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Thomas Nast's illustration of Irish Catholics (left) looking like a grumpy chimp Photo by: Google Images

Will New Jersey Hall of Fame induct Thomas Nast, a racist and anti-Irish Catholic?

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Thomas Nast's illustration of Irish Catholics (left) looking like a grumpy chimp Photo by: Google Images

One of Nast's portrayal's of the Irish

The continued controversy over Thomas Nast and his potential membership in the New Jersey Hall of Fame does not reflect well on that state.

The Asbury Park Press newspaper recently attacked Irish Americans in the state who have protested the nomination of Nast, a notorious anti Irish and anti Catholic cartoonist of the later 19th Century.

If portraying the Irish as drunken baboons and Catholic church leaders as man eating crocodiles is your cup of tea then certainly vote for Nast.

His caricature of the Irish became the prevailing one during those dreadful times.

He was enormously influential. His portrayal of Santa Claus became the universal image as did his portrayal of Republicans as elephants and Democrats as donkeys.

So when he stereotyped the Irish he did them enormous damage. Violence against them was widespread and Nast stirred the flames. See 'Gangs of New York' if you don't believe that.

Not that the Asbury Park Press seems to think so

"There’s no denying that some of his drawings wouldn’t fly today. But as historians point out, the troubling cartoons in question represent a tiny piece of a much broader and admirable body of work."

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Read More:
Irish anti-defamation league attacks New Jersey choice of Thomas Nast for Hall of Fame

New Jersey newspaper editorial defends anti-Irish, anti-Catholic cartoonist Thomas Nast

Irish and Catholic groups protest nomination of cartoonist into Hall of Fame
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"The bigger problem, says the editor, "is the danger of viewing history through the prism of today’s morality."

That's an interesting concept. We could view the KKK through the same prism. Either hating blacks was wrong in the 19th and 20th century or it wasn't.

Likewise with Jews and fascism.

Would the Asbury Park Press then defend the KKK or Nazis as symbolic of their time and worthy of revisionism?

It might be interesting to ask them.

Racists of whatever era have no place in Halls of Fame.

Ss Assemblyman Scott Rudder noted "Nast’s representation of the people of Ireland and Catholics was incendiary and damaging,” Rudder said. “His hateful rhetoric should have disqualified him from any Hall of Fame discussion. I have asked the executive director of the Hall of Fame (Don Jay Smith) to have him removed from consideration immediately.”

Smith should take this advice.

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