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Shannon M. Whitworth: Cap Times' Esenberg cartoon takes political left to new lows

Shannon M. Whitworth: Cap Times' Esenberg cartoon takes political left to new lows

Dear Editor: I am continually shocked by the depths the political left will go to smear an opponent of their views, even though I should not be. The latest revolting example is a political cartoon published in the Capital Times, responding to a lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty wherein the Wisconsin Elections Commission has been ordered to remove 200,000 voter registrations because their addresses could not be verified. The cartoon by Mike Konopacki depicts WILL and its president, Rick Esenberg, as a hangman and displaying nooses as a “hoop” one would have to “jump through” to vote. The imagery and the message it attempted to convey was as obvious as it was preposterous.

As I black man, I have had my fill of the patronizing and condescending self-righteousness of these self-appointed white guardians who justify any gutter tactic in the name of their causes. I am appalled that the irony of publishing the cartoon as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (someone who never would have stooped so low) seems to be completely lost on the publisher. Of the racism I have experienced since I moved to Wisconsin over 25 years ago, the worst has come from white people on the political left who presume to tell me how bothered I should be about racism in Wisconsin. This self-flagellation to have black people absolve them as “one of the good ones” is as uncomfortable as it is pathetic. Further, do not champion yourselves as protectors of black people by presuming we are too stupid to figure out how to register to vote.

But I have been around the block enough times to know that this type of behavior has nothing to do with black people. This behavior is about the actors themselves. People who act like this do not want black people to be able to help themselves because that would preclude the actors from being the ones to do the helping. They will be a champion of black people (whether we want it or not) and all it will cost us is our dignity and self-respect.

As an attorney, I have come to know Rick Esenberg well. I have had him in my home, and I have been in his. I even volunteered for his organization (WILL) for a time. I still support their mission and their work. If Rick hates me because I am black, he has a strange way of showing it. Further, the cartoon indirectly besmirches Judge Paul Malloy, a judge I have appeared before countless times. I will tell anyone without reservation that he is one of the best judges Wisconsin has to offer.

To the creator and publisher of the cartoon, I will say this: If it were not for the respect I have for Rick and his reputation, I would have hoped that you left the cartoon up for all to see. I would let it be shown all day and night for months and months, so that others can see how much they are like you, even if they don’t know it yet. And I would hope it did not stop until it forced some introspection among those with a shred of maturity that you have become what you rail against. You are the racist. You are the oppressor. You are the one seeking to disenfranchise. You are no champion.

Shannon M. Whitworth


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