The editorial cartoon above was created by Ingrid Rice, a supremely talented artist who lives in North Vancouver.
Rice’s editorial cartoons are syndicated to various newspapers, KTW being one of them.
Rice is fortunate she is her own boss because daring to draw cartoons that criticize U.S. President Donald Trump has led to firings in locales such as New Brunswick or Pittsburgh.
It’s bad enough that the role of editorial cartoonist — an important part of any newspaper’s Op/Ed pages — is disappearing across North America.
But to create amid fear is another stressor altogether.
This week, Michael de Adder, an editorial cartoonist who worked for Brunswick News for 17 years, was let go — two days after a controversial Trump cartoon he created began circulating online.
The editorial cartoon is shocking and political and difficult to view — which is what defines the very best of editorial cartoons.
It shows Trump playing golf around the bodies of migrants Oscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, who drowned while crossing the Rio Grande River in a bid to get to the U.S.
De Adder said Brunswick News let him go because of the cartoon, which he posted online, but did not submit to his employer.
De Adder’s employer denied his narrative, claiming plans to replace him with another cartoonist were in the works weeks before the Trump cartoon became a worldwide viral sensation.
(De Adder’s successor, Greg Perry, declined the offer after being attacked on social media.)
Maybe the truth of de Adder’s dismissal lies somewhere between what he and Brunswick Media are saying.
But losing one’s job over views of Trump is not an isolated incident.
Consider Rob Rogers, 25-year editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who was fired in the spring of 2018 following creation and publication of a series of cartoons critical of Trump.
Rogers’ firing prompted Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to issue a statement of condemnation, saying the decision sent “the wrong message about press freedoms in a time when they are under siege.”
In his statement, Peduto noted Rogers’ firing came one day after Trump called the media “our country’s biggest enemy.”
That Trump is polarizing is an understatement. That he is controversial is a given. He has made comments and decisions that deserve the harshest of criticism.
How can even his most ardent supporters defend his admission of sexually assaulting women (captured on audio while he was appearing on Access Hollywood)? How can his biggest fans defend the tragic scenes we are now witnessing of migrants in detention camps? How can his MAGA backers explain Trump’s affinity for despotic leaders in North Korea and Russia?
An editorial cartoonist’s job is to make us uncomfortable with all that is wrong in this world, to challenge our views and to poke fun at those in charge who perhaps take themselves a bit too seriously.
The 45th president of the United States of America has unveiled a buffet of topics from which editorial cartoonists can dine. Many of them are hard to digest — and that is the point.
If you saw de Adder’s shocking cartoon and were repulsed and offended, then he did his job well.
As policy decisions in the U.S. and elsewhere result in more such carnage, we run the risk of becoming desensitized to the tragedy.
The editorial cartoonist serves as a powerful reminder that we must look hard at that which we prefer not to see.