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Michael Ramirez ticks off Iranians

Investors Business Daily editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez has managed to offend a few Iranians after a cartoon he drew depicting Iran as a sewer spewing cockroaches across the Middle East. The apparent message was to “point out the danger of extremism and its roots in the Middle East, related to Iran’s government,” but many don’t feel that was the result.

But for many Iranians, it is a visualisation of a new propaganda war that echoes the way a large part of the U.S. media backed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ali Sheikholeslami, executive director of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Northern California, told IPS that the cartoon perpetuates the dehumanisation of Iranians, and Muslims in general.

“Comparing people to cockroaches happened during the Nazi era and before the Holocaust in Germany,” he said. “A similar pattern happened in Rwanda before the genocide in 1994 — a comparison between Tutsis and cockroaches.”

“When you dehumanise a group of people, then you can nuke them, you can kill them, you can destroy them, and unfortunately that process is moving [forward],” he added.

The cartoon ran in the Columbus Dispatch on September 4th, but was actually drawn back in June 25th.

Community Comments

#1 Charles Brubaker
September/19/2007
@ 7:40 am

Mike seems to cause outrage every few years. Although I guess that partially makes him a good cartoonist (and he is, BTW).

#2 Rich Diesslin
September/19/2007
@ 1:20 pm

â??Comparing people to cockroaches …,” â??… then you can nuke them, …” Perhaps, but it’s the cockroaches that survive a nuke. Anyway, it’s the wack-o leaders and terrorists of Iran, not the people, that are at issue. That being said, it is a creepy cartoon. I don’t like it either, but it has nothing to do with the message … it’s just gross. ;o

#3 Eric Burke
September/20/2007
@ 6:45 am

It seems that more and more we are seeing editorial cartoonists not clearly executing their cartoons. If I were Iranian, I’d be offended or PO’d, too. Ramirez shows Iran as a sewer grate with cockroaches coming out…as is, the cartoon depicts Iran as a sewer and it’s people as cockroaches. There’s no specific indication that he’s speaking about Iran’s government or the extremeists it supports.

He painted to broad a picture. I don’t think he did a good job with this cartoon…

#4 Angela Robinson
September/20/2007
@ 9:12 am

Well said, Eric. I agree with you on this. It seems to be a statement about the country and its people.

#5 Mike Lester
September/20/2007
@ 10:11 am

“If I were Iranian, Iâ??d be offended”
“It seems to be a statement about the country and its people.”

YOU THINK???

Holy moral relativism, Batman! What the he– do you think MR or any editorialist or commentator does every day when we’re not watching Judge Judy? If you’re any good, you’re offending people. (end of job description)

This just in:
M.Ahmadinejad, ELECTED president two years ago, has prompted international outrage by questioning whether six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis and calling for the state of Israel to be “wiped off the map.” He has vehemently defended Iran’s right to nuclear power while denying that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons. He’s in NYC right now and God bless the NYPD who refused to let his scrawny butt visit Ground Zero. Roaches should be the one’s offended.

#6 Eric Burke
September/20/2007
@ 11:24 am

Are all Iranians as evil and despicable as Ahmadinejad?

That’s the impression this cartoon gives, which doesn’t seem accurate and why I say it misses it’s intended mark. It’s to broad in it’s message.

Drive that into your Batcave, Robin…

#7 Neal Obermeyer
September/20/2007
@ 12:23 pm

If you’re any good, you are probably offending people.

If you’re offending people, it doesn’t mean you’re any good.

If his problem is Ahmadinejad, fine. Don’t equate an entire population with cockroaches if that’s your point. Lester seems to be willing to defend either message.

THIS JUST IN: Ahmadinejad’s shaky popularity with the moderate Iranian population only strengthens with every dismissive cartoon like this, weakening the US’s best chances at actual, honest regime change.

Ramirez is an excellent artist.

#8 Art
September/20/2007
@ 6:05 pm

Like most on the right who are merely jingoistic and lack the ability or desire to think critically, Lester and Ramirez think all Iranians are like Ahmedinejad.

I’m embarrassed and ashamed that in America such people have such public voices.

#9 Art Silverman
September/20/2007
@ 6:06 pm

Like most on the right who are merely jingoistic and lack the ability or desire to think critically, Lester and Ramirez think all Iranians are like Ahmedinejad.

Iâ??m embarrassed and ashamed that in America such people have such public voices.

#10 Dean Turnbloom
September/21/2007
@ 7:06 am

For you literalists…Iran’s population is about 65 million…I didn’t count that many cockroaches in Mike’s cartoon…in fact, I think he drew too few to really capture the essence of that portion of the population that fits the apt description…great googly moogly, it never fails to amaze me about what folks will get their dander up…at least he didn’t have fifty little Mohammad’s crawling up out of that sewer grate…then he’d have to go into hiding…

#11 Mike Lester
September/21/2007
@ 8:47 am

“Donâ??t equate an entire population with cockroaches”
“Iâ??m embarrassed and ashamed that in America such people have such public voices.”

Color me blushing. Cartoonist walks into what he thought was a discussion of a cartoon posted on a cartoon issues web site when in fact it is a tutorial on who I can and cannot “equate” and chock full o’ fervent pleas that I shut up.

I’m so unnerved, I almost started to draw Muhammad.

#12 Neal Obermeyer
September/21/2007
@ 9:52 am

Give me a break, Lester. This *is* a discussion on the cartoon and why several of us don’t think it works. What do you think you’re accomplishing here by playing this victim role?

For one, I guess quoting out of context allows you to sidestep the actual points being raised – such as, at least in my quote, that the effectiveness of the cartoon is diluted by a misappropriated symbol. I guess it is much easier to just snip out the context and act like you’re being forced to comply with some imaginary edict.

Now, if you’re willing to go along with actual discussion, your earlier post seems to defend two interpretations – that the cockroaches represent Ahmadinejad, and that the cockroaches represent the Iranian population. Do you stand by both?

#13 Mike Lester
September/21/2007
@ 10:26 am

Yes. Ahmadinejad = cockroach. People who elected him = cockroach. People that want to deny my right to
say that people who support terrorism are cockroaches = cockroach.

#14 Neal Obermeyer
September/21/2007
@ 11:41 am

Ok. I’m sure as soon as one of those people shows up, we’ll make sure they know.

#15 Matt Bors
September/21/2007
@ 12:09 pm

There’s an elephant in the room which everyone is pretending doesn’t exist. Namely, Iran’s borders are not circular like a drain.

This irresponsible portrayal of the country’s shape only continues the notion that Americans know nothing about other contries and their shapes.

#16 Matt Bors
September/21/2007
@ 12:12 pm

I mean “countries”

#17 Chris
September/22/2007
@ 11:47 am

In my opinion, I think that the cockroaches are supposed to represent terrorists and supporters of Ahmadinejad and his ideas flowing out of Iran and plaguing the rest of the Middle East.
I agree that it is wrong to dehumanize an entire population based on the actions of a few, but I think that the cartoon’s intent was misinterpreted to represent all Iranians, as opposed to the terrorists and supporters of Ahmadinejad.

Matt, I’m sure that Ramirez knows the shape of Iran’s borders; I think that the “sewer” point would not have been made if it was shaped like Iran as opposed to being circular.

#18 Matt Bors
September/23/2007
@ 8:09 pm

“Matt, Iâ??m sure that Ramirez knows the shape of Iranâ??s borders; I think that the â??sewerâ? point would not have been made if it was shaped like Iran as opposed to being circular.”

It was a joke.

#19 sss bro
January/4/2008
@ 2:42 am

nice

#20 alireza t
January/4/2008
@ 2:43 am

i’m iranian, i’m happey when american can’t do anything with us and just make some picturs for us (hehe nice picturs keep working)

#21 Jeff Mahon
May/4/2009
@ 7:49 pm

Well, a country is a reflection of it’s leaders.

One reason we are hated around the globe. Look at the people we keep electing into office.

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