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Letter: Editorial cartoon fostered division

Mary Vermillion

I wish The Gazette had not published Mike Lester’s political cartoon in the Saturday, Sept. 24, edition.

The cartoonist probably intended to imply that President Barack Obama is “soft” on terrorism. The top panel features the suspected NY/NJ bomber, Ahmad Rahami, with an NYPD officer who is phoning Obama and saying, “He says it’s a “clock”.” The bottom panel features Obama with Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old boy who was wrongly arrested when he made a clock and brought it to school. Obama says to the officer, “Really? Ask him if he’d like to have lunch at the White House.”

I found this cartoon disturbing not because it makes fun of the president — that is what political cartoons do — but because it endorses Islamophobia. The cartoon seems to imply that if you see Muslims as individuals and honor their contributions, then you’re aiding terrorists.

This hateful message is poisoning the election cycle, so although I value free speech, I believe The Gazette could have done us all a favor by refusing to publish this particular cartoon. I was so heartened by the stories about Cedar Rapids community members pulling together to battle the flood and thus all the more dismayed to see a cartoon that fosters prejudice and division.

Mary Vermillion

Iowa City

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