For a degrading, violent, racist cartoon against President Obama, the New York Post wins the prize for reporting that is an embarrassment to the profession of journalism and for being beholden to corporate paymasters rather than the citizens of America.
Political cartoons are meant to be expressions that aren’t for the tame. A political cartoon that is too nice probably isn’t doing its job.
But there are certain lines political cartoons should not cross, and the New York Post crossed that line on Wednesday.
The cartoon is of two policemen standing over a chimp lying on the ground shot to death. The cop who isn’t holding the gun says to the cop holding the gun, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”
We’re told that the theme is related to an incident in Stamford, Connecticut, this week where a woman was attacked by a popular pet chimpanzee. Ultimately, a cop shot and killed the chimp.
Even if you were aware of the chimp story – and that’s a stretch – you still have to ask “and this relates to the stimulus package how?”
The disturbing part of the Sean Delonas cartoon is that it can be seen as degrading on multiple levels. The cartoon could be racist, comparing the first African-American president of the United States to an ape, long a favorite image among racists. Or it could be political – that an ape wrote the legislation. Or writing a stimulus package correlates to a likelihood to attack someone.
The cartoon isn’t funny or poignant and doesn’t even have a clear message. It’s offensive on multiple levels, depending on one’s vantage point – without redeeming value.
In response, New York Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan said: “The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy.”
To summarize Allan, the effort to revive an extremely sick economy is comparable to a chimpanzee on the loose who attacks a woman, and the policeman, using life-extinguishing brutal force, represents the GOP leaders in the House. Or is it the right-wing media to the rescue with a gun?
This isn’t the first time Delonas has come under controversy. This blog entry notes that Delonas ripped off his own work, and was even lazy in doing so.
And then there’s this lovely collection of his tasteless, gay-bashing (among other groups), degrading political cartoons.
There is also a question about talent: Delonas, being obsessed with gay-bashing, draws former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey as if he looks like Barack Obama. McGreevey and Obama look nothing alike.
It’s not like the New York Post is known for taste or decorum anywhere in its ink-stained, tabloid, “I need a shower after I read it” pages. And there is a certain expectation that cartoons will occasionally be tacky. But a violent, degrading cartoon without a funny or relevant analogy is going far too far, and so we name the New York Post the Media Putz of the Week.
This story first appeared at BuzzFlash.com.
What others are saying
Unity: Journalists of Color: “The New York Post is sorely misguided in its efforts to downplay the serious lapse in judgment exhibited in today’s editorial cartoon by Sean Delonas. To think that the cartoonist and the responsible editors at the paper did not see the racist overtones of the finished product should insult their intelligence. Instead, they celebrate their own lack of perspective and criticize those who call it what it is: tone deaf at best, overtly racist at worst.”
Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists and vice president of Unity: Journalists of Color: “I question the judgment of the editorial editors to move this to print as well as the diversity of its staff that would let them think this passes as comedy.”
Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League: “The editorial cartoon in today’s New York Post is insensitive and offensive. Comparing President Obama and his effort to revive the economy in a manner that depicts violence and racist inferences is unacceptable. Ignorance, like this, is still prevalent and makes the work of the National Urban League even more relevant in the 21st century.”
Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University finance professor and TV commentator: “The New York Post has apparently decided that our new president reminds them of an ape. … If the New York Post is unable to come forth with a reasonable explanation for this cartoon (I am not sure what shooting a chimp has to do with the stimulus package), all fair-minded Americans should not only write and complain to the newspaper, but they should boycott and voice their concerns with any corporation choosing to supply this newspaper with advertising revenue.”
Lawton Watson, BuzzFlash reader: New York Post owner “Rupert Murdock hails from a country that has a history of horrific racial violence against the country’s Aboriginal Natives. This cartoon is just an extension of this hateful man’s homegrown beliefs and attitude against people of color.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network: “The cartoon in today’s New York Post is troubling at best, given the racist attacks throughout history that have made African-Americans synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual inference to this form of racism when, in the cartoon, the police say after shooting a chimpanzee, ‘Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.’
“Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama, the first African-American president, and has become synonymous with him, it is not a reach to wonder whether the Post cartoonist was inferring that a monkey wrote it? Given that the New York Post cartoonist has come under heavy fire in the past for racially tinged cartoons including the infamous cartoons depicting 2001 mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer and me in very unflattering ways (that ultimately was used as a campaign tactic to inflame racial prejudices), one cannot ignore that history when looking at this morning’s cartoon.
“The Post should at least clarify what point they were trying to make in this cartoon, and reprimand their cartoonist for making inferences that are offensive and divisive at a time the nation struggles to come together to stabilize the economy if, in fact, this was yet another racially charged cartoon.”
Rev. Sharpton and other leaders plan to picket the Post headquarters at noon tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 19.
Hakeem Jeffries, New York Assemblyman: “It is offensive to me as someone who represents a community where innocent, unarmed Black men have been victimized by police brutality.”
Charles Barron, New York City Councilman, quoted by the Black Star News: “This racist rag sheet has hit an all time low. The cartoon is racist, threatens the life of our president, Barack Obama, and offends an entire people. We are calling on the Justice Department to investigate The New York Post.”
Protesters led by Councilman Barron called on advertisers to pull their ads from the paper immediately. They say they’ll continue to boycott the Post and its advertisers until the paper issues an apology.