Tom Toles (BA '73) has issues—he's paid to. He's a
political cartoonist, the Washington Post's one and only.
Moral outrage is his currency. “I’m infuriated by
many things,” he says. “Top among them is the way we've
botched the climate challenge.”
Outrage goes both ways. One Post reader once wrote to Toles:
“I happen to think Mr. Bush is a fine looking man and your
portrait of him makes him look like some kind of little animal ...
His ears are on his head in the same place as everyone else’s
In 2014, the outrage at the heart of political cartooning
spiraled out of control when Islamic radicals shot to death French
journalists over cartoons perceived to be blasphemous. Nobody,
Toles says, should be killed for expressing a view, but what
happened in Paris raised troubling questions about what some
newspapers choose to publish. Political cartooning has had its
share of “bad actors spreading hate,” he says.
As his 1990 Pulitzer Prize attests, Toles isn’t only one
of the good guys, he’s one of the very best. His cartoons
might sting, but they have a heart. In Toles’s view, the
world’s no teardown; it’s a fixer-upper, worth the
trouble. But we must to be honest with ourselves and work as one to
set things right.
This hardboiled but hopeful outlook comes from growing up in
Western New York, where seeing how people help each other in a
snowstorm, Toles one winter understood clearly why he loves his
hometown. It really is the City of Good Neighbors.
-Excerpted from At Buffalo magazine.