This political cartoon uses the statue of liberty as a way to comment on the NSA scandal. In the cartoon, Lady Liberty has swapped her torch for antennas and her tablet for a book of phone records. Two tourists look on, perplexed and, in the case of the woman, unnerved by the change. In this cartoon, the statue of liberty easily stands in for the values of the nation. It’s such a quick association for us that the cartoon is very easy to read. The cartoonist, by juxtaposing the discarded torch in the image with the surveillance tools the statue is outfitted with, shows the concern most Americans have been feeling over the trend towards diminished privacy– or diminished personal liberty, to really make the connection obvious. The cartoon shows a discomfort with the gap between what our government considers to be a reasonable amount of privacy, and the level of privacy and personal liberty that citizens expect. The statue of liberty is so often invoked as a physical representation of the best of our nation, so using it here as a tool for monitoring citizens is a simple way to show the disconnect between the kind of rhetoric we’re used to about freedom, and what freedom really means to our government, especially in the digital age.
In addition to the statue, the reactions of the tourists are important. One seems to be relatively unaffected by the change. He’s curious, but doesn’t seem to have understood the full impact of the situation– he still wants to google it, after all. The woman, on the other hand, is much more cautious, and expresses the opinion of the cartoonist better, I think. Ultimately, this cartoon shows a distrust for the government, and clearly communicates this by manipulating a well known American icon. How can we trust anyone when even the Statue of Liberty is listening in?