Immigration cartoon sparks outcry over racism

The Indianapolis Star has removed this Gary Varvel cartoon from its website, but it came too late; it’s already racing around the Internet as the latest claim of the racism of some editorial cartoonists vs. the right to have an opinion on the editorial page.

“Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive in his attempt to express his strong views about President Barack Obama’s decision to temporarily prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States,” Jeff Taylor, the paper’s executive editor said.

Cartoons are seldom intended to be read literally. And Gary did not intend this one to be viewed that way. He intended to illustrate the view of many conservatives and others that the president’s order will encourage more people to pour into the country illegally.

The illegal immigration issue evokes strong opinions and emotions. And it’s important to encourage a vigorous public debate on issues of this magnitude, but with respectful discourse. That is what we believe at IndyStar and that is what we will continue to do – to publish views from all sides as we explore the important issues that will define the future of our nation, state and city.

“Easily fixed,” Stephanie Clarkson of Boston wrote on her Facebook page.


Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to consider immigration.

  • Robert Moffitt

    “Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive….”
    The man who penned an image of “brown people” literally invading a white family’s home during Thanksgiving, and he never paused for a moment to think this might look “racially insensitive,” if not outright racist? I’m not sure I buy that.
    I grew up in Indianapolis, reading the Indianapolis Star (which contains a daily Bible verse on its cover, BTW). While the town is more diverse than Minneapolis, it is also more divided.
    I don’t think the paper is sorry it ran that cartoon. I think its sorry it got caught and called out for it.

  • Pamela

    Racist Hispanics coming from their RACIST HISPANIC ONLY countries, then, once here demand things for HISPANICS ONLY, and NO ONE is suppose to notice they are HISPANIC. HISPANIC SUPREMACISTS. They believe they are above our laws. They break them, then, demand we change them, because HISPANICS DEMAND IT. They dare to point their RACIST HISPANIC fingers at us. Lordy.

    • So, you’re expecting HISPANICS to invade your home through the windows this Thanksgiving?

      • Pamela

        I’m an American U.S. citizen, and the U.S. is my home. We have already been invaded for over 28 years by RACIST HISPANICS. They will be getting thanksgiving dinner at the expense of me, and every hard working U.S. tax payer. All 15,000,000 to God only knows how many. But, you don’t mind stealing from Americans to pay for your charity.

        • Jerry

          Look, Pamela’s ancestors didn’t come to America to make a better life for themselves and their children just to have non-white people come after them to make a better life for themselves and their children.

          • Veronica

            How’d I get dragged into this?

          • Jerry

            Sorry, that was an accidental neuron misfire. I have corrected it.

          • Veronica

            And yes, my family consists of multiple waves of immigrants, some with documentation, some pre-documentation, all of whom were leaving their homes to escape hunger, violence, death, poverty.

        • essjayok

          Pamela: I encourage you to take an introductory class in racism. I wanted to be more informed about how to talk about race and race in the United States specifically, so I took a training at my local YWCA. And this is what I learned (to quote): A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities or acts of discrimination.

          Therefore, undocumented immigrants, who clearly do not have the power in our system, cannot be the ones perpetuating racism. #readabook #learn #stopshouting

          • Pamela

            You want to see a Full Blown Racist? Look in the mirror. 82% to 85% of all Dead & wounded in Iraq & Afghanistan are white boys, who only make up 35% of U.S. population. Majority of tax payers are white, who pay for everything. What Racists like you teach our white kids, is they have the privilege of doing the vast majority of bleeding, & dying, paying for everything, but no right to have the privilege to enjoy it.

          • jon

            White boys fighting and dieing for their country…. SCREW WOMEN! The lazy double XX chromosomer’s aren’t fighting and dying for this country, they aren’t paying as much in taxes either (cause they are only making 70 cents on every dollar a man makes) and the supreme court and congress went and messed up the constitution (probably illegally by some crazy definition of legality) and gave them the vote making my white male land owner vote (though not enough land to have qualified to vote back in the day) less meaningful… WOMEN are ruining this country!

            Go ahead try applying the word WOMEN every where that you have HISPANIC in your rantings… it’s kind of fun.

            Seriously though I love women, one in particular, and wish them all the best in their on going fight for equality in the messed up system that us white male land owners created 200 years ago…

          • Michele


            I think it’s important to acknowledge that women, as a class, haven’t commited any crimes. Unfortunately this is not true for illegal immigrants who have entered the county illegally.

            There are plenty of arguments that can be made against Pamela’s comments, disorganized as they are, but your argument is really specious.

          • jon

            minor detail that can be quickly remedied by making a law for it to be illegal to be a woman… didn’t used to be illegal to be an immigrant, then we made a law so that it was.

            I don’t doubt that there are arguments to be made, against immigration as it is being done right now… but they aren’t being made… So while the non-sense is flying lets make sure it fly’s every where, lets make every slope slippery, and ensure that nothing productive ever happens any where!

            Because an honest conversation about the problem with immigration would have nothing to do with what is happening now with Obama and everything to do with how many people want to leave their own countries to come to the US and we are doing nothing to improve the countries they are leaving instead we are putting a surprising amount of effort into making them worse with policies being created by our government…

            If we were serious about immigration we’d be talking about how to limit the violence on the Mexican side of the border, if we were serious about immigration we’d call children fleeing a war zone refugees not immigrants, but we aren’t serious about the problem we are only serious about the politics, and blaming Obama or the Republicans for what ever we can while we can. There is plenty of blame to go around with failed gun running operations and efforts to build fences and walls instead of supporting governments… but responding to non-sense with reason gets us no where, so I’m responding to non-sense with non-sense…. it won’t work either, but it’s a heckva lot more fun.

          • Michele

            So many of the Central and South American countries that produce illegal immigration have long histories of governmental corruption. What do you suggest or government do to make their societies better? Should we can NAFTA? What are your ideas? I agree we have policies that contribute to the problems, but I suspect much of the violence and poverty in these countries has endogeneous roots.

          • jon

            We don’t need to make their societies “better” we need to make them safer, and more prosperous.

            People don’t come here because it’s “better” they come here to be safe, and to make a living (or if you are depending on your mood to mooch off of the social safety nets, that they don’t have access too, I think Kassie talks about that further down) if they are coming to the US for Jobs, why not put Jobs in Mexico? Clearly it’s possible, Microsoft has a large set of offices in Mexico city, my VW was assembled in Mexico, sure we are sending american jobs over seas, but if we can at the same time push american products over seas we’ve created american consumers over seas too…

            Economic polices are readily available to us to make things better, and the better they get the better they will be.
            To simply say the governments in these countries were corrupt (cause pot, meet kettle) and thus there is nothing we can do is not an answer so much as giving up because we think the answers might be hard and complicated… they are, though there was a time we as a country choose to do things, not because they were easy, but because they were hard (and we were afraid the communists might get there first).

          • Pamela

            It is women, whose sons are being slaughtered.

          • //Majority of tax payers are white, who pay for everything.

            This is only true if non-whites don’t pay for anything.

          • Pamela

            Really ILLEGALS don’t have power in our system, racist? Our elected U.S. POTUS just gave it to them. They can’t vote, but Traitor Obama made every American U.S. citizen’s vote null & void. Talk about voter suppression.

          • John Dilligaf

            I’ve always disagreed with that definition of racism. There are plenty of racist people on both sides of the power divide – those who judge people based on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.

        • >>We have already been invaded for over 28 years by RACIST HISPANICS.<<

          And what about those dirty Irish?!

          /Oh, wait, wrong century…

  • Robert Moffitt
  • David

    this escalated more quickly than I thought it would…

  • Nick K

    Are we sure those aren’t Italians climbing in through the window? The man kind of looks like Mario from all those Nintendo games. Also, the guy holding the turkey should grow a stache and join the fight against prostate cancer.

  • Michele

    Varvel’s depiction of illegal immigrants joining the family’s Thanksgiving celebration via an open window is an appropriate symbol of illegal immigration. If Varvel wanted to depict legal immigration he would have show people arriving through the front door as show in Clarkson’s post.

    Whatever you think about legal or illegal immigration and by extension, immigration reform, Varvel has suceeded in stirring up conversation.

  • Kassie

    This thread is absolutely insane and the best thing I’ve read all day. Amazing. RACIST AMAZING actually.

  • Jerry

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a live one here, excessive capitalization and all.

    Or performance art. I’m not ruling out performance art.

    • Andy Kaufman or Ann Coulter Brand performance art?

      • Jerry

        You know, I’ve always had the suspicion that Ann Coulter was secretly a democrat making a joke that has gotten way out of hand.

        • I think she is just in it for the $$$, kind of like Rush. It doesn’t excuse them of their idiocy, though

          • Jerry

            That’s kind of harsh. I take it your not a fan of prog rock

  • David W

    Ironically noted: the turkeys that will grace many tables this Thanksgiving come from plants that employ Hispanic immigrants, including ones in Indiana. More at this link:

  • Neil

    “Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive…”
    Here’s the thing about racism: you don’t have to intend it. We seem to have reduced racism to something only the white hood folks do, because we fixed that all in the 60s, man. But we’re all subject to biases. Being able to recognize them as such… well, that’s the trick, right?

  • Kassie

    To combat some of the misconceptions about immigration and illegal immigration I want to add some facts and some observations into this conversation, in a, you know, sane and respectful way.

    1) Even most legal immigrants to the US can’t get most welfare benefits. Clinton make it very difficult for most people in most immigrations statuses to qualify. While their are always exceptions, mostly only refugees and asylum seekers get benefits. I would assume this will apply to the group affected by Obama’s executive order too.

    2) Most people in this country do not enter by entering illegally. Most overstay legal Visas. Still illegal, but not what most people think.

    3) Immigrants, documented and undocumented, all pay taxes. Everyone is subject to sales tax. Property taxes are paid by landlords using the rent immigrants pay. Many undocumented people, using fake social security numbers, pay into Medicare and Social Security because they have no choice. They will never get the pay out.

    4) Not all undocumented immigrants are Latino. I had a number of people attempt to apply for welfare when I worked at the County who were undocumented from Canada, Somalia, Tibet, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Laos and India, as well as Latin American countries. If you are one day past the expiration date on that Visa, you are undocumented. This includes white people.

    • David

      what’s with these facts in this thread? and no capitalized words? off the court Kassie.

  • Dave

    I just think it’s funny that the guy with the turkey is wearing oven mitts. A roasted turkey sits for 30 minutes before you even carve it. It wouldn’t be hot.

    That guy isn’t doing anything right.

    • David

      those are turkey mittens. they allow for a better grip on the platter.

      • Dave

        I’ll grip your platter.

        • Michele

          You guys should get a room!

  • Robert Moffitt

    WCCO-TV did a pretty good job of localizing the story about the President’s action in this story.

  • Dan Voltz

    So, I was asking myself this earlier in the week… but why isn’t there a statute of limitations on illegally entering the country? I mean, if I commit certain crimes I’m basically untouchable after a given number of years (the Cosby case had me thinking about this, incidentally). It seems to me enacting a statue of limitations on illegally entering the country would be incredibly reasonable. There are few crimes we ask people to pay the price for thirty years after they’ve occurred.

    Or, is every day someone spends in the United States illegally a new crime?

    • BJ

      >is every day someone spends in the United States illegally a new crime?

      I believe it is. I’m not sure how I would feel if it isn’t, or if I would want to change that.

      • Kassie

        I don’t think it is a new crime every day, but an ongoing crime. Like if you speed, it isn’t a new infraction every time you go up a MPH over the speed limit, but the fact that you are over the speed limit is an infraction.

  • John O.

    I’ve been out and about this afternoon, so I am getting to the party late. Some of the conversation reminds me a lot of this (caution: language):

    • Well played, sir. Very well played.

      • That movie could NEVER be made today.

        /I love that movie.

  • Jack

    What, no Grape Salad?