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

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


Home » Cartoon Ethics»

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

Submit a tip / Report a problem

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

Share this article: