Thomas Nast, the founding father of modern editorial cartooning, has been nominated to the New Jersey Hall of Fame, but one influential and vocal group is taking issue with the nomination. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, “an Irish-Catholic fraternal organization founded around the principles of Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity” says that Nast was a “prejudiced bigot.”
AOH State President Sean Pender writes that “his cartoons portrayed [Catholics] in the most stereotypical and unflattering of ways. It is hard to believe that anyone with such a prejudice towards a specific nationality and faith would be singled out for praise.” More background on the “Hibs” and their role in the Hall of Fame organization, and their complaint is over on The Irish Echo.
So long as we’re cherry picking, we might also add that Thomas Nast supported the plight of the Native Americans, that he supported Abolition, that he fought to end political corruption. Tweed offered him a $100,000 bribe, to stop drawing those “damned pictures,” which he turned down.
Late in life, to give you an idea of the esteem in which he was held — this cartoonist, Mr. Nast, was appointed by Teddy Roosevelt to United States’ Consul General for Ecuador. After selflessly helping many people and businesses there escape a yellow fever epidemic, he succumbed and died from the disease on December 7, 1902.
Judging people from history with our present-day morals is a dicey thing to do. Heck, we have slave holders on our money.