndicated African-American cartoonists and, at age 28, one of the youngest.
McGruder began his speech by saying he is bored by static lectures. He invited the audience to shout out questions or subjects they would like to hear his view on. When an audience member yelled that she would like to hear his views on the possible war against Iraq, McGruder said if people came to his speech expecting an anti-war rally, they would be sorely disappointed.
“There’s three things Bushes do: Make lots of money for themselves and their friends, kill brown people and try to take over the world,” McGruder said. “Knowing this, you all should have been trying to do something a few years back when Bush stole the election. It’s too late now.”
Crowd response to McGruder’s points was mixed, but the subject of the current protest movement elicited indignation from the crowd.
“The problem is you have a government that doesn’t have to listen to you at all,” McGruder said. “Lots of people on the left like to do things just to do it. They love noble failure, so they show up to a piece of real estate, walk around and make speeches, and then go home feeling like they did something. It’s better that they’re doing it overseas, since their governments still have to listen to them and may try to put pressure on America.”
Throughout his speech, McGruder likened politics to Hollywood. He said the right wing of the political spectrum is “a bunch of angry, hate-filled people who simply wanted to hear more anger from people like Rush Limbaugh,” while characterizing the left as being “sellers of false hopes and dreams, wanting to hear from people like Jesse Jackson.” Green Party members are purveyors of noble failure, much as the protest movement was, McGruder said.
“To play the game in politics, you’ve got to be charismatic and good on your feet,” McGruder said. “Nader is like that kid in high school that no one wanted to hang out with. The Greens aren’t playing to win. If you want to know how bad things are in the Green Party, in all honesty they called me a few months back and asked me to run for president. When I told them I wasn’t 35, they acted like that was my opinion.”
McGruder said that Al Sharpton was the best Democratic candidate currently available because he has many good ideas and could crush his opponents in a debate. The biggest problem with Sharpton’s campaign, McGruder said, is his hair.
“The man is trying to sit at the tables of power with a perm,” McGruder said. “I’d like to help him, but if he’s not going to help himself and get a haircut I don’t see the point.”
On the subject of black television, specifically the B.E.T. and UPN stations, McGruder said they exploit and demean black audiences. He said the owners of these stations demean black audiences because they can make more money by doing so since bad programming costs less and panders to those with lower intelligence.
“Black people wonder why the black owner of B.E.T. is exploiting them,” McGruder said. “Because he’s a capitalist. He found a way to exploit them that white people couldn’t even do, and black people don’t protest it because they have this view where if one black person is making money, they’re all making it in a way. Don’t expect people like him or Oprah to give back to the community, because all they are is hustlers and they only help out other hustlers.”
McGruder said if there was one thing he could leave the audience with, it would be to open their eyes to the fact that they are constantly being manipulated.
“Look at the situation in North Korea,” McGruder said. “They’ve got nukes pointed at us right now, but we’re not afraid of them. We’re told what to be scared of and when. Just watch over the next year and see how nearly everyone on the television and in these speeches will be trying to manipulate you in some way. Stop looking at charisma and start looking at what’s being done.”
McGruder said he was not interested in saying only the things that would get him invited back to universities to speak again.
“I could come up here and take you on an emotional rollercoaster; make you mad, make you inspired, get you pumped up to go out into the world and make a change, and then maybe I’d be invited back and get paid more money to talk,” McGruder said. “Right or left, it’s all a hustle. I want to be the only speaker who comes up here and doesn’t try to manipulate you.”