This strip by Johannes Leak, published on 13 August on The Australianwas branded racist and other things by some journalists, various members of the public and even politicians.
In the first cartoon Joe Biden says:
“It’s time to heal a nation divided by racism”.
In the second he points to and introduces Kamala Harris as a solution and then says he is going to bed. He refers to Harris as “Little brown girl”, which can be translated as little brown girl.
Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia rates the joke as racist, sexist and disgusting:
“So how on earth does Murdoch’s publisher, Chris Dore, justify publishing a racist and sexist cartoon about a US senator who is likely to be the next vice president of the United States? Murdoch is a mouthpiece for Trump. But this is disgusting even by Murdoch’s sewer standards.”
Andrew Giles, Labour member of parliament, considers which is racist and offensive.
“This morning a cartoon depicting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris appears in The Australian newspaper. It is offensive and racist
. There should be no place for this in Australia, it belittles us all. It’s time for zero tolerance of racism and a national anti-racism strategy”.
Mark Dreyfus, former Attorney General, believes said the newspaper should apologise
“If The Australian has any respect for decency and standards, it should apologise immediately and not publish cartoons like this again.”
Others, such as former Labor leader Mark Latham, were delighted with the cartoon, they say are delighted with the cartoon.
“I love Leak’s cartoon in Oz
today. Magnificent. And leftists (including Biden) who took away Kamala Harris’s individuality with the identity politics of a brown-skinned girl of colour (actually of Indian cultural/familial background) and say they are outraged today: Go get stuffed.” (Something like “go get stuffed”).
From The Conversation they headline; “Australian’s racist Kamala Harris cartoon shows why diversity in the newsroom matters” and allusion is made to the “long history of racist cartoons” in the Australian media.
Reaction from the newspaper
Asked by The Guardian AustraliaThe paper’s editor-in-chief, Chris Dore, said that “Johannes was quoting Biden’s words” and seized on this tweet that Joe Biden posted a day before the cartoon appeared.
This morning, little girls woke up across this nation — especially Black and Brown girls who so often may feel overlooked and undervalued in our society — potentially seeing themselves in a new way: As the stuff of Presidents and Vice Presidents.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 12, 2020
However, Biden was referring to “black and brown girls who often feel ignored and undervalued in our society” and who might be inspired by Harris’ candidacy, not Harris herself. To this, Crhis Dore replied: “The words “black and brown girls” belong to US presidential candidate Joe Biden, not Johannes Leak. All in all, a rather absurd looping discussion that again moved from the realm of the joke to the literal.
Dore called on colleagues the newspaper’s “Dore” told the press to support the cartoonist accused of racism because when “one of our own” faces “vile, personal and unjustified attacks”, it’s important to support him.
Perhaps Biden’s tweet alone was not enough of a reference for the staff to get the point of the joke, which, I confess, I don’t quite get the humorous intent of even with the reference. Maybe there’s some twist of Australian slang or something hidden that might be funny there, or considered laughable irony that escapes me.
About Johannes Leak
In late 2019, Johannes “inherited ” the editorial cartoonist position at The Australian held by his father, Bill Leak, since 1994. Bill Leak died in March 2017 and was sacked with tributes and praise, but also with messages of repudiation. During his long tenure as the paper’s main cartoonist, he raised more than a few eyebrows over a number of controversial cartoons, some of them quite controversial over the top.
Thus, under the long shadow of his father’s style, Australia’s most controversial and award-winning cartoonist, it didn’t take long for his first row to break out, which was no great surprise given the family background.
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