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.