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Liberal cartoonists accused of racism

Editorial cartoons in the New York Times and Washington Post are elicting charges of racism over their depictions of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, the president’s nominee to replace Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Washington Post cartoonist Pat Oliphant penned Rice this week as a jabbering, “anything-you-say-boss” parrot – with exaggerated lips – telling the president how great he is.

In October, Jeff Danziger, cartoonist for the New York Times, used Butterfly McQueen’s line from “Gone With the Wind” – “I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout birthin’ babies” – to have Rice deny knowledge of the aluminum tubes at the center of the debate over the administration’s rationale for believing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The Washington Post online dropped Ted Rall’s syndicated cartoons Monday citing a “tone” that did not fit the paper.

In a July 1 strip ridiculing Bush administration figures, Rall suggested “appropriate punishments for deposed Bushists” that parody alleged treatment of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. One panel has Rice saying, “I was Bush’s beard! His house nigga. His …” She is interrupted by a character wearing a shirt reading “You’re not white, stupid” who says, “Now hand over your hair straightener.”

Earlier this year, Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury had Rice confirming former National Security Adviser Richard Clark’s accusation that she didn’t even know who Osama bin Laden was before 9-11 and the president addressing her as “Brown Sugar.”

The use of racial stereotypes – exaggerated physical features, ebonics, subservience – have raised more than a few hackles.

“This stuff is grotesque,” Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience this week.

“No American, certainly not a person of Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s stature, should be treated like this,” he said. “It is a new low. It is an absolute new low for the left. … They claim to be holier than thou. They claim to be above all of us when it comes to understanding the downtrodden and minorities. They claim to be the only ones that have the ability to have the compassion and understanding, and yet they get away with racism. They get away with bigotry.”

The uproar over the Washington Post cartoon apparently caused Danziger to delete it from the archive he maintains at his own website.

“The depiction of Dr. Condoleezza Rice by Jeff Danziger, Pat Oliphant and Garry Trudeau as an ebonics speaking, big lipped, black mammy who just loves her ‘massa’ is a disturbing trend in editorial cartoons,” said Michelle D. Bernard, senior vice president of the Independent Women’s Forum.

According to the group’s website, IWF was “established to combat the women-as-victim, pro-big-government ideology of radical feminism … by advancing the principles of self-reliance, political freedom, economic liberty, and personal responsibility.