Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial cartoonist David Horsey found himself in an uncomfortable situation when one of his cartoons unintentionally offended many of the Jewish faith. The cartoon which ran last Thursday depicts two prodigal sons. The first, representing investment firms returning to a receptive father willing to bail him out and a second an individual home owner who lost his house with a “risky loan” and receives a cold shoulder.
The point of contention was that the father was originally drawn wearing a yarmulke – “is a thin, slightly-rounded skullcap traditionally worn at all times by Orthodox Jewish men.” Many felt that identifying the father as Jewish continued the stereotype that Jews are money handlers.
I am mortified to learn that a number of people in the Jewish community around the United States read into a recent cartoon a meaning I never intended.
While there have been times that folks with an axe to grind have purposely misread my work, in this case I can fully appreciate the cause of concern. It was a complete failure on my part to comprehend how the mix of symbols in my cartoon could summon up historical libels against Jews.
This seemed to help clarify my intent, but I also realized that one little detail in my cartoon — the yarmulke — had clearly identified the characters as Jews, not as mere ancient residents of the Middle East. It was a dumb, thoughtless, unnecessary addition that was easily remedied.