Politico deleted a tweet on Wednesday with a cartoon showing a victim of Hurricane Harvey being rescued by a federal emergency responder.
Drawn by Matt Wuerker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, the cartoon shows a person in a Confederate flag shirt being rescued from a flooded house with a secessionist sign. A “Don’t Tread on Me” flag is also pictured.
A rescuer in the cartoon points out that the federal government sent the helicopter to rescue people from their flooded homes.
Politico deleted the tweet after many conservative pundits and writers at right-leaning websites criticized the cartoon, saying it was insensitive and shamed victims of the hurricane.
That Politico cartoon is idiotic and insulting for a bunch of reasons. https://t.co/ktQ3xQQHdV
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 30, 2017
Really Politico? Dana Loesch, Jesse Kelly, Brandon Darby and others respond to disgusting cartoon https://t.co/HdvGlBxcGy
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) August 30, 2017
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) August 30, 2017
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) August 30, 2017
Similarly, The Washington Post described the cartoon as “tone-deaf” and “unhelpful,” saying it was a “needlessly vast oversimplification of a very complex issue at a very sensitive time.”
“It’s almost a caricature of what you’d expect a liberal cartoonist to draw in response to conservative Texans relying upon the government in their time of crisis,” said Aaron Blake, a Post blogger. “The Confederate flag T-shirt. The Gadsden Flag. The reference to being saved by God (which seems extremely dismissive of Christianity). The Texas secession banner. It’s all kind of … predictable?”
Wuerker defended his cartoon, saying it skewered secessionists and those who disparage the federal government writ large while taking its services for granted.
“As a political cartoonist, I try to get people to think – to consider the ironies and subtleties of the world we live in,” Wuerker said in an email to Business Insider.
“This cartoon went with an extreme example of anti-government types – Texas secessionists – benefitting from the heroism of federal government rescuers,” Wuerker continued. “It of course was not aimed at Texans in general, any more than a cartoon about extremists marching in Charlottesville could be construed as a poke at all Virginians. My heart is with all the victims of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction and those risking their lives to save others.”
Wednesday’s cartoon wasn’t the first time critics had admonished or mocked Wuerker. Farhad Manjoo, a journalist, once described the Politico cartoonist’s style as “a clichéd, pox-on-both-your-houses approach.”