More On The Andrew Yang “Racist” Cartoon: Some Perspective From The Ethics Alarms Archives…

In contrast to the political cartoon discussed in the previous post, THIS is a racist cartoon. Below is the Ethics Alarms post from 2014 titled, 9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s ‘Racist’ Cartoon”:

1. I’m adding this new #1 right at the beginning—there were originally only 8 observations—because some of the early comments suggest that I over-estimated some of my readers’ scholarship, historical knowledge and/or sensitivity on this issue, so let me be direct:  the reference to any African- American having an affinity to watermelon is about a half-step from calling him or her a nigger, and maybe even closer than that. Clear? This is not a political correctness matter. If the reference is intentional, there can be no debate over whether it is racist or not. It is. The President of the United States should not be subjected to intentional racial slurs.

2. I’m amazed—I just don’t know how this could happen. How could this cartoon make it into print? Cartoonist Jerry Holbert explained that he came up with the idea to use watermelon flavor after finding “kids Colgate watermelon flavor” toothpaste in his bathroom at home. “I was completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations,” Holbert said. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all.” Is this possible? In a political cartoonist? On one hand, since the racial connotation is so obvious and so predictably offensive, it seems incredible that a cartoonist for a major daily would dare offer such a cartoon unless he really didn’t perceive the racial stereotype it referenced. On the other, the man is a political cartoonist, not a Japanese soldier who’s been hiding in a cave for decades. How could he not know this? How could his ethics alarms, racial slur alarms, survival alarms not go off?

I don’t get it.

3. Hence the quotes around “racist.” The only way the cartoon makes any sense to me is if Holbert is amazingly, wonderfully non-racist, and completely color blind. The flavor of the toothpaste is innocuous if one doesn’t think in racial terms at all. Maybe he just thinks about the President as the President. If so, isn’t that terrific? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was like that? Wouldn’t it be swell if a dumb detail like the flavor of the toothpaste in a cartoon that has nothing to do with race OR toothpaste wasn’t even noticed?

Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s ‘Racist’ Cartoon”

cartooning

In my post on the matter, I called out to Barry Deutsch, a.k.a. Ampersand, an accomplished political cartoonist and blogger who has graced this space in the past, for his professional reaction to the controversy over the Boston Herald’s Jerry Holbert suggesting, in a cartoon about the recent Secret Service debacles, that President Obama would use watermelon-flavored tooth paste. He was kind enough to register a rapid, and typically thoughtful, response.

Here is his Comment of the Day on my post, “9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s “Racist” Cartoon”: Continue reading

9 Observations On The Boston Herald’s “Racist” Cartoon

Obama-Watermelon-1

1. (UPDATE) I’m adding this new #1 right at the beginning—there were originally only 8 observations—because some of the early comments suggest that I over-estimated some of my readers’ scholarship, historical knowledge and/or sensitivity on this issue, so let me be direct:  the reference to any African- American having as affinity to watermelon is about a half-step from calling him or her a nigger, and maybe even closer than that. Clear? This is not a political correctness matter. If the reference is intentional, there can be no debate over whether it is racist or not. It is. The President of the United States should not be subjected to intentional racial slurs.

2. I’m amazed—I just don’t know how this could happen. How could this cartoon make it into print? Cartoonist Jerry Holbert explained that he came up with the idea to use watermelon flavor after finding “kids Colgate watermelon flavor” toothpaste in his bathroom at home. “I was completely naive or innocent to any racial connotations,” Holbert said. “I wasn’t thinking along those lines at all.” Is this possible? In a political cartoonist? On one hand, since the racial connotation is so obvious and so predictably offensive, it seems incredible that a cartoonist for a major daily would dare offer such a cartoon unless he really didn’t perceive the racial stereotype it referenced. On the other, the man is a political cartoonist, not a Japanese soldier who’s been hiding in a cave for decades. How could he not know this? How could his ethics alarms, racial slur alarms, survival alarms not go off?

I don’t get it. Continue reading

Abuse of Power and Press Intimidation At The White House

"Hey, Herald! Get with the program!"

In response to a complaint by the Boston Herald about the limited access its staff would have to President Obama during his visit to Boston,  Matt Lehrich, an Obama aide, attributed the treatment to the White House’s objections to a front page opinion article by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in which he attacked the administration’s job-creation record. “I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the president’s visits,”  Lehrich told the Herald in an email.

And maybe it does. Then again, there is a mountain of evidence that hundreds of media outlets, including four of the five major TV news organizations, the New York Times, The Washington Post, and many others, are also biased in their coverage of everything this president does–favorably. Apparently the White House, which has already disgraced itself by repeatedly attacking the one critical network by name for the state offense of not falling into line, can’t abide the fact that some print journalists are as prone to be critical of him as Chris Matthews is likely to get tingles up his leg every time Obama opens his mouth. Their response? Make it harder for the unfavorably biased journalists to cover the news. Continue reading

Basketball Ethics: A Writer Advocates Violence on the Court

To the credit of the Boston Celtics and their coaching staff, the team won its N.B.A. semi-final series against the Orlando Magic without resorting to thuggery. That is because they ignored the advice of Boston Herald sportswriter Ron Borges, who wrote a column in Friday’s edition urging the team to physically assault, and conceivably injure, the Magic’s on-court enforcer, Dwight Howard.

No doubt about it: Howard is a very dirty player, and in the relaxed enforcement atmosphere that the N.B.A. allows its refs to adopt during the play-offs, he had gone beyond dirty to abusive. Borges’ recommendation? Mug him. Hurt him. Continue reading