The Canadian artist who drew this cartoon lost his job after it went viral on social media. His employer said it had nothing to do with the cartoon and there is some credibility in that statement. His publisher is also Canadian, operating publications in New Brunswick. In Canada, a political cartoon lampooning the President of the United States would probably not be a hot enough topic to cost someone their job. The current President is not very popular among Canadians these days, so it is likely that the publisher’s statement about the cartoonist’s job is reasonably accurate.
But what about cartoons like this? Is it in poor taste?
The tragedy that met the family whose photos were flashed all over the news last week is no laughing matter. People are leaving Central America in large numbers because living conditions in several of the countries there have become unbearable as drug cartels and a generally lawless atmosphere are overwhelming national governments who do not have the resources to control it. The Trump administration cut significant amounts of aid to Central America which they were using to try and stabilize their countries. Most of the drugs produced in Central America are exported to the United States so there is an obligation on our part to help put a stop to it. When our aid stopped, people began packing up and heading for the border.
Why shouldn’t they? Even though the United States has interfered in Central American politics for almost the entire existence of the countries in the region as a “security” issue, and most of the political turmoil related to revolutions and shifts in power have been caused by American interference, the United States is still seen as a haven from oppression and a land of opportunity by most Central Americans. So they are willing to trek across Mexico, on foot or however they can get here, to the United States. The United States has, on other occasions, welcomed much larger groups of refugees and asylum seekers. Cuba is the best example from Latin America. We also took in as many Vietnamese as were able to escape when the Communists over-ran the south after we left. In both cases, far more people were admitted to the United States than we have allowed to cross the border from Central America.
Criminalizing them by claiming they are breaking our laws through illegal entry is a ridiculous claim in light of our refugee and asylum policies. Claiming that they are increasing the crime rate and are really just a means for terrorists to “sneak in” is the same lousy logic that was used prior to and during WW2 to keep European Jews out of the country. Yeah, read that little bit of history. The United States is today a friend of Israel, but from 1932 to 1945 we restricted the entry of Jews fleeing Hitler, deliberately closing doors so that those who could escape after the war would pile up in the neutral European countries instead of coming across the water. We claimed fear of spies and saboteurs among them but the United States always has had and still does have the resources to make sure those who are granted admission are not spies, saboteurs or terrorists.
I can certainly understand the frustration that produced this cartoon and caused it to “go viral.” On the other hand, a father and child lost their lives just feet from the freedom and relief they were seeking because it was worth the risk to them to attempt to wade across a river to get to the kind of life that you and I take for granted every day. Clearly, the policy that is being put in place at the border doesn’t represent the perspective or feelings of the vast majority of Americans, including my own. But that father and daughter deserve our respect. As much as that cartoon may make a valid point, we need to find a better way to honor the dead.