The first thing that I noticed about this page was how empty and quiet it felt. The second, immediately after the first, was the violence in the image: scars on buildings and buses, broken windows, trails of smoke, and the remnants of a fight on the pavement. The third thing I noticed was the caption draped across the page, reading: “My country ‘tis of thee.”
Lacking a border, the bottom image overtakes the whole page, its sky bleeding into the background behind the two top panels. The size of the bottom image, the way that the sky takes over the page, and the lack of human figures give it that still, empty feeling. This is especially true in contrast to the top images which depict a crowd of people and a man with a smoking gun.
Beyond the stillness, not only is the subject matter of the image violent (smashed windows, smoke, and all) but the angle of the image and the artist’s style communicate violence too. As the reader, my view of the image is framed by the top of a wrecked car at a crazy, unnatural angle, almost as if I were peering out from a hiding place. The unknown heaps I see before me on the pavement are merely sketched in with a few random squiggles and some shading. This stylistic choice communicates the shock of violence better than clearer drawings would, because the reader knows from the text above that there are no deaths, but the muffled heaps look like corpses at first glance. The billowing smoke and smudgy details along the right edge give the impression that the chaos continues––and maybe worsens––for all imaginable distance.
In sharp contrast, the text box moves brightly across the page like a flag, waving patriotically o’r the homeland. This cheerful flow and nationalistic words written in curly script––with “y’s” that look like something out of a Walt Disney movie, belie the image above.
After looking at the page, I was left feeling very cynical about America and U.S. patriotism. The patriotic version of America is calm and beautiful and proud. It’s the America of Walt Disney and the Star Spangled Banner and fancy cars. The way we like to see ourselves stands in sharp contrast to what we were in the moment depicted here: a legacy of racism erupting into violence and destroying everything in its way.