The University of Alabama’s student newspaper was forced to apologize for a cartoon about Alabama’s loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl that some readers and those on social media outlets believed had “racist intentions.”
The “This is what happens in Obama’s America” cartoon on December 5 showed an Auburn player zooming past an Alabama player who had tripped, depicting the last play in Auburn’s epic win in the Iron Bowl, and was satirizing the“Thanks, Obama” online meme in which even the most trivial things are jokingly blamed on Obama.
Yet, there some readers and others on social media somehow thought there was racist intent in the cartoon even though the newspaper has been responsible for desegregating much of the university’s sorority system.
The Crimson White‘s Editor-in-Chief Mazie Bryant wrote that though “the cartoon was meant as satire,” it has “unfortunately” been “been perceived by many readers as having racist intentions. We sincerely regret this, and apologize to anyone who was offended by it”:
The cartoon, in fact, was intended as a lighthearted look at some of the more absurd explanations given for Alabama’s collapse at the end of the Iron Bowl game against Auburn last Saturday. Many fans across the state took to social media and personal platforms to place blame for the team’s loss. To The Crimson White, and much of the student body, the blame was based on ridiculous and unfounded reasons.
Unfortunately, many people have developed an unhealthy opinion that all of the problems the United States has faced is a direct result of the decisions President Barack Obama has made during his terms as president. To place blame for the problems of the world on one man’s shoulders is not only disrespectful to our country’s leader, but also a scapegoat, devaluing the real roots of the problems themselves.
This cartoon was, by no means, intended to be racist or insulting. It was the unfortunate product of editorial oversight and a lack of a critical eye in determining possible implications the cartoon could have. This mistake will not be made again.
The cartoonist, Kevin Pabst, apologized as well on the newspaper’s Facebook page.
“I wasn’t even taking a political stab at Obama,” Pabst wrote. “As many have noted, my thought process here was to mock those who blindly blame Obama for any and everything that goes wrong. So yes, it was just a ‘Thanks Obama’ joke. Hindsight is 20/20, and I realize now there are ways I could have made the intent behind the cartoon more evident. Sometimes sarcasm isn’t executed as well on paper as it is in my head.”
The Crimson White wrote they are “instituting a change in the way we address editorial cartoons” and will be more “vigilant to place a more critical eye on the greater implications and perceptions a cartoon might carry.”
“From this point on, we will be approving cartoons before they are published with a panel consisting of our editorial board,” they wrote. “We will judge cartoons based on their power and meaning and decipher which areas need to be revised and expanded upon. We are extremely sorry to have overlooked the wider implications of this cartoon, and we are making every effort possible to make sure this does not happen again.”
The paper was criticized even though The Crimson White was responsible for propelling the University of Alabama to integrate much of the sorority system after they published “The Final Barrier” story that “exposed segregationist practices within our University’s greek system.”