The state Republican Party is condemning an editorial cartoon in today's Concord Monitor that depicts House Speaker William O'Brien with a Hitler-style mustache.
The cartoon, by Mike Marland, shows a bearded man with "Speaker O'Brien" on his hat, with a Hitler-style mustache. The man is holding a razor, with the caption "If The Mustache Fits..." over his head.
State Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, when he shouted "Sieg Heil" at O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, during discussion of the Voter ID bill. Vaillancourt on the House floor.
In a press release issued today, Republican State Committee Chairman Wayne MacDonald criticized the Monitor's cartoon, saying it is "insulting to the institution of the State House" and "should offend all New Hampshire citizens." He called on the newspaper to retract the cartoon and apologize to O'Brien.
“It wasn’t long ago that Democrat Governor John Lynch called for ‘a civil tone in debates,'" MacDonald continued. "Leaders on both sides of the aisle have rightly condemned what was a harshly inappropriate action last week. It’s unfortunate to witness the abandonment of these principles by the Concord Monitor in a way that disrespects our government and the People’s House.”
Concord Monitor Editor Felice Belman wrote a blog post today headlined "Did the mustache cartoon go too far?" that addresses the Republican Party's press release. Here's what she had to say:
"We make room for lots of different views in the Monitor Opinion pages. We’re not looking only for opinions that the newspaper’s editorial board supports – and we don’t ask that our columnists or letter-writers or our cartoonist agree with the board. In fact, in Tuesday’s edition we published an editorial (written by me) that came to a different conclusion about Vaillancourt: 'No, Vaillancourt should not have evoked Adolf Hitler in making his case on the House floor. No, O’Brien should not have squelched the comments of a Democratic lawmaker attempting to make his case on pending legislation.'
When Marland submitted the O’Brien cartoon, there was significant discussion here among the senior editors and our publisher about whether to put it into the paper. In the end, we are not Marland’s censors. He is entitled to his view of the speaker, and his views are his own. This cartoon was harsh, no doubt. But it seemed on point, given last week’s circus. In fact, several Monitor letter writers have made a similar point – in words, if not images.
The point of an editorial cartoon is to get your attention and make you think. In that, for sure, Marland has succeeded."
In response to an email asking for his response to the flap, Marland said only, "I'll be responding with my pen & ink."
The House Republican Office also sent out a press release this afternoon from state Rep. Robert Kingsbury, R-Laconia, who served in World War II.
Kingsbury called the Monitor cartoon "a deeply cutting, personal, inflammatory insult" and said he is "appalled any American would say or depict such a thing." He added that "any comparison of any American political figure to Adolf Hitler is abhorrent to all who suffered the horrors of the Holocaust ..."
Later in the afternoon, the House Republican Office sent out a second email titled, "Open Letter to Concord Monitor Editor Felice Belman," which was signed by House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, and more than three dozen other Republican state representatives.
The letter demanded that Belman denounce the cartoon and issue an apology.
"While Mr. Marland is entitled to be provocative in how he makes his point, he should be ashamed of himself and apologize to the Speaker as well. And so should you," the letter reads.