Posted by: allisongran | December 19, 2011

Irish Fenians vs. Illegal Immigration

At the beginning of class, while looking at the images of Fenians I remembered being struck by how familiar they seemed. Then, sadly, while my friend was doing some research for another class I saw a propaganda caricature depicting Illegal Immigration in Arizona and the similarity struck me.

Here we have the image we all saw and discussed in class from a London Newspaper depicting the Irish ideal Hibernia clinging to her strong and protective sister Britannia (Britain) to shield her from the savage, primitive “Fenian Pest”.

The image shows an obvious attempt to portray the figures of Irish Fenianism as grotesque and brutal, giving the viewers the Central Figure of Britain as the sole protective force against this devastation.

Interestingly, a similar idea is presented in the following propaganda image dealing with the issue of immigration. Here, viewers are given the figure of The Statue of Liberty (the personification of the United States) literally and figuratively stomping out the issue, stereotypically portrayed as a little mariachi, caballero style “mexican”.

Viewers see “America” presented as a strong and unyielding force undefeatable, a stark contrast from the following image where she appears to be all but overrun.

Here viewers are given the impression that “America” is falling and needs to be saved, that she will drown if not rescued from the “terror” of illegal immigration. I think it’s really interesting to look at the propaganda of these two periods and compare them.


  1. These two images are very interesting. They remind us of how important contemporary imagery can be in terms of cultural commentary. Since I was in middle school, we have been studying political cartoons from every period of time, and it is unbelievable how much they each say about a specific historical moment. In some ways, I think that political cartoons, drawings and caricatures are more accurate in explaining what has gone on in our world than even written documentation, because they better express the feelings and emotions of the general people at the time (newspapers and magazines would only draw/show images to their readers that they know their readers will respond to). I think it’s very sad that political cartoons such as these still exist. It makes me wonder what future generations will think of us?

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