As we learned last year, any criticism of Barack Obama is racist. Comparing him to Jesse Jackson is racist, and so is comparing him to Paris Hilton. Calling his story about his position on Iraq a fairy tale is racist, and so is saying that he used to pal around with a terrorist. Even using his middle name is racist.
But do all those absurd claims mean that there really is no racism? Of course not. The political cartoon above was drawn by Sean Delonas and was published in Wednesday’s edition of the New York Post and it immediately triggered a controversy. According to some people, Delonas was comparing Obama to an ape. Reverend Al Sharpton put out a statement saying:
“The cartoon in today’s New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this when in the cartoon they have police saying after shooting a chimpanzee that “Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.”
“Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?”
NY Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan responded with a statement of his own:
“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. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.”
I’m not a mind reader so I don’t know what Delonas intended, but I can see how some people would reasonably find that cartoon offensive. But I would like to point out that President Obama didn’t write the stimulus bill nor is he perceived to have done so. The authors of the stimulus bill are generally perceived to have been Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, so I don’t know if you can truthfully argue that the cartoon is a clear reference to Obama.
But even if it did, is comparing Obama to a chimp racist? The reason I ask is that George W. Bush was compared to a chimp for most or all of his two terms in office. He was called “Incurious George” and “The Chimperor” and there is even a website called The Smirking Chimp that features an image of Bush on its banner.
Here is an image from Democratic Underground:
So what do you think? Is the Delonas cartoon racist or not? Do we have to spend the next 4-8 years tip-toeing around the issue of race? What are the rules, and who decides?
Today’s cartoon isn’t the only controversial work done by Delonas. Gawker has several others. While the case for racism may be arguable, the case for homobigotry is much stronger.