Editor: Stephen Bower responds below to a charge of “racism” lodged against him in a particular newpaper… )
In response to your email of February 12, 2015 (immediately below in bold), please be advised of the following.
We haven’t met so forgive if this comes across rude, but do you draw cartoons about anything but black people? No offense, but it seems like your cartoons are particularly biased against black people. Do you think you could diversify your content a little bit?
(Name changed to protect the not-so-innocent)
I do not consider myself a racist. Unfortunately, your email indicates you do not share this opinion …about me. Some evidence for my correct opinion … about me … is proffered for your consideration here below.
1. Regarding your email comment inquiring whether “[I] ever draw cartoons about anything but black people?” let me ask, was your comment prompted by the cartoon about retired cops dining and laughing about arresting Black Panthers, because if it was, I am perplexed. That cartoon contained no “black people.” I rechecked it to be certain. Perhaps you mistook the remarks about Panthers getting arrested as racist. (Did you attend a “public school?” Do you know who the Black Panthers were?)
The Panthers in question were bad eggs and should have been arrested. Which is not the same as saying Huey Newton should have been shot to death because he attempted a liquor store holdup. However, he should have recognized the risks inherent in trying to rob some guy who may not wish to be robbed. As I recall, the store he attempted to rob was a “black” owned establishment. You may not be aware that “black” business owners are just as touchy as “white folks” (as Obama refers to “white” people) about getting their “stuff” taken from them at gunpoint. It’s just nature. Since you may have never owned a business or made a payroll, you may not understand this particular quirk of business owners … of any race.
2. I have drawn many cartoons, which have been published on various websites. You may go there and see my cartoons in the website(s)’ archives. In fact, I believe you can check the archives in your own newspaper’s website and do an inventory of my “non-black people” cartoons. They outnumber the “black people” cartoons. So, obviously, I do draw cartoons lampooning people other than “black people.”
3. You can check the archives in your own newspaper’s website and do an inventory of my “particularly biased against black people” cartoons. These, as I recall, are non-existent. But if you find one, please bring it to my attention.
4. I had ancestors who fought in the Revolution and were early settlers in my home state. I had at least one ancestor who fought in the War of 1812. I had ancestors and relatives who fought in the Civil War (sometimes referred to as the War of Emancipation, although this term is seldom used by liberals). Those gents were members of the Indiana 17th Mounted Infantry, but their unofficial name was “The Scourge.”) One of them survived a face to face encounter with Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forest, which was usually tantamount to a death sentence.
There were two or three Underground Railroad Stations in my home county. We used to drive by them when we visited my Grandma when I was little. My parents pointed them out and I was taught about their significance and heroic function predating the Emancipation Proclamation.
I never ever heard the ”N” word until I attended a public high school in Indiana. That high school only had one “black” student. But he was never picked on or discriminated against … to my knowledge. In fact, my baby “white” brother took me along on a visit, when we were both grown men, to see that black guy and again thank him for his coaching of my brother in the junior high football program.
If you are wondering why there were so few “black” people in my home town school, let me inform you of the simple historic fact that many “black” persons immigrated from the poor rural south in hope of finding jobs and employment in the industrialized North after the Civil War. For those people to have moved to where I grew up, amidst Northern rural poverty, would have been jumping out of the frying pan into …oh, why bother? Old colloquialisms are probably lost on modern city folk like you. (Do YOU like it when you get lumped together with some stereotypical group, like “city folk?” Probably not, but it isn’t as bad as being stereotyped as a racist.) (You are probably thinking I am a racist because I happened to grow up in a town with only one resident “black” family, but remember, I didn’t pick where I was born, nor whether “black” people immigrated there as my ancestors had.)
5. By the way, and I hope you don’t think me rude for asking, but where were your ancestors while mine were liberating our Country from despotic British rule (twice), preserving the Union and being the teeth for the Emancipation Proclamation?
6. While you are searching your own publication’s archive for my past cartoons, perhaps you will notice when I draw cartoons and give vent to my ”particular bias against black people”…perhaps you will notice it would be more fair to say I poke fun at crooks, not “black people.” Sometimes the cartooning fun is at the expense of the occasional ”black person” …but this is always merely coincidental to the fact the cartoon victim is also a crook. I think myself rather egalitarian and “equal opportunity” in that regard.
7. Maybe you will find my response irritating and unpleasant, but if so, you know where I am and, probably, where I hang out. You could come by and talk out our differences … or if you prefer, catch me in a kosher deli and shoot up the place. In the current political climate created by your Prez, you wouldn’t need to worry about being stereotyped as an anti-Semite.
8. You are correct in saying “we haven’t met,” but, I look forward to it. And you are forgiven for your rudeness.
9. Please forward a photo of yourself so I can put you in the cartoon accompanying this essay. Thanks in advance.