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.