GOP squashes 'scalping' cartoon, but Republicans still miss the point

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin state Republican Party withdrew a cartoon from its Web site on the theme of scalping, but still doesn't understand its offensiveness according to a spokesman for the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe.

Shortly after the tribe signed a major gaming compact with the administration of Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, the Wisconsin GOP posted a cartoon depicting a tomahawk in flight toward a non-Indian. A voice-over intoned "As taxpayers, we got scalped," an apparent reference to the anticipated expansion of gaming under the new compact, which Doyle is promoting as a model for gaming tribes in Wisconsin. Legislators on the Republican side of the aisle have contended the governor gave up too much in the compact, and didn't get enough in return despite a $78 million dollar increase in the tribe's contribution to a state budget deeply in deficit.

The party withdrew the cartoon after less than a day as objections poured in from tribes, citizens, lawmakers and news outlets across the state. A party official announced the cartoon hadn't been considered offensive before the posting and was not intended to offend. This prompted a Forest County response to the effect that the GOP had been intimidated into taking the cartoon out of circulation - but still didn't understand its offensiveness.

Eugene Kane, a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist, editorialized that what the party really didn't get was a grip on history - not to mention any lessons to be found in Trent Lott's recent plummet from prominence in the national GOP following his praise of segregationist tendencies in the nation's past.