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Newspaper Cartoon of Sotomayor Called Racist

Friday Jun 5, 2009
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Some Hispanics and advocates for women are criticizing an editorial cartoon that depicts Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as a strung-up pinata that President Barack Obama is inviting Republicans to whack.

The cartoon by Chip Bok of Creators Syndicate ran in The Oklahoman on Tuesday. It shows Obama wearing a sombrero and saying ’’Now, who wants to be first?’’ to a group of elephants in suits holding sticks. The underline says, ’’Fiesta Time At The Confirmation Hearing.’’

Jean Warner, chair of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, said there was nothing funny about the image.

’’Here’s a woman wearing a judge’s robes and she’s about to get the crap beaten out of her because she has the audacity to think she can sit on the Supreme Court,’’ Warner said. ’’But most young girls who look at the cartoon, don’t even understand that. They just see guys with sticks about to hit a woman.’’

Rossana Rosado, publisher and chief executive officer of El Diario La Prensa in New York, also said the cartoon was offensive.

’’On first view you just see her hanging by a rope and that’s a very disturbing image,’’ she said. ’’It’s offensive mostly because it’s not funny. It’s supposed to be satirical and humorous and it simply isn’t funny.’’

Bok said Friday that his point was that Republicans will look bad if they are too rough on Sotomayor. He added that editorial cartoons sometimes offend to make a point.


’’A cartoon is disrespectful, it is insensitive,’’ Bok said. ’’That’s what we do. We’re not in the business of carrying out socially responsible dictates. That’s somebody else’s job. That’s not my job.

’’I don’t mean to be gratuitously offensive. It was just a vehicle for the cartoon and I think it worked. It was funny and in some cases they are being too sensitive about it.’’

Bok said the cartoon was ’’an utter exaggeration of the cultural theme. She has used her Latinaness stereotypically as an asset in her effort for the nomination to go through. So I turned it around and tried to exaggerate the cultural part of it. It’s part of the mockery of the cartoon, part of the joke.’’

Ed Kelley, editor of The Oklahoman, said the cartoon was reviewed before publication and found to be a good cartoon on a subject that will continue to be in the news.

’’Our take on the cartoon is that the president basically is daring Republicans to criticize his Supreme Court nominee and the Republicans are huddled up and semi-terrified and worried about how they are going to respond,’’ he said.

Sotomayor’s heritage was thrust into the public arena with her comment that as a ’’wise Latina’’ she hoped she would rule better than someone without her experiences, Kelley said.

’’If we would have thought for a minute that it was racist we would clearly not have used it.’’

Bok said about 100 newspapers use his cartoons, but he’s not sure how many ran it aside from The Oklahoman. He said he has not heard of any newspapers that rejected it or complained about it.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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