Anti-Trayvian cartoon in student paper sets off outrage, cartoonist is fired

Julian C. writes from New Zealand:

The revelation that NBC News falsified the audio of the 911 call reinforces the point made in a cartoon in the University of Texas student magazine. The student cartoonist has since been fired. Before she was fired, she wrote in her own defense:

“I feel the news should be unbiased. And in the retelling of this particular event, I felt that that was not the case,” Eisner said. “My story compared this situation to yellow journalism in the past, where aspects of news stories were blown out of proportion with the intention of selling papers and enticing emotions.”

LA replies:

The article in International Business Times linked by Julian describes the cartoon thus:

In the controversial illustration, a woman wearing glasses holds a story book and sits on a chair labeled “the media” as she reads to a wide eyed, open mouthed young child. The book is entitled “Treyvon Martin and The Case of Yellow Journalism,” with Trayvon’s name misspelled. The mother reads to the child “and then…the big bad white man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy.”

Beyond that, the piece is singularly uninformative. It tells us that Stephanie Eisner’s cartoon set off a huge controversy, was considered terribly offensive, and that she was ultimately dismissed from the student paper as a result. The article neglects to tell us what specifically was the firing offense. It seemed to me there were two possibilities: that the cartoon included the phrase “colored boy”; and that the cartoon sent up the anti-Zimmerman propaganda campaign.

So I went to a collection of student complaints about the cartoon. The first few of them consisted of nothing but highly emotional language about this horrible horrible cartoon which should never have seen the light of day, which is a disgrace to the University of Texas, which shows that U of T still has a long way to go, etc., but without a single indication of what was horrible about the cartoon. It was only when I read down to the pro-Eisner comments that I saw indirect references to the fact that she had been fired over the use of the word “colored.” Some said that even if she had said “black boy” instead of “colored boy,” the same outrage would have occurred.

I’m not sure. Of course, it is ridiculous (as several of the commenters point out) to be outraged over the use of “colored” when we have the National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People (indeed, on the day after Eisner was dismissed for writing “colored,” the National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People organized a march in Sanford, Florida protesting the fact that George Zimmerman has not yet been arrested.) Still, it was thoughtless of Eisner to use the word “colored.” It was also imprudent of her to use the word “boy.” That was just looking for trouble, and distracted from her main point about the Trayvon hysteria. She should have had the woman in the cartoon say something like, “and then the big bad white man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent young black man.” Then she would have avoided the controversy and her firing … unless the U of T community had become outraged at her simply for making fun of the Trayvon hysteria.

Julian replies:
I agree that the use of the word “colored” and “boy” was unwise and distracted from her point. Judging by this article, the editors caved in to a group of minority agitators so I suspect she would have been pressured to go in any case.

LA replies:

From the linked article, at The Digital Texan:

The editorial board went into a closed door meeting after the protest. When they emerged, they issued an apology for the cartoon and then vaguely confessed to what amounts to institutional racism at the paper.

“We made a mistake, and we understand that the outcome of our action extends beyond Tuesday’s cartoon and prompts us to reflect on a larger problem that persists at The Daily Texan and on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, something we should have done before Tuesday’s paper ran.”

If racism has persisted at The Daily Texan, how come no one else at the paper was fired? How come no one else is being held responsible for these perceived racial transgressions?

That is really interesting. The phrase “a larger problem that persists at the Daily Texan and on the campus of the University of Texas as Austin” is plainly a reference to the charges by nonwhite students that the paper and the university as a whole are rife with “institutional racism,” as is discussed elsewhere in the article. Given that the editors were so whipped that they made such a sweeping confession, going well beyond the matter of Eisner’s cartoon, it seems likely that they would have ultimately bowed to any minority protest against the cartoon, even if it had said “black boy” or even “young black man” instead of “colored boy.”

April 2

Lydia McGrew writes:

Some commentators have suggested that not only the word “colored” but also the word “boy” contributed to Eisner’s being fired. But isn’t “boy” part of the whole myth of Trayvon? Wasn’t it, along with the word “innocent,” making her point that he is being portrayed as an innocent child killed by the Big Bad Wolf? So I don’t see how Eisner could have made her point as well without using “boy” (unless she used “child,” but that would have been gender-neutral and less specific), nor how there can be any gripe against the word “boy” from the very establishment that has gone on ad nauseam about how young Trayvon was.

LA replies:

I think the liberal media never use the word “boy” in reference to a black boy.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 01, 2012 01:50 PM | Send

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