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Indianapolis newspaper alters, then deletes racist Thanksgiving cartoon following complaints

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Responding to criticism that a cartoon depicting undocumented immigrants coming through a window to share Thanksgiving dinner with a white family was racist, an Indiana newspaper edited out the stereotyped housebreaker’s mustache, ostensibly to make the cartoon seem less racist.

The Indianapolis Star ran the cartoon by editorial cartoonist Gary Varvel showing a family coming in through the window to share in the holiday meal, with the house owner announcing to his family and guests, “Thanks to the president’s immigration order we’ll be having extra guests this Thanksgiving.”

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The cartoon comes a day after President Barack Obama signed two executive actions that would delay deportation for millions of illegal immigrants.

In the original cartoon, seen below, the man coming through the window sports a black bushy mustache and ball-cap suggesting a Hispanic man. Following complaints and mockery on Twitter over the implicit racism of the cartoon, the paper edited out the mustache, also seen below.

Moments after Twitter lit up mocking the edit, the paper pulled the cartoon down from their website without explanation. (Updated below)

Commenters also mocked the concept of the cartoon, noting Thanksgiving was first celebrated by undocumented pilgrims who sat down to a meal with the native-born indigenous people of the “new world”.

Writer Roy Edroso commented, “Too many layers of derp for 1 tweet but: he knows what Thanksgiving’s *about,* right?”

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(UPDATE) Late Saturday the Indianapolis Star addressed the controversial cartoon, saying they “erred in publishing” it.

Executive editor Jeff Taylor wrote, “On Friday, we posted a Gary Varvel cartoon at indystar.com that offended a wide group of readers. Many of them labeled it as racist. Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive in his attempt to express his strong views about President Barack Obama’s decision to temporarily prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States. But we erred in publishing it.”

“The cartoon depicted an immigrant family climbing through a window of a white family’s home as Thanksgiving dinner was served. I was uncomfortable with the depiction when I saw it after it was posted. We initially decided to leave the cartoon posted to allow readers to comment and because material can never truly be eliminated once it is circulating on the web. But we are removing the cartoon from the opinion section of our website, as well as an earlier version posted on Facebook that showed one character with a mustache.”

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Gary Varvel cartoon original (Indy Star)

Gary Varvel cartoon original (Indy Star)

Varvel edited cartoon (Indy Star)

Gary Varvel edited cartoon (Indy Star)

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