A labor and social justice roundtable at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) hosted on campus last weekend featured political cartoons prominently displayed along hallways depicting Republicans as a caricature of the infamous ISIS terrorist “Jihadi John” and as molesters.
Other cartoons at the event included a swastika overlapping a Confederate flag and one depicting Tea Partiers as frothing-at-the-mouth lunatics.
The political cartoons were drawn by Huck/Konopacki, a duo specializing in cartoons about labor unions. According to event attendee Matthew Harkins ’16, the two were invited because their cartoons are syndicated in various labor movement publications and they have been invited to past ILR roundtables.
At the event, the cartoonists discussed their involvement in the recent organized labor and right-to-work political battles in Wisconsin, according to Harkins.
The event was the Thirteenth Annual Labor Roundtable and connects students to representatives from labor unions and social justice organizations, according to ILR News.
“The roundtable is a unique event that educates students, through small group discussions with labor leaders, on current issues in the labor movement and allows them to learn about a variety of unions and non-governmental organizations working toward advancing worker rights,” Rachel Aleks, assistant professor in the Department of Labor Relations, Law, and History, was quoted saying.
A few days after the event, Dean of the ILR School Kevin Hallok wrote an email to ILR students addressing complaints about the images being offensive.
“I hope the ILR school can flourish as a place where we discuss difficult issues and one where the members of our community feel safe and supported. I also hope that we can continue to prepare leaders who will help others increase inclusion, sensitivity and tolerance far beyond our school,” Hallock wrote.
Of course, Hallock is right. The ILR school and the social justice-loving students and faculty are within their right of freedom of speech to hang whatever posters they want.
Still, this incident is indicative of the poor education students in the ILR school are receiving in regards to what Republicans and conservatives actually stand for. Faculty and administrators gleefully hanging these posters also doesn’t help prepare ILR students to become better union organizers. All it does it each students to think “molester” or “terrorist” when sitting down at the negotiating table with Republicans and conservatives. What a valuable skill-set and how proud ILR should be of itself.
Furthermore, do recognize that no Republicans and conservatives on campus have decried the images as “offensive” or “triggering” and none has retreated to a “safe space” to recuperate after experiencing “trauma.”
So we see who the real winners are.