This submission, while well-intentioned, didn't see the light of day. I'll let my editor, Tony Fins, explain--while I think his point is valid, I do take slight umbrage at the first sentence, specifically, "even Chan," which implies I'm an insensitive monolith. Only my wife can talk to me that way. Herewith:
The problem on this one was so obvious I can't believe even Chan didn't see it. Though not Chan's intention, it suggests that all Muslims are whackos. We all should know that's not the case -- and we have enough problems already with people that can't make that distinction without extending, through misinterpretation, the stereotype.The cartoon would have worked if Chan had drawn an unassuming profiling victim who looked as unassuming as the way he drew Terry Nichols. That would have been an effective cartoon.
Tony's right that I wouldn't want to suggest Muslims are whackos. In fact, as I implied by using Terry Nichols as my example, there are more than enough Christian whackos to go around. I did intend to make the point, though, that the profiling law was bound to be misused, and that it was precisely Muslims and others of Arabic descent who were most likely to suffer the consequences of its abuse (people who are afraid act in less-than-responsible ways). The guy in the cartoon is startled by having the spotlight thrown on him, not nuts. To draw a generic, unassuming victim would have eviscerated the point of the cartoon, in my opinion.
I will concede, however, that it's an editor's job to make the call on whether a cartoon is likely to be misinterpreted.