Liberal Cartoonist Defending Alleged 'Racist' Attack on Rice

Erin Brezsnyak and David Thibault | July 7, 2008 | 8:30pm EDT
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( - A nationally syndicated cartoonist, criticized for allegedly using racist themes to mock Secretary of State designate Condoleezza Rice, told that his comparison of Rice to the black maid Prissy in the film "Gone With the Wind" had nothing to do with race but came about "because [Rice] lied about a war."

"It's got nothing to do with the fact that she's black or anything else ... or even Republican," cartoonist Jeff Danziger told "She lied about ... or she was wrong and didn't know it, in which case she shouldn't be there."

Danziger said the Oct. 4 cartoon in question, which drew new criticism on Friday from the Faith Based Leadership Council, was never published in newspapers. It did, however, appear on Danziger's website until he removed it and issued an explanation.

The cartoon depicted Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, as an uneducated person contradicting herself over whether Saddam Hussein had obtained aluminum tubes needed to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb.

"I knows all about aluminum tubes," the cartoon depicted Rice as saying while sitting barefooted in a rocking chair. Below the caption was the word, "Correction" in parentheses, followed by a second caption that read, "I don't know nuthin' about aluminum tubes."

While Danziger pulled the cartoon from his website, it continues to circulate elsewhere on the Internet. The cartoon, and those produced by syndicated editorial artists Pat Oliphant and Garry Trudeau, are receiving more attention and criticism since the president last week nominated Rice to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state.

"Mr. Danzinger's, Mr. Oliphant's and Mr. Trudeau's racist depictions of Dr. Rice are of the most twisted Ku Klux Klan/Skinhead Mindset. I am astonished that the NAACP, Rainbow-Push and other traditional civil rights groups did not denounce this type of trash from the very first day it was reported," Oliver N.E. Kellman, Jr., executive director of the Faith Based Leadership Council, stated Friday.

In explaining his motivation for the "Prissy" cartoon, Danziger wrote last month that "the idea for the cartoon was suggested to me by a friend who is African American. It wasn't racist. Nor am I.

"Ms. Rice had told America that she knew for certain that the nuclear and mass destruction weapons existed," Danziger's letter continued. "Then once the war is on and over a thousand GIs get killed, she said ... that she didn't know anything for certain.

"She reminded me of Prissy, a character in the film 'Gone With the Wind,' who knew all about 'birthin' babies,' until an actual baby was on the way, and then she didn't know 'nuthin' about birthin' babies,' Danziger continued. "Whenever this administration is in trouble, they send out Condi Rice because the press ... gives her a far easier treatment than they would a white male."

During an interview with on Friday, Danziger initially sounded more humble than he had in the letter explaining his cartoon. "We didn't publish it. You make mistakes every once in awhile, and when we do, we just take them right back down," he said, before adding, "I don't know what these right-wing loonies are going on about."

When asked again to defend his comparison of Rice to a 1939 film character that's often been criticized as one of the most blatant examples of racial stereotyping, Danziger dismissed the issue's importance. "It's nothing. Rush Limbaugh or one of these guys started it and he doesn't know what he's talking about, as usual."

Kevin Martin of the Faith Based Leadership Council believes the only reason Danziger withdrew the "Prissy" cartoon is because Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch highlighted it in a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting to show how conservatives in the Bush administration were being treated by liberal cartoonists.

"Dr. Rice has been singled out for persecution by a handful of bigoted liberals who have characterized her as a steppin and fetchin sambo," the FBLC's Kellman added. "They feel threatened and disturbed by the fact that Dr. Rice will soon be the most powerful Black woman in the United States as Secretary of State."

See Earlier Story:
Black Clergy Denounces 'Racial Motivated Attacks' on Condoleezza Rice

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