I’ve had a crazy week since I drew a cartoon of the Mexican flag [see above], with the eagle shot dead by a stream of machine gun bullets. The cartoon illustrates the terrible violence in Mexico. Since President Felipe Calderón announced his war on the drug cartels, over 28,000 people have been killed in a civil war that shows no sign of easing. I got a spirited, angry reaction on my blog and in e-mails from Mexican readers who objected to my “desecration of the sacred Mexican flag.”
My cartoon appeared at the same time as Calderón‘s state of the union address to Mexico’s Congress in which Calderón claimed to be making progress in the worsening drug war. Mexico’s conservative, national newspaper Reforma, and other papers in their chain, published my cartoon at the top of their front pages. The convenient timing of my cartoon “scandal” was an opportunity for Reforma to make an effective front page dig at Calderón, and soon the cartoon was picked up by almost all of the other Mexican newspapers. The Mexican Embassy in Washington responded to the cartoon with a letter to my home publication, msnbc.com, stoking the cartoon controversy even more.
Many outraged Mexican readers pointed out that it is against the law in Mexico to alter the image of the flag – a law that didn’t deter Mexican newspapers from printing the cartoon.
There are raw nerves all around. I’m still being deluged with online comments and e-mails, half from angry Mexicans who think the image of their flag must never be tampered with. The Mexican mail is laced with colorful profanity, about how America is the cause of all of Mexico’s problems, with our demand for drugs and our guns fueling the violence.
The rest of the responses are supportive of my cartoon, some from Mexicans who say my cartoon describes how they feel, others from angry Americans who see any criticism of Mexico as supportive of their anti-immigrant fervor. Conservative readers seem to take glee in sending me dozens of...
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