The Indianapolis Star is doing damage control today after publishing a political cartoon that some believe to be racist and insensitive.
On Friday, the newspaper published a cartoon on their website created by Gary Varvel that depicted a family sitting down for their Thanksgiving as an immigrant family climbed through their window and into their home. The Latino family, lead by a mustached man, appears happy as the homeowner says, “Thanks to the president's immigration order, we'll be having extra guests this Thanksgiving.”
People online immediately began to blast the publication for the cartoon and called it racist, so the editors decided to publish an amended version in which the immigrant family’s patriarch did not have a mustache, which seems to be an attempt to take the Mexican stereotype out of the cartoon. Still, nobody seemed to buy it, and as both cartoons spread, more and more people became outraged.
Finally, on Saturday, the Indianapolis Star took down the cartoon, and the paper’s executive editor Jeff Taylor wrote a piece acknowledging their mistake in publishing it to begin with.
“On Friday, we posted a Gary Varvel cartoon at indystar.com that offended a wide group of readers,” wrote Taylor. “Many of them labeled it as racist. 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. But we erred in publishing it.”
“The cartoon depicted an immigrant family climbing through a window of a white family's home as Thanksgiving dinner was served I was uncomfortable with the depiction when I saw it after it was posted,” admitted Taylor. “We initially decided to leave the cartoon posted to allow readers to comment and because material can never truly be eliminated once it is circulating on the web. But we are removing the cartoon from the opinion section of our website, as well as an earlier version posted on Facebook that showed one character with a mustache.”
Taylor went on to express that Varvel did not intend for the cartoon to be perceived as racist and that he was only trying to express his views on one of the biggest news items in the nation right now. Still, the explanation doesn’t seem to be helping, as the cartoon is still circulating all over the net.
Was the Indianapolis Star right to publish the cartoon in the first place?