Following the security breach drama at the White House at the hands of the Secret Service, The Boston Herald published the above racist cartoon, poking fun at President Obama. With the caption, “White House Invader Got Farther Than Originally Thought,” the cartoon references the man (a security contractor) who somehow bypassed all White House security and found himself on an elevator with President Obama. Within inches of the president, the man began recording Obama with his phone, calling attention to his unusual actions. After President Obama left the elevator with some of his Secret Service, a few stayed behind to question the man, only to find out he was armed!
Political cartoons usually poke fun at subjects from the serious to the ridiculous, so no topic is off limits. And while you have to have a sense of humor to find them the least bit amusing, this particular cartoon crossed the racist line. In the cartoon, President Obama is seen brushing his teeth with an intruder is in his bathtub who is taking a bath and asking the president if he’s tried the watermelon flavored toothpaste. We all know the correlation between Black people and watermelon, so when the cartoonist, Jerry Holbert decided to use watermelon as the flavor, he claims he had no idea it was offensive. “I had no intention at all of offending anybody. I didn’t think people would think that way. Obviously that was very naive on my part, that was stupid on my part,” Holbert told the Boston Herald Radio.
There’s so many flavors to choose from. It couldn’t be peppermint? Bubblegum? Or any other flavor toothpaste people recognize? A version of the cartoon appeared on on GoComics.com and referenced raspberry-flavored toothpaste. Well isn’t that an interesting change! According to reports, Holbert changed the flavor to raspberry after being told there was a “racial element to it.”
Holbert says, “I did it anyway because that’s what they were asking for. I thought this was a very lighthearted cartoon, just suggesting that the guy got as far as the bathtub and he’s recommending a different toothpaste for the president.” Holbert chose watermelon first because he said it was a flavor he found in a kids’ toothpaste tube in his home. “I myself love watermelon and I thought that would be a great one. I was completely naive or innocent toward any racial suggestion, I wasn’t even thinking along those lines at all.” Way to take responsibility there Holbert.
The Boston Herald has since apologized as well and of course it’s the weakest mea culpa ever and clearly throws Holbert under the bus: “Contributors to our Editorial and Opinion pages have the right to express their views, and satire is clearly used in Jerry Holbert’s cartoon today. That said, we sincerely regret if we inadvertently offended anyone and extend our sincere apologies,” Herald spokesperson Gwen Gage said in a statement. Right, which is why the cartoon still appears on the Boston Herald site.
Come on! Not only is this cartoon in terrible taste, but it’s literally too soon to be making light of a very serious situation. This intruder could very well have killed the president and if someone doesn’t see what’s wrong with that, there’s vision tests to take! What does the intruder say about the safety of our president? Something in the Secret Service is broken and there should be more urgency to fix it!
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