politics as usual


Sean Delonas is a cartoonist. His work appears in the New York Post. That should explain everything. Much has been written about last week's chimp cartoon, but none of the blog posts or reviews link to the cartoon. I think that's a mistake.

It's here.

Is it tasteless? Undeniably.

Is it racist? Absolutely.

So people are in a flap because some low-brow did a tasteless, racist cartoon about the President of the United States? You know, I think everybody can see it for what it is.

Delonas waiting for inspiration.


It's interesting to me that that hardly anyone in the media has given any thought to the fact that the original cartoon may NOT be racist after all. Is it because our president is African-American that we automatically assume the monkey represents him? Doesn't that say more about the reader who interprets it as such than the cartoonist who may have been misunderstood? The editor-in-chief of the Post claims it was "a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy." Honestly, I can see that. I can also see that it would be career suicide if any artist would make such a blatant racial statement, as well as for any paper that ran it. And don't even get me started on Al Sharpton...

Obviously, we don't know what the artist's true intent was and it very well may have been to be racist. But I think a bigger issue is that our hyper-sensitivity to issues involving race in this country is getting out of hand. Obama is our first African-American president and, while amazingly historic, I'm sure he would rather have history judge him by what he does instead of what he is. Don't get me wrong: it think it's vitally important to call "it" what it is, when it is. But I think it's also important to have some restraint. If we can't rise above the ugliness that this story has brought out of us we'll never be able to evolve into what we should be.

Ok, off my soap box.

Yes, a chimp in Connecticut was shot. The incident has no conceivable connection—humorous, political, economic or otherwise—to the stimulus package. The fact that Selona consciously chose to use it for what he did, though, is what's telling. To suggest that a professional political cartoonist implied anything accidently is to mock the craft- he did what he did. To his supporters, he did very well. He's guilty, and it won't hurt his career. Let them giggle and snort in the back room.

I agree Mark, the fact that people are horrified speaks to their hyper-sensitivity. That so many want to protect Obama from such things speaks to their guilt. Except for small children on school yards possibly getting ribbed over it, I don't think it's a big deal.

I agree with Dave on this one, the humor argument is weakened because the cartoon is nonsensical to me. What does the unfortunate shooting of a berserk chimp have to do with the stimulus package? I'm not seeing the connection at all, to be honest.

I will go ahead and say that I think the cartoon was overtly racist. Further, I would speculate that this was a calculated decision by the Post. They are essentially a tabloid newspaper, so credibility is not really an issue to begin with. Rupert Murdoch's lame apology/non-apology ("sorry if it hurt your feelings," etc) reinforces this notion in my mind.

Perhaps I am one of the overly-sensitive out there. I'll admit that I was very concerned about an assassination attempt, even as late as inauguration day. Nothing about a bullet-riddled primate being compared to Obama is funny to me, nor is it acceptable in any way.

Just my perspective.

I agree that the cartoon is tying to a negative stereotype, and I would have not printed it had I been in charge.

For instance, I don't recall "W" being depicted as a chimp, even though a lot of people thought of him as a buffoon. They went for the dumb Texan or dumb fratboy stereotype instead.

I would allow for the possibility that the stereotype was pulled from the artist's subconscious. I think that a lot of the modern controversies result from these kinds of errors (it's amazing what kinds of crap can be absorbed by osmosis).

They need to be corrected, but I don't think it's as severe an offense as the more conscious stuff.

On a side note - I do watch a lot of Fox news and I have yet to hear or see any overtly racist commentary from the conservative commentators. That doesn't mean there aren't times when "They don't get it" though (yes I have yelled at the screen).

But overall, it's much different from the vile racist material I heard growing up in Maryland.

Great point about images pulled from the subconscious. When I first heard the discussion about this particular cartoon, my reaction was that the artist might not even realize the subconscious tie-in and why he used the reference. Maybe he just needs counseling...
But I do think in this case it's conscious.

Didn't know you grew up in Maryland!

Talking about conscious decision, great the way you have the cow arching it's tail. I never thought of inspiration like that before.

I think there are many layers of interpretation between the artist's inner workings when he created that image to how viewing that image makes me feel. I don't know what connection he made when combining the Ape shooting to signing the stimulus bill.

Unfortunately, there is a nasty history to ape associations and Afrikans - http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/brute/

So most folks understandably view this image with the the history-of-racism as their lense. And that may be what makes people think that this image is racist.

A friend asked me why this image is such an issue for so many people. I think that the graphic potentially implies killing Obama since he is the man who signed the stimulus bill and since there is this nasty history of associating Afrikans to apes.

I can see how folks want to debate this. It arouses the thought that folks still have complete hatred for other people dependent on skin color. That is a very sensitive issue.

My mom always enjoys pulling the "what if" game...So I'm going to try it here.

What if the artist would have used a cat instead of an ape, would there be so much controversy over this image for you?

Even George W was portrayed as a monkey by artists.




I think Mark's point is well taken though. It is in the eyes of the viewer where racism exists. When you look at other people, do you see them as different or alike? Regardless of skin color or dependent on skin color?

Asking ourselves these types of questions may in fact uncover more understanding about our selves.

I just look forward to a day where skin color is not even worthy of discussion. We are just breaking the surface of what can be by having President Obama lead our country.

And now I'm going to somewhat quote John Lennon...

Racism is over if you want it!

Dean, my apologies. I have no idea why this comment needed to wait for approval; when I saw the notice, I assumed it went up.

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