14 July 2008

Obama: No Sense of Humor?

It's a rare day when I can report that an American media outlet is too clever for most of the public, but as of a minute ago, public opinion on the MSNBC website was nearly two-to-one in favor of the proposition that The New Yorker magazine had gone too far with this week's cover satirizing paranoid fantasies about Senator Obama. The cover, which you can see on the link page, portrays Obama as a Muslim jihadist fist-bumping his wife, who is done up as some sort of generic Black Power radical. The Obama campaign acknowledges the artist's intentions, but is angry just the same.

Fortunately, The New Yorker generally doesn't fear to offend. Since the magazine entered its modern period in 1992, it's pushed the envelope on several occasions, as is fitting for the one national weekly that always has a cartoon on its cover. Most notoriously, Pulitzer-winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman caused controversy with a Valentine's Day cover showing an Orthodox rabbi kissing a black woman and an Easter cover replacing Jesus with a crucified Easter Bunny. The publishers did succumb to fear on one occasion, rejecting a Spiegelman cover that showed (if I recall right) President Bush feeding the Constitution into a meat grinder, but they've since regained their courage and run covers kicking the chief executive while he's down.

Obviously the Obama campaign just wants the "secret Muslim" issue to go away. Mocking those who hold this rather paranoid opinion by illustrating their delusion doesn't really help the Democrats because it keeps the issue alive. Of course, despite some people's readiness to rank The New Yorker among the liberal media, the magazine owes no favors to the Democratic party and needs not concern itself with offending the candidate or hurting its chances. If they must make amends, the best way would be to honor the equal-time principle and put out a cover illustrating the "manchurian candidate" brainwashing that Senator McCain underwent during his years in a North Vietnamese prison, making sure to make it as hilarious as possible.

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