Above: Thomas Nast: not worthy?
The New Jersey Hall of Fame wants to induct Thomas Nast. This 19th century cartoonist created (according to his Wikipedia page):
"... the iconic drawings of Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, the Republican Party elephant, the Democratic Party donkey and Columbia, the image of America as a woman."
And he brought down Tammany Hall.
But the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which is part of the New Jersey Hall of Fame, points out that Mr. Nast was a bigot. Nast, who was a German Protestant, was anti-Irish, and anti-Irish Catholic. He portrayed the Irish as drunks in his cartoons.
Worse yet, the New Jersey Hall of Fame did not call upon the AOH to vote.
New Jersey AOH State President, Sean Pender, wrote Don Jay Smith, Executive Director of the Hall of Fame.
“Mr. Nast made no bones about his disrespect and contempt towards the Irish Catholics of the late nineteenth century. What is further hard to believe is that the procedure that your organization employs to review nominations did not come across this.”
More here, from Ray O'Hanlon, writing for the Irish Echo.
So long as we're cherry picking, we might also add that Thomas Nast supported the plight of the Native Americans, that he supported Abolition, that he fought to end political corruption. Tweed offered him a $100,000 bribe, to stop drawing those "damned pictures," which he turned down.
Late in life, to give you an idea of the esteem in which he was held -- this cartoonist, Mr. Nast, was appointed by Teddy Roosevelt to United States' Consul General for Ecuador. After selflessly helping many people and businesses there escape a yellow fever epidemic, he succumbed and died from the disease on December 7, 1902.
Judging people from history with our present-day morals is a dicey thing to do. Heck, we have slave holders on our money.
Racist immigrant humor was, unfortunately, typical back then; a staple of the cartoon and the music hall -- just like flatulence jokes and getting hit in the nuts is part of popular humor now. To condemn a man for his faults and not weigh it against his roster successes is not realistic. And I would like to think that we are living in a world where Protestants and Catholics can get along.