MS13, Dreamers Cartoon Offensive, Albuquerque Journal doesn't 'condone racism or bigotry' - iMediaEthics

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Sean Delonas's cartoon (Credit: Sean Delonas/Twitter)

The Albuquerque Journal published a cartoon of two white people being held up at gunpoint by three males, one of them wearing a jacket with the gang name MS-13. One of the two people being held up says to the other “Now Honey … I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ … or future Democrats…”

The cartoon, drawn by Sean Delanos, upset many, and “state lawmakers dedicated a half-hour to criticizing the cartoon on the New Mexico Senate floor,” the Washington Post reported. New Mexico’s Hispanic population is 48.5 percent, “the highest percentage of any state,” the New York Times noted.

In the Journal’s own news story on the criticism of the cartoon,  the newspaper’s editor Karen Moses explained that the editorial page publishes a variety of views, including some the paper doesn’t agree with, in order “to spark discussion and debate.” Moses added, “In hindsight, instead of generating debate, this cartoon only inflamed emotions. This was not the intent, nor does the Journal condone racism or bigotry in any form.”

She later issued a fuller apology for the cartoon, which she wrote “only inflamed emotions.”

“I do not presume to know what cartoonist Sean Delonas was trying to convey in his cartoon that was published in Wednesday’s Albuquerque Journal. But on one level it appeared to us to be poking at President Trump’s rhetoric by portraying a quaking Republican couple who were painting Dreamers with a broad, totally false, brush,” Moses wrote in a statement on the paper’s website. She noted that the cartoon doesn’t represent the Journal‘s position on the Dreamers.

“I repeat that the Albuquerque Journal does not condone racism or bigotry in any form,” she added. “I also want to reiterate that we do not agree with many of the opinions expressed on the editorial pages, which are intended to encourage debate. Also, the editorial board decides what to publish on these pages, and that is separate from the newsroom and its reporters.”

The paper’s editorial page editor D’Val Westphal explained in a Journal story that she thought the cartoon was clearly about Ms-13 and how Republicans respond.  “I read the cartoon as the muggers being clearly labeled as MS-13, and the conservative Anglo couple – with red tie and red purse, i.e. red state – reacting out of fear and labeling their attackers as ‘Dreamers’ and even Democrats,” Westphal told the paper. “In my mind, it shows that fear and ignorance allow some groups to paint all with a broad brush.”

The cartoonist Delonas disagreed with Moses’s interpretation of his cartoon, which he says is an illustration of MS-13 “purposely sending minors over here to commit crimes.”

iMediaEthics has contacted Delonas and Moses for comment.


The Washington Post noted that the cartoonist has upset readers before, with a 2009 cartoon in the New York Post showing two police officers shooting a chimpanzee with the word “bubbles,” concerning the stimulus bill, and readers interpreted it as comparing Obama to a monkey. News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch apologized for any offense.

Hat Tip: Steve Bien-Aime

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MS13, Dreamers Cartoon Offensive, Albuquerque Journal doesn’t ‘condone racism or bigotry’

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One Response

  1. Sean Delonas says:

    Regardless if you like the cartoon or not, does the editor’s, Karen Moses, explanation make sense to anyone? Could Ms. Moses explain to her readers WHAT PRECISELY IS RACIST ABOUT THIS CARTOON?

    Maybe she should also explain how a meeting with activists who are threatening the paper with boycotts and going after their advertisers is “important and helpful.” To me it appears to be a shakedown by self-serving activists.

    Ms. Moses has been less than honest in her constantly changing statements. Unlike Ms. Moses, I have not changed my position once. The cartoon is not racist and is based directly on the State of the Union speech by Trump where he called out MS-13 by name. It should also be noted that the 3 criminals are all of different ethnicities, one of them being white. That fact doesn’t matter to me, but MS. Moses is painting blanket statements of racism. Is this cartoon about race or about legal vs illegal immigration? The Journal says it wants an “open debate” on the issue.

    In regards to gangs using minors to “commit crimes,” anyone who visits Washington Heights in NYC to buy illegal drugs knows that my statement is true. An adult arrested for dealing in NY faces 1 – 9 years for a first time offense while juveniles probably won’t serve any time.

    Ms. Moses stated that the cartoon was to “intended to encourage debate.” If Ms Moses wants to debate me, as long as I’m unedited, I ACCEPT her challenge. Trump is right when he says “Fake News.”


    Sean Delonas, Cartoonist

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