On Wednesday, The Washington Post finally removed a racist editorial cartoon that showed a Hamas leader using civilians as human shields. It shouldn’t have been published in the first place considering how distasteful and downright inhumane it is to Palestinians.
Michael Ramirez created the cartoon, entitled “Human Shields,” depicting Palestinians with heavily exaggerated features: A man with a sizable nose and growling mouth labeled “Hamas” is bound by rope to four scared children and a woman wearing a hijab.
“How dare Israel attack civilians,” the man remarks in the cartoon.
In a letter to readers, Editorial Page Editor David Shipley tried to the diffuse the backlash by stating that the cartoon was intended to satirize Hamas. However, he soon realized that the audiences were upset at its discriminatory undertones. Shipley wrote:
“The reaction to the image convinced me that I had missed something profound, and divisive, and I regret that. Our section is aimed at finding commonalities, understanding the bonds that hold us together, even in the darkest times. In this spirit, we have taken down the drawing. We are also publishing a selection of responses to the caricature. And we will continue to make the section home to a range of views and perspectives, including ones that challenge readers. This is the spirit of opinion journalism, to move imperfectly toward a constructive exchange of ideas at all possible speed, listening and learning along the way.”
Shipley’s statement also featured letters criticizing the decision to run the cartoon.
The Israel-Hamas war has now surpassed the month mark, with racist rhetoric against Palestinians running rampant. The Washington Post did the right thing by removing the cartoon and addressing the fact that it was wrong to publish it.
However, it’s alarming that this kind of racism is being amplified by such powerful and vital platforms.