Earlier today, Politico tweeted an editorial cartoon by Matt Wuerker depicting Texans being rescued from Hurricane Harvey floodwaters that was viewed by many as inappropriately mocking them. The tweet was later deleted, although the original cartoon remained up on Politico’s website as of approximately 4:00 pm Eastern Time.
The original deleted tweet (screenshot saved by this writer):
The cartoon as seen above, depicts a man wearing a shirt with the Confederate flag on it and a cowboy hat and boots, being rescued from the roof of a home nearly covered by floodwaters. The home displays a “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag popular with tea party movement supporters and a sign with the Texas flag and “SECEDE.” The man being rescued is shown saying, “Angels! Sent by God!” while one of the rescuers corrects him, “Er, actually Coast Guard…sent by the government.”
The backlash to the cartoon was swift in condemning its biased view of Texans and “political cheap shots,” as Becket Adams at the Washington Examiner described it.
Adams noted the cartoon’s many problems, including trafficking in a “collection of lazy Texas stereotypes,” presenting a laughable misunderstanding of Christianity, ignoring the many contributions by civilians to rescue efforts, and ludicrously suggesting that Houston — an urban metropolis that voted 54 percent in favor of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election — was “a hotbed of weirdo, backwoods secessionists.” Perhaps worst of all was the overall message:
Finally, the timing of the political point-scoring here is just – wow. Yes, there are secessionists in Texas, but is this really the moment for a round of self-satisfied grinning by a Washington-based cartoonist? Here’s a thought: Wait until after all the corpses have been retrieved from the floodwaters before taking political cheap shots at an entire state.
Wuerker defended himself on Twitter and in a quote he gave the Washington Examiner, claiming that he merely meant to get people to think about the ironies of “an extreme example of anti-government types – Texas Secessionists – benefitting from the heroism of federal government rescuers.”
Sorry, Mr. Wuerker, but that dog don’t hunt. If the cartoon were really only about “making fun of the Secessionist movement,” as you claim, then why the need to include swipes at the tea party movement and religion?
More importantly, Wuerker has completely missed the spirit of what is happening in Texas right now. In his view, that Texan calling his rescuer an “Angel sent by God” is a ridiculous mistake to be mocked.
But for the many Texans who have watched their homes and vehicles devoured by Harvey’s floodwaters, faith is one of the forces giving them strength, and all rescuers — whether they are from the Coast Guard, FEMA, Louisiana’s volunteer “Cajun Navy,” or another Texan with a boat helping their community — are truly angels in their eyes.
This tweet, from Houston talk radio personality Michael Berry, captures the Texan spirit far more than anyone who would draw such a cartoon ever could:
— Michael Berry (@MichaelBerrySho) August 30, 2017
It’s easy to mock people you don’t know when you’re safe and dry, thousands of miles away from their suffering. For a much more accurate view of how Texans — and Americans from all over the country — are banding together to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, check out this article from Brandon Morse at The Blaze, or this from Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online. If you would like to donate to help, Texas Monthly has a detailed list of charities operating in the area.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.
The above post is the opinion of the author.