Monday, November 24, 2014

The Turkey Was a Racist

In an act of craven political correctness, The Indianapolis Star altered, then withdrew an allegedly “racist” or “bigoted” cartoon from its website. Yesterday, November 23rd,  the New York Times crowed:

The Indianapolis Star removed a cartoon from its website over the weekend after readers complained that the drawing was racist for depicting an immigrant family climbing through a window to crash a white family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

The newspaper should not have published the cartoon, the paper’s executive editor, Jeff Taylor, said in a statement on Saturday. The cartoon, by the artist Gary Varvel, featured a white father unhappily telling his family, “Thanks to the president’s immigration order, we’ll be having extra guests this Thanksgiving….”

“This action is not a comment on the issue of illegal immigration or a statement about Gary’s right to express his opinions strongly. We encourage and support diverse opinion,” Mr. Taylor wrote. “But the depictions in this case were inappropriate; his point could have been expressed in other ways.”

Come again? It was not a comment on the “issue of illegal immigration”? Are my eyes deceiving me? It was actually about a bar mitzvah that was being crashed by clowns? Maybe it was a psychedelic rendition of Alice in Wonderland crashing the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?

The cartoon was not about Obama nixing the Keystone Pipeline. It was about Obama’s executive order granting permanent status to five million illegal immigrants, who will be supported by American taxpayers’ expense, and eligible for most “entitlements” and privileges. That’s the father’s unspoken implication. But then, what does he know? He’s just another “stupid” American voter.

Many readers took issue with the heavy mustache worn by the immigrant father when the cartoon was posted on Friday. The mustache was later removed from the cartoon before the entire cartoon was taken down.

Mr. Taylor said that the cartoonist did not intend to be “racially insensitive” or for the cartoon to be read literally.

Oh! That troublesome, telltale moustache! Anyone wearing a bushy moustache is automatically Mexican or Central American. Ask Einstein. Or Mark Twain. Or Frederick Douglass. They were all Mexicans. And illegal immigrants, too.  Or perhaps they were secret Italian-Americans, like Jerry Colonna!

I propose other versions of that cartoon that would be equally “offensive,” perhaps even “bigoted”:

A black family’s Thanksgiving dinner invaded by Mexicans, Iraqis, or Jerry Colonna’s family.

A Muslim family’s Thanksgiving dinner invaded by whites, blacks, or Asians, with or without moustaches or hats. (The turkey, by the way, would be halal, that is, slaughtered so that it bled to death in agony, an untouchable Islamic “custom.” Also, the blonde wife would show bruises on her face from having been beaten by the husband; the daughter is absent from the table; she was honor killed a while back by the husband, wife, and her brother.)

An Asian family’s Thanksgiving dinner invaded by a black family, with or without moustaches.

A white family’s Thanksgiving dinner invaded by former Mexican president Vicente Fox and his family. (Fox would be hatless, and wearing a dinner jacket and tie; his wife would be in a gorgeous evening gown.)

An interactive cartoon that lets one choose with the click of a mouse the ethnicity of the Thanksgiving family, and the ethnicity of the invading family, and their attire. Vegetarian readers could replace the turkey with a sculpted mound of rabbit food.

A gay or transgender family’s (race optional) Thanksgiving dinner invaded by obviously wild-eyed homophobic whites (or blacks, Latinos, Asians, Iraqis, or Muslims).

A family’s Thanksgiving dinner (ethnicity, gender composition, and attire optional) being invaded by Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. The turkey on the platter could be replaced with a richly basted duck. Phil and his family were expected guests. Thus making the father’s remark about executive orders superfluous.

A family’s Thanksgiving dinner (ethnicity, gender composition, and attire optional) being invaded by American Indians (tribe optional), led by Elizabeth Warren in a pants suit and war paint.

Would anyone be able to  recognize Hitler, Josef Stalin, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gabel, or Salvador Dali without their moustaches? Perhaps,  perhaps not. It depends on your powers of observation. But the Star’s moustache issue is as bogus as a seven-cent nickel. But the Star fell for it.

It assumed that Varvel’s cartoon had the metaphysical power of “harming” or “hurting” anyone of the Latino persuasion. We've heard that one before, from Muslims.

I sent this letter to The Indianapolis Star. It says everything else I’d want to say about this issue.

Karen Ferguson, Publisher
Jeff Taylor, Senior Editor
Gary Varvel

The Indianapolis Star

Sirs, Mesdames:

I am a columnist for Rule of Reason, Capitalism Magazine, and Family Security Matters. My principal blog site is: http://ruleofreason.blogspot.com/.  My columns are picked up worldwide.

In reference to the Thanksgiving cartoon by Mr. Varvel, and the “uproar” over it, including charges that it was “racist,” I’ll be writing my own column soon on this subject.  My main point will be that I think all parties are missing the point, and that the objections to the cartoon are spurious and demonstrably politically motivated. Frankly, I fail to see that the skin color of the invading “Hispanics,” “Mexicans,” or what-have-you climbing through the window, with his family in the background, is any darker than that of the white family’s.  If there is a difference, it’s an issue of micro-measurement.  Or it’s people seeing what they want to see.

Then, the whole business of the character’s moustache is quite laughable. When I first saw the cartoon, I thought Mr. Varvel was resurrecting the ghost of Saddam Hussein in a baseball cap. Or perhaps a caricature of another Iraqi (“Bagdad Bob”?). Of Jerry Colonna, perhaps?  The last thing I’d have imagined that it was supposed to be stereotypical rendering of a Mexican or other Central American nationality. It might have been perceived as “racist” had Mr. Varvel crowned the figure with a sombrero.

But, even then, it’s an issue of freedom of speech. And of taste. Had Al Hirschfeld and other noted caricaturists of the past lived in our time, their careers would not have left the ground. Then there’s the issue of the Mohammad cartoons. I happen to have participated in the protest against the protest against Muslim objections to the cartoons by doing a rendering of a cigar-chomping Groucho Marx in a turban as Mohammad on “You Bet Your Life” (“Say the secret word and I’ll spare your neck.”).

The Star ought not to have pulled Mr. Varvel’s cartoon or fruitlessly altered it to remove the “offending” moustache. Apologizing for having published it was even worse. There is a trend towards censorship by "popular consensus" in this country and the Star's backpedaling action over that cartoon is just another instance of it.

I’ll send you a link to the column when it’s posted.

Edward Cline

Have a great Thanksgiving, folks.

2 comments:

Barbara Nelson said...

Maybe the cartoon character coming through the window should have been wearing a kaffiya holding a burka in one hand and a scimitar in the other. Oh wait - that would be islamophobia - even worse than racism...

Edward Cline said...

Barbara: I'm guilty of Islamophobia, and damned proud of it.