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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

This cartoon has an obvious and a not-so-obvious message.

The obvious message is that Indians are antagonistic to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. By implication, they're also antagonistic to what he represents. His cavalry uniform suggests he represents the US military or the United States itself.

This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, since Indians were antagonistic to the US military in previous centuries. And rightly so, since it led attacks against them, helped dispossess them of their land, and enforced the genocidal policies directed at them.

To understand the deeper message, you have to know that cartoonist Michael Ramirez is a right-wing apologist. And that he, along with George W. Bush and most conservatives, sees Rumsfeld as a "good man"...a military hero...a leader of the free world against the forces of evil. To these people, Rumsfeld isn't an incompetent warmonger and would-be torturer, he's a shining light of civilization.

If that's how Ramirez views Rumsfeld, what does it say about those who oppose Rumsfeld? These people—antiwar activists, liberals, socialists, communists, terrorists—have betrayed America. They want to destroy our country and everything it stands for. That's why they've shot "good man" Rumsfeld in the back—because they're too uncivilized and cowardly to face him like a man.

By portraying Rumsfeld as a US cavalryman with arrows in his back, Ramirez has stereotyped Indians. He's equated them with liberals, terrorists, and other opponents of "truth, justice, and the American way." To oppose Rumsfeld, Ramirez might argue, is to oppose America.

In reality, the US government and military were the wrongdoers and the Indians were victims. Ramirez has turned history on its head and made the US government and military the victims. In his opinion, they're figuratively, or perhaps literally, suffered treacherous, backstabbing attacks.

Think about it. Rumsfeld has sent thousands of US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians to their deaths. Yet he's the one under attack? This is typical of how right-wingers twist reality to suit their needs.

Related links
Savage Indians
Native comic strips vs. comic books

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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