Respect for Capp, or: Even L’il Abner Saw It

Exerpt From The Forward By Al Capp To “The Best of L’il Abner, 1978

I had grown up in days when anybody who ate regularly (the upper class) felt no responsiblilty for the poor souls who didn’t, and helped them only out of human kindness. A I grew into the middle class, I became a liberal. We demanded that the unfortunate be given welfare, that their rent be paid, and that they be given food benefits. We fought for all that, and slowly, painfully, we won. It was marvelous being a liberal in those days, because you were on the side of humanity.
What began to bother me, privately, was that, as things grew better, the empire of the needy seemed to grow larger. Somehow, they became entitled to government gifts other people couldn’t get, such as people who worked. Yet, I remained a loyal liberal. I lived in Cambridge Massachusetts, the home of liberalism. I spoke at liberal banquets in New York, Los Angeles, Washington. One day a lady photographer came to my studio and showed me a collection of Boston photographs. A publisher would publish them only if I would rattle off the captions. She had brought a tape recorder. Well, one doesn’t turn down a lady liberal. The pictures were funny. My captions tried to be. And then we came to the last one. This one, she said, will break your heart. She showed me a picture of a city street. It was mid-afternoon, the sun was shining. Garbage cans were tipped on the sidewalk. Bottles lined the gutters. On a porch sprawled a half dozen teenager, drinking and smoking. The caption, I said, should be “Get up off your asses and clean up the street!” The lady stormed out. I guess that was when I began leaving what liberalism had become.


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