Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Politically Incorrect: One man’s joke is another’s racial slur

New York Post's page six cartoon, caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut, has created considerable controversy. The actual cartoon depicts two befuddled looking police officers holding guns looking over the dead body of a chimpanzee they just shot. The famed cartoonist, Sean Delonas, was referencing the mauling of a woman by the chimpanzee in question. In the cartoon, one of the police officers says to the other, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill". the drawing and the caption are replete with violent imagery as well as what may be construed as racist comments, which sparked a fiery rampage from critics. Many people who are critical of the cartoon view the drawing as a comparison of President Obama to a chimpanzee in a commentary on his recently approved economic stimulus package. Contrary to critic's opinions, the post described their cartoon as solely a mockery of what they called an "ineptly written" stimulus bill. The post recognized that the cartoon appeared to be a " depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism".

A day after the publication of the cartoon the New York Post apologized as well as defended its action and even attacked detractors. Their statement read, " this most certainly was not its intent, to those who were offended by the image we apologize", "However, there are some i 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," the statement says. "To them, no apology is due. Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon -- even as the opportunities seek to make it something else."
At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus was composed so poorly, that monkeys may as well have written it. Others believe it compares the President to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and race into politics is bound to cause controversy. Critics that linked Obama as the author f the stimulus bill may need to review the structure of our government. the Prwesident is not generally in charge of such economic responsibilities, and although President Obama oversaw the process, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Reid as well as other members of the House of Representatives/Senate were the prime instigators. The cartoon was intended to mock the poor structure of how the bill was written, and not to target Obama, though critics would like us to think otherwise. 
If we truly want to get pat racism we must not interpret everything and anything within an overarching perspective: not very every comment is intended, nor is it. Furthermore Obama is President, not the black president, of this country. Once we reduce him to the color of his skin we fall into the rut of small-minded people, demean the transcendent aspect of his presidency, and perpetuate the very "disease" which the protestors attempt to eradicate. There is a fine line between satire and plain un-American, unethical behavior. There are some jokes that are better left unsaid, but our media is charged with adherence to a degree of social behavior that instills in us a sense of Americanism, which does not insult our moral social fabric. However, one would expect people within our society to maintain a dialogue and to bring enlightenment to our causes without such a harsh display of separatism. 


Ali Wunderman said...

I agree with you. People seem to sometimes look for racism and sexism where it doesn't exist as a way to discredit those who they oppose. I think the cartoon makes a clear point about the quality of the stimulus bill, but it looks like readers have decided that the comparison between Obama and the chimp is the continent of origin, rather than bill-writing skills. I agree that if we as a people truly want to get past sexism and racism, we have to stop looking for it where it doesn't exist.

mjwong89 said...

I agree with the author and Ali. When I first heard this story, I was clearly led to believe the chimpanzee was Barack Obama. Now that I have seen the cartoon, I am not so sure. What I would like to point out is that Bush was made fun of as President, just like Obama apparently is or will be. The cartoonist was practicing free speech and should not be condemned for doing so. While I do not agree with the cartoonist and others who mock our elected officials, it is important that we recognize our first amendment rights.

youre likable enough said...

I completely agree with you that racism is rampant and very ugly in the United States. However, I do not think that the monkey cartoon is wrong and that the publishers should profusely apologize for it. When I see the cartoon, I can only see a cartoonist fusing the shooting of the chimpanzee to the passing of Obama's bill. I thought that the cartoonist was just innocently trying to get the point across that many critics were giving blame to Obama no matter how much effort he tries to change the bill to appease others. Even if the cartoons were meant to make fun of Obama, also remember that there were plenty which made fun of Bush. As Matt said, the cartoonist has his (or her) first amendment rights and I believe that we should respect it.