In case youve forgotten, here’s the Pat Oliphant WaPo cartoon we’ve been blogging about:
We’ve read editorials and letters to the WaPo editors from numerous folks – Fontova, de la Cova, Eire – all which, as you will learn with the following letter from Prof. Carlos Eire, fell upon deaf ears:
On the Oliphant issue: I got a hold of someone at the Washington Post, a Yale alumnus. He was kind enough to reply to my letter, but politely informed me they could not print it. I expected that. Then he let me know that the Post had not run the Oliphant cartoon in its print edition. They had only posted it on the web, on Aug. 22. He has forwarded my complaint to the ombudsman at the Post, and also to the website department that ran the cartoon. Let’s see what happens. I also tried to track down Mr. Oliphant himself, but the best I could do is to find the syndicate that distributes his cartoons. So I wrote the man a letter, and sent him a copy of my book. In the process I also found out that he is an immigrant too, from Australia. I append the letter below.
And here is the professor’s absolutely brilliant response to Oliphant himself:
Mr. Pat Oliphant
c/o Universal Press Syndicate
4520 Main Street
Kansas City, MO 64111-7701
Dear Mr. Oliphant:
Er… ahem…(tug on forelock; head bowed in deference; a shuffling of feet)….Please excuse me, sir. You are so far superior a human being, and I so unworthy of sharing the same space with you, even through a letter; I tremble as I address you. Please do not strike back in righteous anger. I should know better than to address my betters directly, especially those who have the power to sway public opinion with an acid brush. But this is an emergency: I do need to point out to you that Cuban-American men do not wear fedoras.
As a historian, and a professional pedant, I have to care about such details.
And….perhaps you neglected to costume Uncle Sam in the correct garb? Shouldn’t he be wearing a white robe with a peaked hood? And shouldn’t the shadowy figure on the shoreline be standing next to a burning cross?
If I may, I would also like to ask you a question. What kind of response do you think you would have received if you had placed some other nationality or ethnic group in the boat? African Americans? Asians? Jews? Italians Mexicans? Arabs?
Please do not take umbrage at my temerity, but I also feel compelled to enclose a gift. It’s a book filled with all sorts of information about our sorely benighted culture. It may help you avoid further inaccuracies in the future, should you deem us Cuban exiles worthy of your ridicule again.
From the back of the bus, where I belong– but without a fedora– I remain your humble servant, ever eager to do your menial chores and to receive the abuse I so richly deserve as a spic and a nuisance.
Carlos M. N. Eire
T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies
Chair, Renaissance Studies Program
A thing of beauty if I ever read one.
Update: Via Scoitt G. Here’s a link to Marti’s letter “A Vindication of Cuba.” (just scroll down a bit). All I can say is, Wow!
Update II: You can read Marti’s letter in its entirety here, where you’ll be able to copy and paste and print. This letter should hang on the wall in the home of every Cuban living in exile. H/T RR.