19 February 2009

Cartoons and Racism

The New York Post has published a cartoon that compares the first black President of the United States to a crazy chimpanzee that was gunned down by police after it had attacked a woman and allegedly tearing off most of her face. The caption to the cartoon reads "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." Now, it is widely known that President Obama was instrumental in getting the version of the stimulus bill that was eventually passed into the form that was passed.

It would seem that the caption is a clear pot shot at the president. I do not really care all that much for US politics, but I am a follower of events. After all, the US is supposed to be the leader of the free world, right? So, it probably pays to be informed.

It does not really matter what your personal views are on the stimulus bill and the policies being adopted in order to give effect to the provisions of the bill. Like it or hate it, the bill that is, is not what this cartoon seems to be about. To the contrary, there is a clear reference to the President and the reference is also that he is a maniacal chimp.

I really cannot work out how the New York Post cannot see the racial over or undertones to the visual provided. It is pretty clear and has been for some time that comparing black people to monkeys is not on and when it is done it should be labeled for what it is, racist.

I am not a big fan of political correctness, the idea of calling a person who suffers from cerebral palsy, physically challenged or a dwarf a little person or for that matter a black American an African-American seems to protecting sensibilities that do not need that level of protection. Nevertheless, that said, I am rarely in a group that is so labeled. Although, for those of you readers who know Indonesia and the term "bule" you might understand how it is to be labeled for the colour of your skin.

My old man is a Welsh man and I cannot recall ever calling myself Welsh-Australian. That is not to suggest that I am trying to hide my Welsh heritage or that I am not proud of it. I was born and raised in Australia and that is how I identify myself. But I digress.

The New York Post's editor-in-chief, Col Allan, sort to justify the cartoon in this way, "The cartoon is 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." However, judging by the several thousand comments uploaded to the story as it was noted in the Huffington Post would tend to suggest that most people are finding themselves offended at the connotation.

My guess is that the New York Post is courting controversy and it seems to have found a good formula to do that, incorporating race into anything, but particularly politics, and to run the gauntlet of comparing the first black president of the US to a monkey must be called for what it is.

Thus endeth another RAB sermon.


Lyn said...

It does not compare Obama to a chimp. That so many in America are offended by the cartoon or say it is racist is a testament to just how ridiculous some Americans are. Particularly blacks. In America blacks spend their lives feeling they are victims. They program themselves to take offense at anything.

It's just a political cartoon. It is not a threat against any politician or an attack on any group of people. It's just a political cartoon.

Rob Baiton said...


Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. It is always good to get a varied set of views on any one topic.

The cartoon is a political cartoon, I agree. It can be viewed as I see it in one of two ways:

1. the stimulus bill is so bad for America that it was written by monkeys and the coppers in this cartoon just happened to get one of those crazy stimulus bill authors; or
2. it is directed at the pusher-in-chief of the stimulus bill, President Obama. If this is the case then the association of a black man and a monkey is generally, or at least as I see it, racist.

I was not making any statement about a culture of victimization among black Americans, but your point is an interesting one.

Oigal said...


I thought same thing at first (racist) but then purely from a political point of view (mine) calling the democrats (or the oz labor party for that matter) monkeys is step beyond what they deserve.

Two interesting issues..
Has the paper (and the nation)progressed that far it didn't think of the alternate meaning if it wanted to portray dems as ecomomic monkeys?


Would there be a such an uproar if the if the president was white..If so should the paper be making any concession based on skin colour?

AH bugger..thats three issues..

Oh finally (thats four now)Democrats have a nerve complaining about the big "O" nasty press (if thats what it is) due to skin colour.. It could be said he has had a hay ride from the press based more on skin colour than sustance since he started running (USA seemed to be just ready for the change and he was there, black, affable and inoffensive.

treespotter said...

don't you think that once you followed any events of any significance these days, you can't help that someone, somewhere will be offended with it? NYPost, Michael Phelps, Danish idiots, etc.

Maybe the world's just gone all girly.

Rob Baiton said...


Can see that you could not resist on taking a dig at the Aust. Labor Party. The cartoon can be interpreted in other ways than just being racist.

However, the question remains, in light of current circumstances why take the risk when you know that it is likely to push all the right (or wrong) buttons?

Was it purely attention seeking and controversy creating?


People will always be offended at something somewhere.

Maybe it has, the world that is.

oigal said...

"However, the question remains, in light of current circumstances why take the risk when you know that it is likely to push all the right (or wrong) buttons?"

Perhaps, but "current circumstances" is scary, where do you draw the line of not publishing because you might offend?

Lot to be said..for tree's comment bunch of girlie men.. Seriously Al Sharpton complaining about saying nasty things..a racist himself and and what did he want to do with Obama's balls?

oigal said...

As for the ALP...Force of habit..shitt.. 22 Billion surplus to 22 billion in debt in 12 months ..a new record even for them and spent on what?

Rob Baiton said...


Not worried about offending people. Although, racism is something that I think is an ugly part of us that needs to be addressed.

I agree with you that an alternative interpretation is that the stimulus package was written by a bunch of monkeys. I do not find that offensive as good arguments could be made that it was.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that it is generally accepted that the stimulus bill as passed was very much an Obama approved creation and something that he supported to the hilt. Thus the monkey reference takes on a different persona.

I believe that it was the good reverend, Jesse Jackson, that wanted to do something with Obamas nuts.

Rob Baiton said...


That is Australian politics, right? The Libs save and get us into surplus and then the socialists in the Labour party spend the surplus. Culminating in the Libs getting elected again.

I agree though that this cycle is off to a flying start in terms of how quickly the surplus was drawn down.