Investors’ Business Daily, a business newspaper widely viewed as having a conservative editorial page, decided to dip its toes into racial politics over the weekend with a political cartoon about the case of Trayvon Martin. But instead of presenting a valid criticism of the negative reactions to George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict, the publication invoked lynchings — one of the great tragedies committed against Black Americans — to try to make its point.
In an attempt to level criticism at Al Sharpton, the Black reverend-turned-TV host who has been deeply involved in cases of racial injustice, the cartoonist depicted various incidents in which Sharpton has been active as people being hanged from a tree:
Conservative magazine National Review Online also ran the piece as its “Cartoon of the Day.”
Crown Heights, Freddie’s Fashion Mart, and the Tawana Brawley hoax are all cases in which Sharpton was deeply involved. And all three turned out to be somewhat disastrous — a riot in Crown Heights, a shooting at Freddie’s, and a false rape accusation by Tawana Brawley. But while it’s totally acceptable for the cartoonist to take issue with Sharpton and the controversies in which he’s been involved, this cartoonist instead chose to invoke a racially-motivated crime that killed nearly 5,000 Black people in the 19th and 20th centuries. What’s more, two major conservative publications decided to run it.
IBD has a long history of questionable editorial decisions. During the legislative fight over the Affordable Care Act, for example, IBD published an editorial claiming that “[p]eople such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.” Hawking was born in Oxford, England — which is located in the U.K. He is now a professor at the University of Cambridge — which is also located in the U.K.