On February 7, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal published on its editorial page a political cartoon by syndicated cartoonist Sean Delonas who is with CagleCartoons.com.
The cartoon depicts an apparently frightened white couple holding their hands up while being robbed by two MS-13 gang members pointing a gun at them.
The cartoon also depicts a third person appearing to be a terrorist strapped with sticks of dynamite with lighted fuses, and holding a bloody machete with the barrel of a rifle pointing down from the back.
MS-13 is an international criminal gang with members primarily from Central America or of Mexican or Latin decent.
The man is quoted telling his wife: “Now Honey … I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ … or future Democrats …”
“Dreamers” as many people know are young adults born in other countries and brought to the United States as children without documentation, typically by family members, and who only know the United States as their home.
The cartoon is essentially portraying “dreamers” as mugging gangsters who want to rob white people or terrorist who want to kill them by committing suicide or killing them with a machete.
Delonis is no stranger to controversy.
In 2009, media magnet Rupert Murdoch issued a personal apology for a Delonis cartoon of a chimpanzee that was interpreted by many observers as President Barack Obama.
There is an estimated 2 million “dreamers” who have grown up in the United States and who will be deported if the United State Congress does not pass a version of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act).
The DREAM Act is a multi-phase process for qualifying alien minors in the United States that would first grant conditional residency and, upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency and perhaps citizenship.
President Donald Trump has also withdrawn the Obama Executive Order that prevented dreamers from being deported and the US Congress is struggling passing the DREAM ACT.
The editorial cartoon came under fire from Journal readers and both of New Mexico’s U.S. senators and one New Mexico State Senator.
The cartoon was criticized as being “misguided”, “bigoted”, and described as an example of “ignorance, racism and hatred”.
Some readers have defended the cartoon as legitimate political commentary.
On February 8, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal published a very lengthy story on the reactions to the cartoon and giving an explanation why it was published.
(February 8, 2018 Albuquerque Journal, page A-9, Metro & NM Section, “Editorial cartoon sparks controversy; Item on Journal page called ‘misguided’, ‘bigoted”)
It is indeed a sad state of affairs when the Albuquerque Journal finds itself having to publish an article with a lengthy explanation and rationale on why it published a political cartoon from a nationally syndicated cartoonist with no ties nor understanding of New Mexico.
For close to 35 years, John Trever was the political cartoonist for the Albuquerque Journal, is retired, and was nationally recognized as one of the best political cartoonist in the United States.
Trever, being from here, has a clear understanding of New Mexico and its people.
Being a Journal subscriber for over 35 years, I cannot recall anyone of John Trever’s cartoons ever generating the level of criticism as has the Sean Delonas cartoon .
Under the United States Constitution First Amendment guarantee of free speech and of the press, the Albuquerque Journal had every right to publish the cartoon, but that does not mean it should have published it.
In describing the Journal’s rationale for choosing to publish the cartoon, Editorial Page Editor D’Val Westphal said “the mission of an editorial page is to explore all sides of an issue, to make people think and debate and examine closely the opposing view of an argument. Unfortunately, this cartoon did not inspire that kind of discussion.”
When you have the constitutional right to publish or say something it also means it will reflect on what you believe and your real motives.
Publishing the cartoon is evidence that the Albuquerque Journal has lost touch or does not understand, if it ever did, the community and state it reports on.
The Albuquerque Journal’s rational for the cartoon rings hollow on a number of levels.
The fact that two United States Senators and one State Senator condemned the cartoon speaks volumes as to why the Albuquerque Journal felt it needed to explain its rationale.
I have heard many people say that the Albuquerque Journal has contempt or hatred for the very community and state it reports on, and the cartoon is evidence of that fact.