A professor is taking heat for comparing Alabama's immigration crackdown to Nazi Germany in a series of artistic images including swastikas and depictions of the Virgin Mary.
Edward Noriega, a professor of Art and Design at Troy University in Alabama, had his artwork pulled from an exhibit earlier this month from Talladega's Heritage Hall Museum because the directors objected to the content.
One piece featured stacked Ajax cans relabeled as an "ethnic cleanser" called "Ala, with HB 56," a reference to the immigration crackdown passed by the Alabama legislature in 2011. Another piece shows an image of the Virgin Mary holding a dustpan and a broom in an empty office, over the title "Señora de la Limpieza," or "Our Cleaning Lady." An ashtray reads "Feed Me Get Out."
But the kicker appears to have been a red square overlaid with a white swastika and the the abbreviation HB 56. The tips of the swastikas read "Presbyterian indifference, Baptist indifference, Catholic indifference, Methodist indifference."
Heritage Commission President George Hartsfield told local paper The Daily Home that the swastikas were the main cause behind the controversy.
"I'm just not going to display a swastika," Hartsfield said. "That would be like putting up an image of a Klansman, and I'm not going to do it."
But Noriega defended his work explaining it's a criticism against what he says is a hostile environment for Latinos in the southern state.
"I wanted to be able to compare what Alabama is doing with what the Nazis did," Noriega told a CBS News affiliate. "I do believe this law is a form of ethnic cleansing."
It's not clear how many people fled the state after the passing of one of the country's harshest immigration laws, but labor shortages were reported. Some 81 percent of undocumented immigrants are Latin American, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
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