‘Racist’ cartoon targets Indian crew members of ship which hit Baltimore bridge, receives flak from social media users

Viral cartoon targeting Indian crew members of ship which hit a US bridge
Viral cartoon targeting Indian crew members of ship which hit Baltimore bridge. Photo Courtesy: Screen grab of X page viral photo @Foxford Comics X page

After six people are presumed to be dead following a powerless cargo ship smashing into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, a ‘racist’ cartoon depicting the incident has stirred a storm.

While several, including US President Joe Biden, are praising the Indian crew on the ship, the ‘racist’ cartoon is receiving a lot of flak.

The Singapore-flagged container ship Dali lost power and crashed into a concrete pier supporting the bridge on Tuesday.

Within seconds almost the entire bridge collapsed and plunged into what officials said was roughly 50 feet of frigid water below.

Biden praised the ship’s crew, most of whom were Indians for their prompt Mayday call which prompted authorities to shut down traffic to the bridge, potentially saving lives.

A day later, a US-based webcomic shared a cartoon depicting the incident. The animated video shows unkempt men dressed only in loincloths preparing for the impending crash and was directed at the crew on the ship.

“Last known recording from inside the Dali moments before impact,” Foxford Comics wrote on X (formerly Twitter) while sharing the video. The cartoon also had the audio of people swearing at each other in English but with a strong Indian accent.

The graphic has gone viral within minutes of being shared online garnering 4.2 million views and 2k comments.

The account is being criticised not just for its racist depiction of Indians, but also for undermining the ship’s crew.

Sharing the cartoon, Indian economist Sanjeev Sanyal wrote that the ship was likely being steered by a local pilot at the time of the incident.

“At the time that the ship hit the bridge, it would have had a local pilot. In any case, the crew had warned the authorities which is why the casualties were relatively few (for such a disaster). The mayor in fact thanked the Indian crew as “heroes” for raising an alarm that limited casualties,” he said.

Another X user, Pooja Sangwan, echoed the sentiment and said, “It’s shameful that people are mocking Indian crew for the tragic incident. Meanwhile the governor himself praised the crew.”

The bridge collapse is likely to have a significant impact on the US economy as Baltimore is the biggest vehicle-handling port in the country, including cars and heavy farm equipment, according to US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. About $100 to $200 million in value comes through the port daily.