You’ve probably never heard of right-wing guerrilla artist ‘Sabo’ before, but you may be familiar with his work in the form of his tattooed Ted Cruz posters or horribly sexist Wendy Davis ‘Abortion Barbie’ ads that cropped up prior to the midterm elections. Sabo, who previously blurred out his face in photographs to remain anonymous, spends his time creating propaganda for the establishment. But judging by his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (“CPAC”), he thinks of himself as a true rebel. Shepard Fairey? Banksy? Mere liberal tools who are “in the south of France, circle-jerking each other from the money they make selling anti-capitalism art.” As Sabo put it, “We are the rebellion. I ask that you join us. I ask that you support us.” “Rebellion” in this case being racist caricatures, racial and sexual slurs, overt misogyny and Nazi imagery.
Here are some of Sabo’s greatest hits*:
1. “April 15th Pimp”
One of the popular racist memes about President Obama is one which depicts him as a stereotypical pimp. Former New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino infamously forwarded (among other things) a photo which depicted President Obama as a blaxploitation pimp and Michelle Obama as a prostitute.
According to Sabo, the inspiration for the piece came from “a speech by Our Great Great Leader, Dip Shit” in which he said “something to the effect of, ‘I have to get the American people back to work so they can start paying their taxes.'” “It’s like he thinks he’s our pimp, we’re his hoes, and April 15th is when he rolls up and pimp slaps us for ‘HIS MONEY!'”
Sabo dabbles in Islamophobia too. Feigning concern for the rights of women, some of his street art includes painting face coverings onto photos of women. “Hollywood insists I embrace the muslim faith well ok,” said Sabo. “I’ll embrace it by painting nijabs on the faces of the starlets on their movie posters.”
His reason behind this campaign was the supposed hypocrisy of liberals who “spent the past hand full of decades dragging Christians through the mud because of their belief in God” while supporting “a religion more behind the times than any Christian church.”
3. “F*g is the New N*gger”
A truly revolting piece of stencil work, Sabo claims he got the idea from something he heard a gay man say before. That is, if you can believe him. And even if you can, that doesn’t give him the right to use racist and homophobic slurs with abandon. I’d inquire as to whether or not the CPAC organizers knew about this garbage, but seeing as though they booked a White Nationalist (again), I’d say it isn’t one of their top concerns.
4. “Big Brutha”
Exactly as racist as it looks and sounds. This faux-Ebonics parody of a 1984 propaganda poster was a reaction to the NSA’s PRISM program. Like the anti-Muslim artwork, I’d be surprised if Sabo actually cared about the issue at hand rather than just using the domestic spying scandal to score points against Democratic leaders.
So while Sabo complained that “Nixon bugged an office, Obama bugged the world,” the PRISM program actually began under President George W. Bush. I get the feeling that if the current president were a Republican, we’d be getting a very different art piece.
5. “Abortion Barbie”
Following Wendy Davis’ 2013 filibuster of former governor Rick Perry’s draconian omnibus anti-abortion bill, she became known as a champion of reproductive rights in left-wing circles, and a villain to the religious right. RedState’s Erick Erickson, who once called Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat fucking child molester,” mocked Davis as “Abortion Barbie” and joked that liberal women should stock up on coat hangers.
Perhaps it was this that inspired Sabo’s infamous “Abortion Barbie” piece which was plastered around LA in 2014. Ostensibly seizing on the loony myth that abortion providers target black babies, Sabo wrote that his original idea was “of this huge pair of scissors coming down on a black fetus that I was going to cut from this 2001 looking monolith piece of foam core I have sitting in my living room.” Eventually he opted for the Barbie design, displaying the children’s doll with a fetus in its abdomen and Davis’ face superimposed over the original. A black baby sits next to the Barbie doll with a pair of scissors dangling above it for good measure.
6. “The Gayfather”
This piece takes on the right’s insidious “homosexual lobby” bogeyman and combines it with a parody of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. 2014’s resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich (as well as lawsuits against photographers, bakers, and florists who’ve refused service to gay and lesbian couples) breathed new life into the “gay mafia” meme.
Even quasi-liberal comedian Bill Maher said that if you cross “them” you “get whacked.” Or, as Sabo put it, “the Gay Lobby goes after those who don’t agree with their life style,” often seeking to have them fired. “Cross the Gay Mafia and they will pop a cock in your ass!”
7. “Cult of Personality”
Tea Partiers have often made ridiculous comparisons between Obama and Hitler. In fact, it’s so commonplace that one writer at Slate compiled a list of his favorite examples. So it’s no wonder that Sabo would turn a violation of Godwin’s law into an artistic achievement. Taking the design from Nazi-era flags, Sabo simply switched out the swastika image for that of Barack Obama’s ‘O’ logo. “Not since Hilter [sic] has a politician so successfully used a logo or icon to represent his movement,” said Sabo, “so I replaced the swastika with Obama’s ‘O’ rising sun logo. HEIL OBAMA!!!”
For many, comparisons between anyone and Adolf Hitler is insulting and insensitive to those who died in the Holocaust. In fact, Sabo writes about one such encounter with a “little jewish [sic] hipster” whose grandfather survived the Nazis’ extermination. “My first thought was, ‘Piss off!’ but I managed to contain myself enough to engage him. I told him this,’The problem with placing Hitler on some ‘ultimate evil pedestal’ is a dangerous thing to do because in doing so you’ve created the impression that such an evil could never be reached by any other politician again.'” The flags were thus intended to serve as a reminder”that evil did and does exist.” Frustrated, Sabo’s critic walked away, and he ends his tale by sanctimoniously declaring: “That Jew forgot.”
8. “My Political Worth”
Another trope on the far right is that is that they’re really, truly not racist, no matter what you hear. To be sure, many are not. Yet plenty of them engage in racist dog-whistles (e.g. Obama is the “food stamp president”), have ties to white supremacists, and embrace policies which disproportionately harm people of color. That said, the corollary is that African-Americans are the real racists for always discussing race — what is known as “playing the race card” — and for casting a vote for America’s first black president.
Sabo joins the chorus of rightwingers who declared the overwhelming support for Obama on behalf of the black community (and guilty white liberals) to be “racist.” In a piece called “My Political Worth” he depicts Obama proudly standing with a blade in one hand and his sliced off flesh in the other. Phrases such as “BIGOTS VOTED FOR BLACK SKIN” and “DRONE KING” are scrawled in marker next to it. On his website Sabo wrote, “If you voted for Obama because you wanted to be a part of history by voting for the first black President then you are not only an idiot who is too stupid to vote, you are a bigot.”
It wouldn’t be right-wing art without good, old-fashioned, McCarthy-era red-baiting, now would it? There isn’t a whole lot to say about this piece except 1) Sabo really hates Hillary Clinton and 2) believes her to be a Communist for some reason.
Or, to be more precise, Sabo believes her to be “our Communist Darling, Feminist High Mistress.” And if I’m being completely honest, that’s a pretty kickass title to have.
10. “Breitbart California Launch”
The poster that made Sabo a darling of the right was one that was commissioned on behalf of Breitbart.com for last year’s launch of ‘Breitbart California’. It’s comical portrayal of Governor Jerry Brown as a body builder was innocuous enough, but it was the depiction of a scantily clad Nancy Pelosi, tongue lolling and body bent over in a Miley Cyrus-esque twerking pose that was immediately declared sexist by both sides of the aisle.
DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called it “foul, offensive, and disrespectful to all women” as well as “a disgusting new low” for Republicans. Pelosi herself called it “tasteless.” Even Fox News host Howard Kurtz condemned the poster, saying that it was “pretty low” before concluding that “people on the right and the left should denounce this kind of ugliness.” When you’ve lost Fox News over your misogyny, you know you’ve gone too far.
*Unless stated otherwise, all art piece images were taken directly from Sabo’s personal website UNSAVORYAGENTS.
UPDATE: I neglected to mention that he enjoys talking about the “problem with Jews”:
THE PROBLEM WITH JEWS IS THAT THEY HAVE THIS TOGGLE SWITCH. THIS SELF DESTRUCT TOGGLE SWITCH THAT LAYS DORMANT WITHIN THEIR GENETIC CODE.
He also called black musician Questlove a “monkey”: