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Letter to the Editor: Political commentary needs to be culturally sensitive, mindful

By Jerry Kang and Monroe Gorden

Feb. 13, 2017 6:53 p.m.

We are grateful that the Daily Bruin has apologized for the offensive editorial cartoon that ran in yesterday’s edition. As individuals, and in our organizational capacities, we have repeatedly emphasized the need for collective humility – to realize when we have hurt others, to show the courage to admit error and to manifest the integrity to make amends.

In a diverse culture, it’s presumptuous to think that we fully know and understand each other; accordingly, we should be mindful about misusing or maligning deeply held cultural or religious touchstones. As the Bruin noted in its apology, “it’s wrong to perpetuate harmful stereotypes – intentional or otherwise.”

We understand that political cartoons have a long history as an important means of political debate. Unfortunately, that history also includes times when editorial pages have descended into racist and anti-Semitic imagery. We can and must do better than that. Speech has consequences.

None of us would like core symbols of our identity appropriated or mocked, and we should be vigilant in objecting if it happens to others. In our fall message to the community, we called upon the campus to elevate the political discourse and reject cheap shots and caricature.

We renew that call today. As we pursue our political passions we must strive to do so without demeaning each other. Wielding the power of the pen carries with it also the responsibility to remember that words and images matter.

Kang is the vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Gorden is the interim vice chancellor for Student Affairs.

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