Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, was the target of a “race-baiting” political cartoon that was published in the Washington Times and the illustration has provoked a major backlash from civil rights groups.
On Thursday, a cartoon featuring Adegbile and convicted murderer Mumia Abu Jamal was published in the Washington Times. It depicted Adegbile holding up a sign that reads “Cop Killer” with a puppet version of Jamal over his shoulder in a prison jumpsuit.
Adegbile is the NAACP Legal Defense Fund official who is known for his work defending Jamal, who was accused of killing a police officer.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, slammed the cartoon as “reminiscent of the racist iconography of late 19th century America, designed to dehumanize and stereotype African-Americans who were only beginning to throw off the shackles of chattel slavery.”
Ever since Obama nominated Adegbile, he has become the target of much scrutiny by the public.
According to Henderson, however, that is merely the result of “race-baiting” politics.
“Until today, we’ve ignored the race-baiting and dog whistle politics that form the basis of opposition to Debo Adegbile’s nomination to head the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice,” Henderson said in a public statement. “We’ve disregarded the distortions about Adegbile’s efforts to ensure that all Americans can live and work free of discrimination, and we’ve thoughtfully debunked the fearmongering around his work on death-penalty cases like that Mumia Abu Jamal.”
Despite heavy criticism by conservatives of Adegbile’s work, the head of the American Bar Association felt that he deserved praise.
Adegbile’s work was described as being “consistent with the finest tradition of this country’s legal profession and should be commended, not condemned.”
Henderson compared the cartoon to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s.
“This type of character assassination harkens back to the baseless and unrelenting attacks by Senator Joseph McCarthy during the 1950s McCarthy hearings, which led counsel Joseph Welch to ask Senator McCarthy, ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?’ “ Henderson said. “ ‘Have you left no sense of decency?’ “
The National Law Journal has also released findings that suggest hypocrisy of conservatives’ criticism of Adegbile’s nomination.
According to the journal, conservative Chief Justice John Roberts also represented a man who was on death row after he was “convicted in the murder of eight people.”