Seattle ‘P-I’ Cartoonist Responds to Accusations of Being Anti-Semitic

By: E&P Staff

After his March 27 editorial cartoon was accused of being anti-Semitic, David Horsey emphatically said that wasn’t his intent. But the Seattle Post-Intelligencer staffer did express regrets, and removed a yarmulke from one of the characters when sending out a revised version of the cartoon for syndication.

The cartoon (non-yarmulke version can be seen at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/horsey/viewbydate.asp?id=1735) focused on how the federal government is more willing to bail out reckless investment firms than individuals whose homes are being foreclosed.

One reader told Horsey that his cartoon “would have been perfectly at home in the most rabid Nazi publication in 1930s Germany. The Nazis also used editorial cartoons with fizzy-haired, big-nosed Jews wearing yarmulkes to claim that Germany had been plunged into a major monetary crisis by greedy Jewish bankers and money-lenders, in collusion with treasonous German government officials.”

Part of Horsey’s blog response: “I did not intend to disparage Jews … The choice of setting for the cartoon was simply literal — the Prodigal Son story came out of ancient Judea, so I decided to take that as my visual metaphor. The hairstyles were meant to be reflective of the era. … The noses on the characters are no more exaggerated than those on most any of my other cartoon characters.”

He added: “I would take issue with your contention that the cartoon ‘would have been perfectly at home in the most rabid Nazi publication in 1930s Germany.’ Visually, it wasn’t even close to those abhorrent images.”

But Horsey, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner syndicated by Tribune Media Services, did say: “It was a complete failure on my part” to not realize “how the mix of symbols in my cartoon could summon up historical libels against Jews.” And he added that the yarmulke was “a dumb, thoughtless, unnecessary addition” to the cartoon.

Although Horsey eventually sent out a yarmulke-less version for syndication, some client papers had already run the original version.

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