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Posted: February 15, 2017

Political cartoon comparing Betsy DeVos to Ruby Bridges criticized

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

By Kelcie Willis

Cox Media Group National Content Desk

A political cartoon by Glenn McCoy published in the Belleville News-Democrat Sunday is being criticized for what some are saying is an inappropriate comparison to Ruby Bridges, who was the first black child to integrate William Frantz Elementary School, an all-white school, in New Orleans in 1960.

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According to The Huffington Post, the cartoon printed in the Belleville, Illinois, newspaper shows Education Secretary Betsy DeVos walking and flanked by tall men.

McCoy's cartoon appears to be a comparison of a famous Norman Rockwell painting called "The Problem We All Live With." It shows Bridges being escorted by federal marshals into a school, with a racial slur written on a wall and a tomato thrown against the wall. "KKK" is also on the wall, standing for the Ku Klux Klan.

Conservative cartoonist McCoy illustrated DeVos in a similar fashion, with the word "conservative" written on a wall similarly to the racial slur, and the anarchy symbol illustrated on the wall. Instead of KKK, McCoy drew "N.E.A.," an abbreviation for National Education Association, the country's largest teachers' union.

Twitter posted some reactions in a Moments feature Tuesday:

BuzzFeed News reported that the cartoon was drawn days after protesters blocked DeVos from entering a public middle school in Washington, D.C., while chanting, "Shame!" She eventually got in the building at a different entrance.

Many reacted negatively to the image on Twitter, criticizing it for its apparent comparison, including Chelsea Clinton.

USA Today reported that DeVos has been criticized by teachers groups for her lack of public school experience. According to The Washington Post, DeVos, a billionaire, has a history of supporting alternatives to public schools and has referred to the public school system as "a dead end."

McCoy responded to criticism on the cartoon in a comment on a Facebook post from the Belleville News-Democrat:

My cartoon was about how, in this day and age, decades beyond the civil rights protests, it’s sad that people are still being denied the right to speak freely or do their jobs or enter public buildings because others disagree with who they are or how they think …  I thought I was speaking out against hate. It’s a woman passively walking while being protected from angry protesters. Isn’t that what went down the other day when DeVos visited a school to do her job? You may disagree with her on issues but I didn’t see any hate coming from her. I did, however see hate going in the other direction which is what made me think of the Rockwell image. That was the only comparison I was drawing. The level of toxicity in today’s political climate has reached ridiculous levels


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