Utah delegation responds to ‘repugnant’ Salt Lake Tribune cartoon

Apr 16, 2021, 10:16 AM | Updated: 1:25 pm
burgess owens is subject of controversial salt lake tribune cartoon...
Rep. Burgess Owens R-Utah, talks during an interview at his West Jordan offices on Monday, April 12, 2021. Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Utah congressional delegation released a statement Thursday responding to a cartoon illustrated by the Salt Lake Tribune.

Delegation responds to Salt Lake Tribune cartoon

Pat Bagley, the Tribune’s editorial cartoonist, drew a Ku Klux Klansman with a torch, pointing and saying the words, “They are coming to your neighborhoods,” alongside a depiction of Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, pointing and saying the same words at the US border. You can see the Salt Lake Tribune cartoon in Bagley’s tweets, a little further down in this article. 

Utah’s Republican congressional delegation, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Mitt Romney, Rep. Chris Stewart, Rep. John Curtis, and Rep. Blake Moore issued this joint statement responding to the cartoon in the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently published a repugnant ‘cartoon’ comparing Congressman Burgess Owens, our esteemed colleague and only black member of the Utah delegation, to a member of the Ku Klux Klan. This racially charged, perverse political statement is beyond the pale. We ask that The Salt Lake Tribune immediately take down this horrific image, issue a formal apology, and hold themselves to a higher standard.

The Utah Republican Party joined the statement. 

Bagley, Tribune on Owens

Both Bagley and the Tribune continue to stand by the cartoon, though the Tribune did not issue any formal response. Instead, the paper published an editorial addressing Owens’ stance on immigration and border issues. 

‘It’s chaos down here’: Rep. Owens shares experiences at border

The @sltrib and @Patbagley compare me to the KKK, the radical hate group that terrorized me in my youth, because I am one of many sounding the alarm of the trauma being faced by women and children crossing the border. This is pathetic. #wokeracism,” Owens wrote on Twitter Thursday.

We have heard of “mansplaining” now we have “whitesplaining” from a white man comparing a black man, who grew up under Jim Crow laws, to the KKK. Awful tone deaf @sltrib @Patbagley. Expect an apology but I won’t hold my breathe. [sic]”


More from the cartoonist

Bagley responded and said if any of Utah’s other federal representatives had said similar things about immigration he would have drawn the same cartoon. 

“If Sen. Mike Lee, Mitt Romney or any other Utah pol had said this about immigrants they would have earned the same cartoon. Treating Owens any different on account of his race would be, uh, what’s the word…

“If you don’t want to be dunked on for using an age-old white supremacist talking points then don’t use white supremacist talking points,” he continued. 



He also added that his best defense is Owens’ own words. 

“By defaming me, the entire Utah congressional delegation endorses Owens’ hateful QAnon rhetoric. Read his own words and decide.”



Bagley added that while he can’t speak to the Black experience, Owens’ words have been used to stir up irrational fear in white people. 

” I can’t speak to the Black experience (obviously). But I can speak to the effect the words @RepBurgessOwens used have on White people. From time immemorial they have been used to stir up irrational fear and animosity.”

Former Rep. weighs in

Former Utah Representative Mia Love, who served in the same district that Owens represents, alleges Bagley periodically relies on racially-charged tactics in his cartoons.

It’s sad to see this. Anyone (including me) can disagree with Rep. Owens’ statements about people at the border. But if you meant to target @BurgessOwens with this cartoon, let me assure you, other black Americans are hurt by it as well.

“Does Pat Bagley claim that he is not racist or sexist? As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and his are often filled with racially charged and misogynistic messages,” she wrote on Friday.


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Utah delegation responds to ‘repugnant’ Salt Lake Tribune cartoon