26 February 2009
Does the NAACP Protest Too Much?
After driving Rupert Murdoch to apologize personally for last week's cartoon identifying the late violent chimp from Connecticut as the author of the stimulus plan, the NAACP is attempting to force further concessions from Murdoch's News Corp organization. The association is supposed to be holding protests at Fox network affiliates all over the country today in order to demand further repudiation of the cartoon, which has been seen as a racist insult to the President. At the New York Post, where the cartoon first appeared, protesters still demand the firing of the cartoonist. While my own view has been that it ill becomes people to condemn inferred comparisons of Obama and apes, no matter what the historical complications are, when they readily portrayed the previous President, justifiably, as a chimp, I see no reason why people shouldn't protest if they do feel offended. However, I think the NAACP presses its advantage too far when it raises the old demand for increased diversity in News Corp offices. The argument is that a more diverse newsroom (i.e. more minorities) would have anticipated how the chimp cartoon would have been interpreted and stopped it from running. That argument makes sense, but when a genuinely outraged protest into yet another demand that some business hire more black people, the association opens itself to the old charge that civil-rights leaders are really engaged in shakedown operations. The object of what I take to be a moral protest against an offensive cartoon shouldn't be to have anyone benefit materially from the protest. That makes it look self-interested and allows those inclined to think the worst of civil-rights organizations to confirm their assumption that people like Rev. Al Sharpton were only looking for an excuse to resume a self-interested vendetta against a political opponent. I can understand if this doesn't really bother people who just want to see Murdoch and News Corp humbled, and I certainly don't oppose more diverse newsrooms, but the way this campaign is developing just sits wrong with me.