Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Civil Rights Official Praises and Criticizes Cartoonists

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Civil Rights Official Praises and Criticizes Cartoonists

Article excerpt

WHILE MANY POLITICIANS these days seem to think discrimination is dead or not worth worrying about, plenty of editorial cartoonists believe otherwise.

They were thanked for that by Deval Patrick, assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

"I see many of you 'get it,'" Patrick told attendees at the recent Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) convention in Baltimore. "You really do stir the waters. Cartoonists have ventured to talk about race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.... I hope you will continue to go after people who divide to score political points."

He added, "Humor, as you know better than most of us, can be and is a powerful teaching tool."

Unfortunately, said Patrick, many politicians don't "get it."

"They see a quota in every affirmative action program like a child sees a monster in every closet," he stated. "But quotas and affirmative action are different. And civil rights is about so much more than affirmative action. It's about assuring everybody a fair chance. Racism and other discrimination still exist."

The speaker also aimed some criticism at editorial cartoonists, noting that the overwhelming majority of them are white males.

"You have fewer women and African Americans doing cartoons for newspapers than there are in the U.S. Senate," Patrick observed. "Diversity matters simply because it can broaden perspective."

Patrick, who spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Arizona Republic, was introduced by editorial cartoonist Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

Another speaker with some thoughts about editorial cartooning was Tom Clancy, the author of best-sellers such as Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Hunt for Red October.

"Humor is a deadly weapon," Clancy told the AAEC audience. "You have the ability to stick it to people who need to have it stuck to them."

He added that editorial cartoonists are able to do this in a very concise way.

Turning to more general topics, Clancy said former President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet Union, which the author called an "evil system."

Clancy, who spoke at a banquet sponsored by the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer, was introduced by Arlington, Va. …

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