Echo’s KKK Comic Stirs Criticism at Eastern Michigan

Another comic scandal has befallen collegemediatopia.  The staff of The Eastern Echo at Eastern Michigan University has apologized for the recent publication of a KKK-themed editorial cartoon that caused an uproar on campus.

The image depicts a small group of white hood-wearing individuals gathered around a noose tied indelicately to a tree branch. In the foreground, a couple eye each other through their hoods.  The words displayed beneath them: “Honey, this is the tree where we met.”

As the Echo explained in a post-publication statement about the cartoon’s aim: “The cartoon points out the hypocrisy of hate-filled people. Its intent was to ask how can someone show affection for one person while at the same time hating someone else enough to commit such a heinous act as hanging.”

Reactions have run the gamut.  One EMU student even filmed and uploaded a video to YouTube showing him throwing away a stack of Echo issues in disgust.  In his words, “My first thought was ‘Why would the Echo allow this to be published?’ It’s not socially relevant to anything going on in the world or on campus, so it’s uncalled for.”

One positive outcome of the cartoon’s publication: a school-wide forum hosted by EMU’s provost meant to address the controversy and its larger implications. According to the Echo, “Some members of the audience seemed to be in support of the comic, feeling it wasn’t offensive, others were extremely upset about the comic and some disagreed with the comic but supported the idea of free speech.”

3 Responses to “Echo’s KKK Comic Stirs Criticism at Eastern Michigan”
  1. Michael Westendorf says:


    FIRE’s Robert Shibley puts it perfectly:

    Despite the fact that the cartoon at EMU was mocking racists, EMU President Susan Martin quickly jumped on her high horse and released a statement expressing concern about “hate imagery” and announcing a seminar about “hate and hate symbols” as an “initial step” towards increasing campus dialogue about “race and social matters.” (I’ll bet the later steps are going to involve hiring more highly paid administrators.)

    Earth to college administrators: there is no reason to panic if your students are mocking the Ku Klux Klan. “Hate symbols” are not magically always evil. They can be powerful, but their power lies in their ability to effectively communicate a message. This cartoon communicated the message that it is paradoxical and absurd to find love at an event designed around hate and violence. It is unfair and frankly inaccurate to suggest that The Eastern Echo advanced the cause of racial hatred by publishing this cartoon—and anyone reading the cartoon, especially a college president, should know better.

  2. Bobby Burns says:

    The State Hornet (California State University, Sacramento) faced similar public criticism following the publishing of a comic titled “Why baseball is the best sport ever” on September 29. The backlash has lasted 2 weeks and is just starting to die down. However, the cartoonist has yet to draw another cartoon for the newspaper. The comic brought to light issues such as rape, homosexuality, domestic violence, and race.

    Similar to the Echo, The State Hornet issued a formal apology for the cartoon after a public uproar occurred after publication.

    The apology and cartoonist’s statement can be found on The State Hornet Opinion web page:

    The comic was removed from the web site the day after publication.

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