Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Friday, November 28, 2014

Racially Provocative Cartoon Makes Fun of Latinos

Mean-spirited cartoon of brown people spoiling white people's Thanksgiving:

This past Friday (11/21/2014), The Indianapolis Star published the cartoon seen at left, which depicted a family of apparently Latino immigrants, led by a mustachioed man, climbing in the window of a white family's home to join in their Thanksgiving dinner. The white father is telling his family, "Thanks to the president's immigration order, we'll be having extra guests this Thanksgiving."

 After readers alerted them to the drawing's racist overtones, cartoonist Gary Varvel and the Star rectified the situation by... publishing a tweaked version of the cartoon in which the Latino man's mustache had been removed.

Problem solved? Not quite. In addition to the racially charged imagery of brown people climbing over a wall into some white people's home -- as well as the look of dismay on the blond daughter, which seems to gesture toward the age-old racist trope that people of color are a menace to white girls --

Vox points out that Varvel's cartoon appears to forget the actual history behind Thanksgiving itself:

 Remember, the classic Thanksgiving story is about Pilgrims -- a.k.a. immigrants -- who showed up on American shores uninvited, and in precarious economic circumstances. Thanksgiving is a celebration of the fact that the native-born Americans who lived in the area welcomed these newcomers, shared their food with them, and helped them make the transition to their new home.

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

Taylor also wrote that "Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive in his attempt to express his strong views about President Barack Obama's decision to temporarily prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States." Nonetheless, Taylor wrote, "we erred in publishing" the cartoon.

Writing for New York Magazine, Caroline Bankoff wrote, "Thanksgiving, which celebrates the generosity this country's original inhabitants showed to the undocumented immigrants who landed on their shores in 1620. Unfortunately, the connection was lost on Gary Varvel, an Indianapolis Star cartoonist who doesn't seem to like the idea of sharing anything with people who do not look like him."

So Gary Varvel did not intend to be racially insensitive by drawing a stupid, racially charged cartoon that makes Latinos look like interlopers on white people's Thanksgiving? Varvel is apparently unaware of our American history and the fact that Native Americans, people of color, helped undocumented Pilgrims survive and make it through that first horrendous winter of 1620-21.  But people like Varvel are too eager to turn us against each other.  Nice going Gary.  Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. And don't forget to thank your god for the Native Americans, who helped the Pilgrims survive.


Honesty at Large said...

Is America becoming anal?

Shaw Kenawe said...


So criticizing making fun of immigrants is "becoming anal?"

Funny. I see it differently. I see rejecting stereotypes and slander of entire groups of people as becoming grown-up.

I remember being in grade school and seeing schoolyard bullies make fun of people who were not like them, mostly people of color.

Actually, that sort of behavior has a lot to do with being an aperture in one's anal region.

Jerry Critter said...

What do you want to bet that Varvel and the Indianapolis Star are very conservative and appeal the Republican rightwing nuts.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I won't bet, Jerry, because I know you're correct. Why else did the cartoon make it into the paper without red flags going up?

Why? Because those sort of people think it's funny to marginalize groups of people who don't look like them.

Happily, their days of nasty stereotyping are coming to an end.

Honesty at Large said...

Exactly. Fixation on color will preclude humans from ever becoming color blind.

None of this would matter if we were blind.

Anonymous said...

Ben Carson: Race Relations Are Worse Under Obama

This is just one reason why Carson will never be president. He's a race baiter. PLus, knows nothing about politics, but a lot about pandering to the crazies in the GOP base. Well-named: "base."

Shaw Kenawe said...


That has nothing to do with the cartoon.

To dismiss the fact that we are a racist nation by blaming everything on being "fixated," is to not understand the underpinnings of the long racial history of this country.


Carson's brand of racism doesn't bother his base.

Honesty at Large said...

Well, not exactly. Nothing was missed, nothing discounted. Neither is there argument with your observations.

People are tribal. Have always been. Will probably always be.

More people ought to understand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Gandi too.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"More people ought to understand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Gandi too."

Most people are too lazy or too invested in their bigotry to do that.

However, I am optimistic about Millennials on these matters.

Ducky's here said...

From today's digby. Apparently Republicans are tired of all the immature posturing around the immigration order.

"Politico reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to “address” their disgust over Obama’s immigration policy, and “GOP aides and lawmakers” are considering the idea of “refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address.”

Late last week, Breitbart News also ran a piece of its own on the subject: “Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his ‘executive amnesty’ remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.”"

That's what we need, more immature expressions of "Republican disgust". I wonder if this moves beyond the Cruz/Gohmert wing of the party.

Shaw Kenawe said...

“Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his ‘executive amnesty’ remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.”

The "gesture" would, no doubt, be perceived, not just in the U.S., but all over the world, as another racist tactic to put this president "in his place."

The more we hear about these petulant wingnuts' anger, the more we're convinced they're little more than 19th century crybabies, still enraged over the fact that certain Americans were emancipated and given the right to vote.

Amnesty? No. What Obama did was give these people deportation deferments. But the base is too dumb to understand that subtlety (or as one of their brainer fans would spell it: suttile-ty).

Alberto M. said...

"This Thanksgiving ... weekend, I give thanks that no one but the suspect is injured or deceased," Austin Texas Police Chief Art Acevedo said. "That's something that we should all take a lot of comfort in."
Acevedo didn't name the shooter but described him as a male Austin resident about 50 years old who had a criminal history.

Authorities have not offered a motive, but the police chief said that the shooter's "violent anti-government behavior" -- as evidenced by attacking buildings that belong to Mexico's government, the U.S. government and, in the police headquarters, the city government -- may have come from ongoing and often vitriolic debates in society.
"Our political discourse has become very heated and sometimes very angry, and sometimes the rhetoric is not healthy," Acevedo said, adding that the divisive immigration debate "comes to mind," given that the federal courthouse and Mexican Consulate were targeted. "... I would venture, based on my training and experience, that the political rhetoric might have fed into some of this."

Thank U.S. wingnut anti-immigrationists.