Story at a glance
- The New York Daily News is being criticized for publishing a satirical cartoon of mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.
- Yang, an Asian American, was depicted in the cartoon as a stereotypical New York City tourist, despite being born in the state and living in the city for 25 years.
- The publication has defended the cartoon, alleging that the satire was directed towards Yang’s “major gaps in his knowledge of New York City politics and policy.”
- Critics say that the cartoon will only help to fuel the fire of racism that the Asian American community has been facing.
Political cartoons have often been a source of controversy over the years, with the latest satirizing Asian American mayoral candidate Andrew Yang as a typical tourist, running happily out of the Times Square subway station in New York City as onlookers remark, “the tourists are back!”
The cartoon was published by a cartoonist named Bill Bramhall, who is working for the New York Daily News. It’s believed to be drawn in connection with a unique recent interview Yang participated in with comedian and talk show host Ziwe Fumudoh, in which he shared that his favorite subway station is Times Square.
“It’s my stop, so Times Square,” Yang answered, when asked to name his favorite station. “It’s big. It’s cavernous. There are entertainers there. What’s not to like?”
Throughout his mayoral campaign, Yang has faced criticism about his alleged authenticity as a New Yorker. Despite having been born in New York state and living in New York City for the past 25 years, critics have been quick to question why Yang has reportedly never participated in local elections during his tenure in the city, and why he decided to flee the city during the pandemic for his second home in New Paltz.
Josh Greenman, the editorial page editor for the news source that published the controversial cartoon, had this to say in defense of it:
“Andrew Yang is a leading contender to be mayor of New York City, and as commentators, his opponents and The News editorial board have recently pointed out, he’s recently revealed there are major gaps in his knowledge of New York City politics and policy. Nor has he ever voted in a mayoral election,” Greenman said. “Bill Bramhall’s cartoon is a comment on that, period, end of story. This is not a racial stereotype or racist caricature.”
Regardless of the cartoonist’s intentions, experts are saying that drawing stereotypical bonds between Asian Americans and foreigners is dangerous for the community, which has been experiencing a tragic uptick in hate crimes. Over the past year, anti-Asian hate incidents reported across the U.S. have spiked from about 100 annually to almost 3,800, according to advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate.
These statistics were echoed by Yang’s wife Evelyn Yang, who tweeted, “I can’t believe my eyes. To publish this racist disfiguration of @AndrewYang as a tourist, in NYC where I was born, where Andrew has lived for 25 years, where our boys were born, where 16% of us are Asian and anti-Asian hate is up 900%. #StopAsianHate.”
This is disgusting and wrong. Every single day Asian Americans have to fight the notion that we are foreigners. We are here and we’re not going anywhere. That’s why AAPI representation like @andrewyang is so important. Do better @NYDailyNews https://t.co/2eMcYay2Wx
— AAPI Victory Alliance (@aapialliance) May 24, 2021
Many agree that cartoons that further the rhetoric that Asians are foreigners will further encourage hatred and discrimination against Asians, such as Aerin Chen who commented below the cartoon on Twitter, calling it “very hurtful,” and writing, “Do you know why hate crimes have been rising? This.”
Yang himself addressed the controversy at a Tuesday afternoon press conference held outside a Queens subway station where an Asian man had recently been pushed onto the tracks.
“Hate is tearing our city apart, and we need it to stop, we need it to end,” said Yang. “Some of my opponents in this race have actually characterized some of us as being more New York than others — as if some of us belong here more than other people. … I am here to say that that is wrong. None of us is more New York than anyone else. We all belong here.”
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