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Racism Revisited

Last week I wrote a column, which highlighted a cartoon drawn by Jeff Danziger.  Evidently, my comments concerning the cartoon angered Mr. Danzigerr.

Mr. Danziger drew a cartoon of Dr. Rice in 1800's stereotypical fashion, sitting barefoot, in a rocking chair, wearing a long dress and bottle-feeding an aluminum tube cradled in her arms.  The aluminum tubes depicted in the cartoon symbolize tubes used by Iraq in their nuclear weapons programs.  The caption in the cartoon reads, “I knows all about aluminum tubes.”  Below the first caption Mr. Danziger writes, “I don't know nuthin’ about aluminum tubes..."

I was rather hard on Mr. Danziger calling him a racist with the mental capacity of learning disabled ant.  My guess is that most who saw the cartoon came to the same conclusion.  However, I'm sure there are some members of the Ku Klux Klan and Skin Heads around the world who applauded Mr. Danziger's cartoon.

Mr. Danziger took offense and was angered by my column.  In all fairness, I think my statements in last week’s column were rather tame; after all, I deleted my theory that Danziger is related to ex-KKK member Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia.

Mr. Danziger, who has been taking heat from fellow conservatives this past week, sent me a long email explaining that:

"The cartoon in question did indeed show Ms. Rice in the role of Prissy from the classic film "Gone with the Wind". I have indeed apologized for the use of that imagery. The film itself was full of racist stereotypes since it was made in 1937 and was intended to amuse white viewers. But the instances in the movie are so ingrained in American culture, and indeed world culture, that I used it without full thought. I draw several hundred cartoons a year and this one was an error. Except for the right-wing bloggers in this country, seeking to score some points about liberal racism, the cartoon was unpublished, and was withdrawn by me."

Mr. Danziger makes the case that his drawing was a mistake.  Yes, he drew it, but once people complained about the cartoons racist appearance, he took it off his website and it was not published in any newspaper.  No harm, no foul.  The right-wing bloggers who published the cartoon on the Internet are the problem.  Therefore, in his mind he is off the hook.

Problem is:  The drawing may have been a mistake but he drew it and it found its way into the media.  And even worse:  I'm sure Dr. Rice saw the cartoon.  How do you think she felt about the cartoon?  For some reason I still do not think Danziger understands the damage that occurred just drawing the cartoon.  The fact that the cartoon was not published is irrelevant.  But then again, that is liberal thinking, blame everyone except ones self.

Responding to Mr. Danziger emails about his mistake, I suddenly felt like I was lecturing my 12-year-old son about throwing a rock through our kitchen window.  When I asked my son why he broke the window he said, "Sorry Dad, I didn't mean to break it.  It was a mistake, I only meant to rattle the window and scare Mom."  Sure, my son did not mean to break the window; he only meant to scare my wife in the kitchen.  Still the window was broken and he had to be a man and take responsibility for his actions. I think Mr. Danziger should do the same.

After our lengthy email exchange and reviewing his cartoons of the past two years, I have reached the conclusion that Mr. Danziger is not a racist.  He is just a very liberal political cartoonist who made an unfortunate mistake.  If not for the Internet his cartoon would only be an inside joke between himself and the liberal editor at the New York Times.

I really do not think he meant any harm to Dr. Rice, but let his burning hatred for President Bush and the war with Iraq overcome his common sense.  We all make mistakes and I think everyone should forgive him for this mistake.  Nevertheless, I really can't blame Dr. Rice if she does not forgive and forget.

I hope Mr. Danziger will reflect on this unfortunate episode in his life the next time a conservative happens to make a similar mistake. After all, he was very hard on Trent Lott for his comments at Strom Thurman’s retirement party a couple years ago.

I guess conservatives can be labeled as racists for one simple mistake, but liberals get off the hook with one simple apology.
 
Steve Darnell

Send comments to steve_darnell@yahoo.com , especially if you think an apology is appropriate.

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