Journalist Ash Sarkar calls out vile racist tropes in VICE cartoon

Ash Sarkar and Vice logo
Ed Sykes

Racist cartoons usually fill far-right papers like the Daily Mail. Few would expect them from liberal outlets too. But “millennial-focused” VICE UK now seems to have joined the club.

Its targets? High-profile figures on the mainstream British left like Diane Abbott, Owen Jones, and Ash Sarkar – all of whom represent minority groups in the UK.

The VICE cartoon portrayed Abbott as a large, aggressive figure, Jones as weak and impotent, and Sarkar with a rocket launcher. There seemed to be little reflection on the fact that these people have long been targets of disgustingly racist, homophobic, and sexist abuse.

VICE cartoon

Ash Sarkar: “this stinks”

Novara journalist Sarkar said the cartoon was “out of line”, especially considering that all three figures have faced death threats:

She also criticised its use of racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic tropes:

And she summed up:

Others were also clearly unhappy with the cartoon:

The media must not pour fuel onto the fire

VICE UK editor Jamie Clifton later tweeted:

He also said:

I unreservedly apologise for the offence caused.

So VICE UK took the feedback, and acted. Credit is due. But at the time of writing, the image was still up on VICE UK‘s Twitter account. And the question remains as to how someone allowed the publication of this vile cartoon in the first place.

Today, there’s an incredibly hostile political environment in the UK. A far-right terrorist murdered Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016. Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, meanwhile, received “more racist tweets and online racism than all the other women MPs put together” in the 2017 election race. And as Sarkar pointed out, both politicians and journalists have faced death threats.

The media must not pour fuel onto the fire. It must strive to put the fire out. Anything less than that is unacceptable. And we must hold all media outlets – both left and right – to much higher standards.

Featured image via WikiCommons – Fraufa / WikiCommons – Jwslubbock

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Ed Sykes