Albuquerque Journal Hires Openly Racist Conservative Cartoonist Because They Thought He Was Being Ironic?

How do you accidentally hire a racist cartoonist who is also a well-known disgraced right-wing moron?

Let’s get into it:

On February 7th, ABQ Journal published this astoundingly offensive, monumentally stupid cartoon.

It’s a number of racist right-wing tropes packed into a single panel shot from the perspective of a pigeon for some reason.

It has a little of everything:

  • MS-13 gang members with sagging pants being linked to completely unrelated young immigrants known as DREAMers, implying that keeping these DACA recipients in the country would lead to crime (a blatantly false narrative, but one that is extremely popular with neo-Nazis).
  • There’s a member of ISIS holding a bloody machete and wearing a suicide vest (also carrying a bomb-strapped baby in case the cartoon was too subtle for the target audience of…um…Hitler’s ghost?).
  • The victims are well-dressed white people. Of course.
  • The reference to “future democrats” playing on that well-worn Republican fear of the growing Latino vote. And the Trump-backed lie that “illegal immigrants” get Democrats elected.

Somehow, this racist, moronic piece was published in a major newspaper. That’s stunning. Even more stunning, though, is that when the paper inevitably apologized, the go-to defense was that they thought it was satirizing “both sides.” What?

Here’s Journal Editor Karen Moses:

Political cartoons are often satire and poke at more than one point of view. 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.

She concluded with the always infuriating “sorry if you were offended” rather than “sorry we published this unquestionably offensive cartoon. Sorry we insulted your intelligence by thinking it was worth publishing. Sorry, we’re sorry, we’re trying to delete it.”

Moses is either incompetent or being dishonest. Cartoonist Sean Delonas is openly racist. His cartoons, which have been getting published and removed in scandal from various papers for years, have a pattern of racism and hostility towards Democrats, typically by relying on the dumbest possible right-wing talking points. The idea that this cartoon was “poking at President Trump’s rhetoric” is absolute bullshit. Delonas is Sean Hannity with a slightly better ability to draw perspective.

Speaking of which, if the name “Sean Delonas” rings a vague bell, perhaps you remember being offended by him when he, in 2009, decided to “poke at President Obama”… by portraying him as a chimpanzee getting shot to death by police.

The absurdly offensive cartoon prompted Vanity Fair to write an entire piece exploring whether Delonas was a racist, a moron, or both.

Sean Delonas may be the worst cartoonist on the planet. Smack dab in the middle of “Page Six,” that two-page spread of media gossip folded into the conservative New York Post, his artlessly drawn editorial cartoons gleam like beacons of right-wing idiocy. Looking at that rectangle of knee-jerk intolerance and lazy jokes is by far the worst part of my day, so I usually avoid it. But today’s cartoon really couldn’t go unaddressed. In it, two cops stand above the gunned-down body of a chimpanzee — a reference to Travis, the ill-fated rampaging ape — as one quips, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” I’m struggling to find an interpretation of this that doesn’t odiously compare Obama, who just signed the stimulus bill yesterday, to a monkey, resorting to one of the most wretched racist stereotypes. But in all fairness, I think Delonas may just be too stupid to have realized that, and his editors probably stopped actually looking at his amateurishly cross-hatched doodles years ago.

Let’s compare and contrast: When he wants to poke at Trump, he makes a racist cartoon endorsing Trump’s racist rhetoric. When he wants to poke at Obama, he makes a racist cartoon showing Obama as an ape.

And his career has been littered with this garbage. Aggrieved racial panic all the way down. He sucks.

This is the guy Moses claims had such a nuanced, subtle take on Trump’s racist rhetoric that it Jonathan Swift’d the country into being wrongly offended. I’ll say it again: Bullshit.

If we take Moses at facevalue (and we shouldn’t), she fell victim to a common vulnerability that plagues the press. Staring at such open, unapologetic hatred, they simply cannot allow themselves to believe that the person is being serious. Nobody could possibly want to create a cartoon that is that racist, that stupid, right? It has to be ironic.

This disconnect is related to a broader problem with covering conservative ideology in the Trump Era defined by nothing meaning anything. It’s why the serious journalists at mainstream outlets like CNN and the New York Times struggle to deal with right-wing pundits and politicians. They don’t want to face the idea that intellectual dishonesty is rampant. Crooked.com’s Brian Beutler described it as “bottomless bad faith” and the description is apt. This bad faith shows up everywhere. It gives us stunts like Mike Pence walking out of a football game in a choreographed stunt meant to virtue signal to his base. And it gives us the press, which ineptly covers the stunt as if it were a genuine event because they don’t know what else to do. I mean how do you realistically cover something where the person’s principles are, as Beutler puts it, “essentially fake”?

It leads to Moses looking at a shockingly racist cartoon and green-lighting it under the assumption that what your gut is telling you just ain’t so.

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