Writing about the politics of Hurricane Harvey is difficult — necessary but difficult. Politics is part of everything, up to and including disaster response, and ignoring it is to pretend otherwise and forfeit your role as a watchdog.
The problem is that you can get it very wrong. And Politico just got it very wrong.
The main Politico account tweeted this cartoon from Pulitzer Prize-winner Matt Wuerker early Wednesday afternoon. The backlash was swift, and the tweet was quickly removed, though the cartoon remained on the website as of this posting.
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) August 30, 2017
A sampling of the reactions:
this is gross https://t.co/1RyHsedhQd
— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) August 30, 2017
And ignorant. Is the cartoonist not reading about/seeing the extraordinary efforts of individual Texans saving neighbors and strangers? https://t.co/xXMlD0XHIg
— Scott Wilson (@PostScottWilson) August 30, 2017
That Politico cartoon is idiotic and insulting for a bunch of reasons. https://t.co/ktQ3xQQHdV
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 30, 2017
This is beneath the publication. https://t.co/r68WLymai0
— Kyle Feldscher (@Kyle_Feldscher) August 30, 2017
The first problem with the cartoon is its crassness. People are still being saved, and it’s making fun of those same people.
The second problem is the stereotypes. It’s almost a caricature of what you’d expect a liberal cartoonist to draw in response to conservative Texans relying upon the government in their time of crisis. The Confederate flag T-shirt. The Gadsden Flag. The reference to being saved by God (which seems extremely dismissive of Christianity). The Texas secession banner. It’s all kind of … predictable?
The third problem is that, while this tragedy struck Texas, a red state, the most acute devastation in a populous area is in Houston. Harris County went for Hillary Clinton by double-digits, and neighboring Fort Bend County was blue as well. The population of both combined is more than 5 million — about one-fifth of the entire state of Texas.
The Washington Post