Feature

Arizona immigration: Is Dora the Explorer fair game?

An internet meme shows the Nickelodeon character beaten and arrested, a supposed victim of Arizona's immigration laws. Should parents be outraged?

Dora the Explorer, the Nickelodeon cartoon character much adored by pre-schoolers, has become an unlikely player in the debate over Arizona's tough new immigration law. Grassroots opponents of the law have begun circulating a satirical mugshot of the brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking Dora sporting a black eye and bloodied features after being "arrested" by Arizona police as an illegal alien. The character has also inspired Facebook groups about the immigration debate, and a parody on the Huffington Post. But is politicizing Dora unfair to her toddler fans? (Watch a local report about questions over Dora's immigration status)

Recruiting Dora into this debate will only confuse kids: Bringing children into this "skewed discussion" on immigration is unfair, says the editorial board of Arizona's Prescott Daily Courier. While "adults understand a joke," using a kids' favorite like Dora manipulates the debate for younger people. Kids will question why their beloved character is in jail looking all beaten up — and the answer risks being "dangerously unfunny.""Dora parody not fair to children"

Perhaps kids will learn something from her "arrest": Actually, we can learn a lot from Dora, says Suzanne Murray at Cafe Mom. Given Nickelodeon's refusal to comment on her background, all we know about Dora is she has brown skin and speaks Spanish. If "these two simple facts" are enough to put her "immigration status under scrutiny," then doesn't that illustrate "the problem with Arizona's law in the first place"?"Dora the Explorer: Illegal immigrant"This is hardly unprecedented: "Of course, this isn’t the first time children’s characters have been drawn into the political fracas," says Lakshmi Gandhi at Time. Who can forget Jerry Falwell's diatribe against Tinky-Winky the Teletubby for being a "gay role model"? Or the way that Sesame Street's co-habiting puppets Bert and Ernie were "invoked" in the gay marriage debate? Using a familiar character is an irresistibly easy way for activists on an issue to "symbolize their positions.""Dora the Explorer gets dragged into immigration debate"

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