Cartoons, Chimps and Race
I've heard all sides weigh in on this, from those outraged at the possible racist parallels between the chimp and Barack Obama, to those who see the chimp as a representation of a clumsily written bill.
Here's the apology issued by the NY Post today:
I believe the NY Post was wise to apologize, not to the "opportunists" as they indicated (hello Al Sharpton), but because it's understandable how the whole thing could be construed as racist by many reasonable people.
Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.
It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.
But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.
This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.
However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.
To them, no apology is due.
Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.
I ALSO believe the NY Post when they assert that the chimp in the cartoon was in no way a representation of Barack Obama or the color of his skin. I believe it was an ill-timed and ill-conceived combination of the chimp attack in Connecticut and the cartoonist's attempt to draw that into the stimulus bill issue. As anyone who's followed the stimulus bill passage knows, the bill wasn't written by Obama, but by Congress - a body which could be argued to have the grace of a 200-pound chimpanzee in tight quarters. Or the intelligence of one. Remember the Bush or Chimp web site? What do you think the web site creators and their supporters had in mind when drawing those comparisons? Hmmm. Of course, Bush is white, Republican, dumb and evil so it's alright to bash him. No outrage allowed there.
One more thing, who in this day and age would intentionally draw a parallel between an ape and a black man, besides an uneducated and downright racist moron - in a New York daily no less? I think the vast majority of Americans have progressed on matters of race since the 1950s and 60s, despite what our Attorney General thinks.
Then again, the reaction of some to the cartoon makes me wonder whether Eric Holder actually has a point.