18 February 2009

Primates in the White House?

Look at the New York Post cartoon reproduced in this story about the controversy it has caused. Rev. Al Sharpton isn't the only one to find something disturbing about it, but the Post, a conservative tabloid, predictably uses his objections as an excuse to dismiss any others. I can understand the outrage felt by many readers, but taking the cartoon in its historic context, I have to give the Post a pass. I do so for the simple reason that many people over the past eight years equated the President of the United States with a chimpanzee. It may be argued that President Obama's predecessor bears a closer resemblance to the animal than Obama himself does, and that the implicit comparison in the cartoon is less justifiable, but on the principle that turnabout is fair play, I find it hard to argue that, the precedent having been established, you cannot equate the President with a chimp simply because he's black. The Post may deny that the cartoon has done that, and the cartoonist may claim that identifying the mad chimp as the author of the stimulus bill is an attack on the bill rather than the President, and they'd have justice on their side insofar as Obama did not write the bill. But when we're dealing with a political cartoon superficial impressions matter, and I doubt that anyone looking at it would automatically equate the chimp with Senator Reid, Speaker Pelosi, or anyone other than the President. So the Post shouldn't weasel around the issue. Instead, they ought to run a page full of Bush-as-Chimp cartoons and play the usual "double standard" card -- because this time, they'd be right.


Anonymous said...

But how many people who equated Bush with a chimp in cartoons had someone shoot the chimp? If a "liberal" newspaper had published a political cartoon where someone shot President Bush, you bet the cuntservatives would screaming and yelling up a storm. If the FBI felt free in arresting terrorist for merely talking about bombing a building, then the cartoonist who drew that picture ought to be arrested for "talking" about shooting the president.

Samuel Wilson said...

Your speculation depends on the premise that the cartoonist meant the chimp to represent Obama, when he could just as easily argue that he meant to convey only that the stimulus bill seemed to be the handiwork of a drug-crazed ape. Since such a creature was recently in the news, the cartoonist thought it would be funny to identify him as the author of a bill he disliked, most likely without realizing what people would infer from the image. In the artist's mind, the chimp probably isn't meant to represent any politician, but if he really didn't anticipate that it would be seen symbolically, he's probably in the wrong line of work.

hobbyfan said...

The Post cartoonist has done some stupid things, and this sinks to the bottom of the barrel. Trying to equate a crazed chimp to the stimulus program asks one question:

Who's really the dummy here? Answer: the NY Post.