By Irish Echo Staff
Change the name please! That’s what the Ancient Order of Hibernians is asking of the presenters of a prestigious award for political cartooning named after famed i9th century illustrator Thomas Nast.
In a letter to the Overseas Press Club’s, the Ancient Order of Hibernians said that it was requesting that the club rename its prestigious award for political cartooning prior to accepting nominations for 2019.
Currently the award is named for Thomas Nast, a 19th Century illustrator who habitually depicted Irish immigrant as violent ape-like creatures, said AOH National Anti-Defamation Chair, Neil Cosgrove, who penned the letter to the club.
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Wrote Cosgrove: “I am writing to you as the Anti-Defamation Chairman of the Ancient Order of Hibernians regard the Overseas Press Club’s (OPC) Thomas Nast Award for Political Cartooning to respectfully request that the OPC consider renaming this prestigious award prior to soliciting nominations for 2019 rather than continuing to honor Thomas Nast, a well-documented bigot.
“The Hibernians are well aware that Thomas Nast is considered ‘The Father of the American Political Cartoon,’ that he gave us the symbol of the elephant to represent the Republican Party, that his drawings form the basis for the commonly accepted image of Santa Claus.
Continued Cosgrove in his letter: “However, there can be no disputing Thomas Nast’s anti-Irish, anti-Catholic prejudices with his numerous depictions of Irish immigrants as violent apes and Catholic Bishops as crocodiles.
“Nast’s drawings illustrate lesson plans in schools across the country as examples of 19th century anti-Immigrant intolerance. One cannot honor Nast the creator of Santa Clause without simultaneously honoring the draftsman of ‘The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things,’ ‘Killing the goose that laid the golden egg,’ ‘American Ganges,’ and many other defaming images targeting the Irish and Catholics.
“Amidst the current debate and controversy surrounding immigration, Political Cartoonists are rightly performing their journalistic duty to prick our conscience and foster discussion.
“Respectfully, it would be an embarrassment and hypocrisy if in 2019 a deserving Political Cartoonist should be recognized by the OPC for their work on the topic of immigration by giving them an award honoring a prejudiced chauvinist.
“The prestige of an OPC award should not be tarnished by memorializing the intolerance of Thomas Nast, the OPC can and should do better.”