June 30th, 2019 – A Canadian political cartoonist has been let go by several newspapers after drawing Donald Trump golfing past dead migrants. Micheal de Adder made the announcement on Twitter saying his cartoons would no longer appear in several prominent newspapers in New Brunswick.
The photo of El Salvadoran migrants Oscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, face down in the Rio Grande, clinging to each other was a chilling reality for many to see. For a cartoonist, their death mixed with President Trump’s hateful rhetoric toward asylum seekers was an opportunity for creative expression.
In the cartoon, the father and daughter are drawn exactly as they were in the now-viral photo with the addition of Trump and his golf cart going about his day. “Do you mind if I play through” the president asks.
de Adder has taken aim at Trump and his administration before with focus on his relationship with the press and climate change, to name a few. He’s previously drawn Trump blow drying a block of ice next to a polar bear and using former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders as a puppet spewing his lies. But no other drawing has caused as much of a stir or landed him on the canned list as the migrant golf creation.
The ax came just two days after de Adder first shared the controversial drawing, but in that short time the cartoon found a pretty wide reach. What it ironically never reached, however, was publication. No newspapers in the province actually ran the cartoon but plenty of high profile figures shared it online.
Travon Free, a comedian and writer for The Daily Show, Full Frontal, and Camping, thought the piece should make its way to Paris.
News of de Adder’s firing has sparked conversations of free speech and the power of private businesses owning newspapers. Wes Tyrell, president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists, issued a statement following the news slamming J.D. Irving, Limited — owner of several New Brunswick papers.
“Michael told me once that not only were the J.D. Irving owned New Brunswick newspapers challenging to work for, but there were a series of taboo subjects he could not touch. One of these taboo subjects was Donald Trump,” he said. “The trope of political figures golfing and showing disdain for issues has been seen before, but deAdder’s take hit a nerve. It went viral and social media stars like George Takei even shared it. For a brief period de Adder was the poster boy for the Anti-Trump movement. A good place to be if you’re a cartoonist, but a bad place to be if you work for a foreign oil company with business ties to the United States. A solid reason why an oil company has no business owning newspapers.”
For his part, de Adder stressed that he wasn’t technically fired since he was only under contract with certain newspapers but said the loss will be hard to take as a born-and-raised local resident speaking for his community. While stressing that he doesn’t want turn this moment into a victim grab, he also expressed disbelief that he would lose so much from a never-published cartoon.
I’m not the type of person who’s going to make a career out of being fired.I’m still successfully drawing cartoons for other publications.I just need to recoup a percentage of my weekly income and get used to the idea I no longer have a voice in my home province.