The Albuquerque Journal announced last month it will not publish any more cartoons by Sean Delonas. The decision came two weeks after the Journal published a controversial cartoon by Delonas that the paper admitted was racist.
That cartoon, published by the Journal in early February, depicted two white people being held up by three males, one wearing a jacket with the name of the gang MS13 written on it. The white male says to the white female, “Now honey…I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ … or future Democrats…”
The Journal apologized for publishing the cartoon, which was drawn by syndicated cartoonist Delanos, and the newspaper’s mid-February statement released more information about its response to the controversy. In a lengthy Feb. 17 statement on its website, the Albuquerque Journal’s managing editor Karen Moses wrote, “The cartoon should not have appeared in the Journal, and we apologize for publishing it. The Journal will not publish Mr. Delonas’ work again. Not only because of the outrage it created, but because the Journal should not serve as a platform for racist depictions of many of the people who make up our state.”
According to Moses, “the overwhelming majority of people we have heard from expressed that the cartoon unfairly and inaccurately equated ‘Dreamers’ and people of color with criminals, MS-13 gang members and terrorists, and that it was in fact racist. She continued, “The Journal should be used to spark meaningful, factual and informed debate and not fuel racist ideologies.”
To avoid future controversy, Moses said the Journal is establishing “formal procedures” to review syndicated cartoons, including “having a broader and more diverse group within the Journal.” In addition to Moses’s statement, the Journal published a guest column from the New Mexico Dream Team’s Isaac De Luna and Gabriela Hernandez saying the Journal‘s apology and promise to include diversity was a “good first step.”
In an e-mail to iMediaEthics, Moses pointed to her previous statements and added, “We are looking forward to working with the New Mexico Dream Team and meeting on a regular basis. And the increased scrutiny involves members of the newsroom.”
In e-mails and a phone call with iMediaEthics, Delonas said that he was concerned there was an “organized campaign” to attack his cartoon and questioned what was racist about his cartoon. He also noted that he had sent a letter to the editor to the Journal, but the newspaper had not published it. He also posted a comment on iMediaEthics’ previous story on this controversy. iMediaEthics asked Moses for a response to both his comment on our site and his question about her characterization of the cartoon as racist, and to confirm the paper didn’t publish his letter to the editor; Moses declined to comment further, saying, ” The Journal is moving forward.”
“It’s an anti-illegal immigration cartoon focusing on the labeling of these people as Dreamers. Maybe some of them are Dreamers but a lot of them aren’t,” he said to iMediaEthics. Delonas previously told the New York Times, “I’ve learned that MS-13 is purposely sending minors over here to commit crimes. I’m pretty sure that the cartels are using minors for a lot of their drug dealing.”
He added that in his opinion there was “nothing in the cartoon that said it was anti-Hispanic.” He noted that his cartoon came after Pres. Trump’s State of the Union address, which addressed the MS13 gang. “Even if it did go into the issue of race, which this cartoon did not, it seems it would be better if people could talk about what the issue is instead of resorting to name calling,” Delonas commented.