Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
No surprise that cartoonist Lisa Benson is described as "politically conservative." No liberal would take this swipe at a minority.
Benson's cartoon portrays Gonzales's foes as vicious, out for blood, and backstabbing (literally). These foes don't fight Gonzales with legal arguments; they skulk and sneak behind him and ambush him. It's a stupid, false representation of the case against Gonzales, but it isn't racist.
What's racist is identifying the vicious, backstabbing attack with Indians. The set of weapons depicted—arrows, hatchet, knife—are almost exclusively Indian. No other group in American history relied on the bow and arrow as these (character) assassins have.
Unfortunately, this is a common theme throughout US history. Government officials are good and just because, well, they're government officials. Anyone who opposes them is unpatriotic and un-American. These opponents aren't with us, they're against us. They're socialists, anarchists, or terrorists.
In other words, they're indistinguishable from Indians, who also opposed government officials, acted unpatriotically, and "terrorized" Americans. In fact, we've made this explicit in places like Vietnam and Iraq, where we've referred to our enemies as "Indians." Whether it's the Boston Tea Party or Custer's Last Stand, an Indian is someone who opposes government authority.
Needless to say, ascribing a certain behavior to one race only is racist by definition. Whether Benson intended it or not, her cartoon fits the definition.
For similar examples of racist cartoons, seeCartoon portrays Rumsfeld as victim of arrows in his back
Native comic strips vs. comic books
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