Associated Press graphic
Some people believe that this rather poor editorial cartoon that appeared today in the right-wing rag the New York Post is a racist comparison of President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee, and thus, by extension, a reference to the assassination of the president.
I think it’s more likely that it’s just a bad editorial cartoon.
The severe mauling of a woman by a chimpanzee (and the subsequent shooting to death of the chimp by police) in Connecticut on Monday is not something that I would choose to make fun of, but the wingnuts easily are able to laugh at others’ misery and pain and suffering (just like Jesus would do!).
Nor is the Post’s editorial cartoon very funny. The link of the passage of the economic stimulus package in our democratic process (the wingnuts always have to be reminded of that pesky little thing called democracy) to the chimp-mauling incident is a rather weak link (the editorial cartoonist, too, I surmise, is a rather weak link…).
However, I wouldn’t automatically assume that the cartoonist meant the dead chimp to represent President Obama. Hopefully, the editorial cartoonist was trying to say that the economic stimulus package, in his wingnutty opinion, is so poor that it must have been written by a chimpanzee (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!).
Years ago, when I worked on my university’s student newspaper, our editorial cartoonist drew an editorial cartoon on the topic of a proposed race-based student admissions policy. The tag line of the editorial cartoon went something like, “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo…” — the children’s rhyme that you use when you are picking something or someone.
Of course, the white-supremacist version of that would be “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo; catch a nigger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go; eeny, meeny, miny, mo.”
I knew the editorial cartoonist well enough to know that that that was not the intent of his cartoon; if memory serves, both he and I were thinking of the non-white-supremacist version, “catch a tiger by the toe.”
However, the cartoon nonetheless raised quite a lot of controversy among African-American students, as it should have.
I, as the managing editor who had to make too many decisions because the editor in chief was never around, should have caught the worst-case-scenario interpretation of the editorial cartoon and should have stopped its publication — or, better, asked the cartoonist to amend his cartoon in order to clarify his intent.
But I just didn’t see the ’toon in the white-supremacist light, and so the ’toon ran, and I, as the managing editor whose editor in chief in absentia ad nauseum didn’t want to handle anything unpleasant, had to (try to…) explain to the university’s enraged African-American students what the editorial cartoonist’s intent was. (Oh, what fun that was…) To this day I doubt that they believed my explanation.
Because of that personal experience, I will extend the benefit of the doubt to the Post, as loathesome as the Post is.
Running an editorial cartoon that just isn’t funny, however, is difficult to forgive…