The Anderson County Review may be a tiny weekly newspaper in Garnett but stories about its recent content have been seen throughout the state and beyond. The newspaper’s editor and owner is Dane Hicks, who is also the county’s GOP chair. He has apologized for publishing a political cartoon likening face mask requirements to the Holocaust. It came out last Friday, as Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order on wearing face masks in public places went into effect.
The cartoon featured an image of Governor Kelly wearing a face mask with a Star of David on it. She was superimposed over a photo of Jewish people boarding trains for concentration camps. The caption read: “Lockdown Laura says: Put on your mask ... and step onto the cattle car.”
Hicks did not immediately apologize. According to the Associated Press, he referred to some of his social media critics as “liberal Marxist parasites” and said that, “as a traditional American, they are my enemy.”
Gross over-caricatures are common to political cartoons, Hicks said, adding they are designed to provoke debate. “The topic here is the governmental overreach which has been the hallmark of Governor Kelly’s administration,” he said.
Anderson County has only had six confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far and no deaths. The county has opted out of following the governor’s executive order. Hick said he was criticizing government overreach and was not intentionally being anti-Semitic.
But Hicks did later decide to remove his cartoon and apologize. According to his post on Facebook, “After some heartfelt and educational conversations with Jewish leaders in the U.S. and abroad, I can acknowledge the imagery in my recent editorial cartoon describing state government overreach in Kansas with images of the Holocaust was deeply hurtful to members of a culture who’ve been dealt plenty of hurt throughout history – people to whom I never desired to be hurtful in the illustration of my point.”
He also wrote, “It’s clear I should have chosen a less hurtful theme. It is not my intention to heap more grief onto this historical burden, and it’s apparent I previously lacked an adequate understanding of the severity of their experience and the pain of its images. To that end, I am removing the cartoon with apologies to those so directly affected.”
It’s time to stop comparing things we don’t like to the Holocaust. Apparently some people took time to engage in “heartfelt educational conversations” and Hicks at least got that message.