Cartoon being discussed

The cartoon The Mongolian Octopus: His Grip on Australia from 1886 (presumably referring to Chinese or Asian people, not Mongolians in particular) has "Immorality" as one of the tentacles.

In the context of this cartoon, what did "Immorality" mean? It seems a fairly vague term. As the two people ensnared are women, does it mean some sort of sexual immorality? Prostitution? Inter-racial relationships? Something else?

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    Is there any reason why it needs to be a specific form of immorality? – Hot Licks Apr 2 '16 at 3:08
  • Is this about English or about history? Might this be a better fit on History.SE? – anongoodnurse Apr 2 '16 at 3:12
  • @HotLicks the term, if used non-euphemistically, seems fairly vague. – Andrew Grimm Apr 2 '16 at 3:17
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    Likely so-called white slavery, the sex trade in Europeans. – deadrat Apr 2 '16 at 3:18
  • I would guess it likely that the cartoon is dealing in a stereotype of the Chinese as being purveyors of prostitutes. But of course several of the other tentacles specify specific immoral acts, so it could just be an "everything else" category. Certainly there would have been plenty of things that would have been viewed as immoral by the Australians of that era. – Hot Licks Apr 2 '16 at 3:22

There appears to be a lot of information about the "Mongolian octopus" cartoon online. At first, I thought it was a reference to the West's long exploitation of the Orient. (The British are associated with China's opium trade, for example.)

However, the article The Mongolian Octopus states "The 'Mongolian Octopus,' first published in the Bulletin in 1886, was a octopus with eight tentacles pointing out bad things about Asian immigrants as bad people that would only strangle the innocent lives of white Australians." In other words, it's just another racist anti-immigrant cartoon.

This particular article doesn't specify the meaning of "immorality," but the two white women suggests the fear that Asian immigrants might prey on women sexually.

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