After publishing a cartoon presenting Iran as a sewer from where cockroaches are spreading across the Middle East. Many have objected Columbus Dispatch and send letters expressing their opinion. Professor Marsha Cohen from Florida International University has written one of the most eloquent one.
The cartoon could be seen here: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_3f1zZBJa-GA/RuCAENsN5QI/AAAAAAAAAgk/3o_tmHWxXQw/s1600-h/Iran_cockroach.jpg
To the Editor: Columbus Post Dispatch
For over four decades, Fidel Castro has been considered one of the most odious leaders in the Western hemisphere. After he took power, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled their island home for Miami (where I live and work), and where they have prospered. Many of them have been among the most vocal opponents of any moves by the US government to normalize relations with Cuba. Even now that Castro is old and sick, and at death's door, he remains a hated symbol of a revolution gone wrong, that rapidly morphed into a detested enemy of the interests and values of the US.
Nevertheless, no Florida newspaper would ever dare to depict Cuba as a sewer, with cockroaches from it spreading out across North and South America. The outrage expressed, even by the regime's most vociferous opponents, to the insult to their Cuban identity and beloved homeland, would put the police on crisis alert, and make headlines throughout the entire country.
Yet in an editorial cartoon, published on Sept 4. the Columbus Dispatch had no compunctions about portraying Iran as a sewer, and Iranians as cockroaches. Its decision to do so--regardless of the political motives of the editorial board, of the artist, or the message they were trying to convey--is unfortunate, and reflects more shamefully on the values and integrity of your newspaper than on the Iranian people, both in Iran and and those who have made their home in this country and other parts of the world, that this cartoon (whether intentionally or unintentionally) maligned and demeaned.
I hope that every organization that considers itself a champion of civil and human rights will express its outrage at the publication of this cartoon. Had the "cockroaches" been designated Jews, Blacks or Hispanics, the cartoon never would have made it into print in a respectable newspaper. And if it did, the objections and the fury generated throughout the community would have been loud, swift and resonant.
Anyone who would not want to see themselves and their ethnic group depicted in this way by a cartoonist is morally obligated to vociferously object to its publication. While the rights of a free press may extend to the promotion of racism, hatred and dehumanization, this does not mean you, as a newspaper, are obligated to exercise that right, or that decent people everywhere should not denounce your decision to do so when you do. Your disgusting representation of Iranians--irrespective of their regime--deserves nothing less than nationwide condemnation.
Marsha B. Cohen