Of Octopuses and NRA
The Associated Press launched a story that, because an NRA cartoon had shown Bloomberg as an octopus trying to take over, and there were Nazi cartoons depicting Jews as octopuses, NRA must be antisemitic. The media picked it up, quite uncritically. "The eight-armed sea animal has been used as the Nazi representation of Jewish conspiracy and control, and was referenced by Adolf Hitler in "Mein Kampf,"" says AP.
A few minutes of research would have shown that the "octopus taking over" cartoon theme has been used by everybody to depict everybody (especially corporate and business interests), and in WWII was more often used by the Allies, with the fascists cast as the octopus.
Here, for example is a British cartoon depicting the fascist Japanese government as an octopus.
Here's an American leaflet (aimed at Japanese soldiers, and hence written in their language) that shows the Japanese hold on Taiwan as an octopus caught between FDR and Chiang Kai-Shek (translated, the message is that the alliance of China and the US will doom Japan).
And here's a wartime image showing the American eagle attacking the fascist octopus.
After the war, the octopus was used to depict the Soviets, and Stalin in particular and more recently, World Trade Organization. Here's a French cartoon that puts Bill Gate's head on a world-hugging octopus.
And in 19th century newspapers, the octopus was used to depict the liquor industry and the Southern Pacific Railroad's monopolistic plans, And in a 1904 Russian cartoon, it is used to depict British capitalists taking over Europe.
In fact, there's a website devoted to octopus propaganda, from which I got several of these images. It begins:
"Cephalopods are major figures in one of man's least noble popular enterprises: propaganda.
Despite their generally shy, retiring habits, octopus have long been used to connote villainy and dark intent. As such, they have also long been staples of propaganda illustrations....
Typically, the Enemy Octopus stands in for a nation or distinct community, and not as an individual. The octopus has been cast as Nazi, fascist, Jewish conspiracist and English imperialist. They've stood in for Antwerp, of all places. Stretch out the arms and they span the distance from 1904 Japan to 2003 internet, anti-Russian sentiment to anarchist website."
[UPDATE: I'd initially attributed this story to Violence Policy Center, based on the first report I had of it. While it sounded like VPC at the time -- they are opponents worthy of the steel, being fast and creative -- I can't find any confirmation that they were behind it, and it's quite possible that AP, while neither fast nor creative, actually came up with it on its own. I've amended the post accordingly.]
[UPDATE: chuckle. I purposely avoided the plural of octopus, because it is indeed octopods or octopodes, the work being Greek and not Latin. Not that I'm fluent in Greek, but I read it in George McDonald Fraser's hilarious novel "Pyrates," where two pirates get into an argument over the correct plural. It's one of the funnier books I have ever read, with most of the competition for that title coming from the same author.]