In early August Rocket Man noted the offensive editorial cartoon by Tony Auth that was a virtual carbon copy of a piece of Nazi propaganda. Rocket Man’s post appeared under the heading “Julius Streicher would be proud” (the post contains Auth’s cartoon and its apparent Nazi inspiration). Rocket Man noted in his post that he had been unable to find a single media story on the Auth cartoon, although it was widely noted on the Internet.
Reading the Philadelphia Inquirer on the plane returning home from Philadelphia on Sunday, I noticed that the Inquirer had convened a meeting including its editors, Auth, and representatives of Jewish public affairs groups on August 18. The paper’s editorial page ran several mediocre pieces by these representatives on the page yesterday, but most interesting was the editorial note introducing the pieces: “A cartoon, an uproar, then a useful dialogue.”
The note describes the cartoon as “commenting on the security fence Israel is building in the West Bank, depict[ing] a Star of David formed by a crisscrossing fence. Inside the star, separated by the fence, huddled groups of Palestinians.” The note states that “Auth had been unaware” of the the Nazi cartoon that bore an uncanny resemblance to his.
I guess we’re supposed to take Auth’s word for it, but I think I’d like to strap him up to a polygraph before I do. I would at least like to ask him if he has any reflections on the fact that he coincidentally reproduced a cartoon image originally produced by the Nazis during their heyday. What food for thought is there.
The note continues: “To Auth, the symbolism at work was clear: The Star of David stood for the state of Israel, and the chain link for that state’s literal fence-building. ‘Many Jews understood that and have told me that in their view the cartoon fell well within the bounds of legitimate political commentary,’ he said.”
The note also provides Auth’s comments after the meeting: “It was, of course, never my intention to impugn the Jewish faith or to make some sort of allusion to the Holocaust. It is unfortunate that anyone interpreted the cartoon in those ways. It is never my intention in my work to construct barriers to communication.”
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