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  1. libdevil
    libdevil February 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm |

    I don’t think the chimp* is supposed to evoke the school of thought that the stimulus bill is so bad it must have been written by a chimp. I doubt that the artist intended the animal to represent President Obama, or to suggest that Obama be shot. Still, how the heck does this get past an editor or two? Does nobody look at this and think, “Hey, this might be taken the wrong way…”

    *That’s a chimp, not a monkey, because this cartoon is playing off a recent news story about a pet chimp that police were forced to shoot.

  2. FBM
    FBM February 18, 2009 at 1:04 pm |

    I don’t find it funny at all given how many African-American men and women have been shot dead by police and how police have joked about that including calling African-Americans gorillas.

    I guess I just don’t have a sense of humor this morning.

  3. libdevil
    libdevil February 18, 2009 at 1:12 pm |

    I don’t think it’s funny, or appropriate either, for the record. Just providing some context. It wouldn’t have been funny when Clinton was president either. A beloved pet nearly killing a family friend and then being shot by police isn’t really good joke fodder. When you add that to the potential racial issues, again, I just don’t understand where the editors though this was a good idea. I can see how the artist might get this idea and run with it, but somebody needs to look at it a little more critically and with a more detached perspective than the original artist.

  4. Essa
    Essa February 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm |

    Who thinks Barack Obama wrote the stimulus bill? Give the American people a little credit, they don’t think their presidents sit around writing thick and wonkish bills.
    I think the general impression is that no one wrote it, a bunch of lobbyists/congressman just threw pork together. The joke is about jokers/talentless hacks/monkeys writing the bill.

  5. MikeF
    MikeF February 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm |

    since I’m sure that a disingenuous “it wasn’t supposed to be Obama!” will be the defense

    I agree that it’s a pretty tasteless cartoon in the context of police shootings, but I don’t think there was necessarily any racist intent. With the context of the recent chimp shooting and the pretty common meme of monkeys pounding on typewriters, plus the shambolic nature of the stimpack, I think it’s entirely possible that the cartoonist just didn’t think of the racial implications; not everyone is highly attuned to that stuff. It should have been flagged by editors but it’s a huge stretch to say that the monkey is intended as a direct stand-in for Obama.

  6. me
    me February 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm |

    first, chimps should never be pets. ever. that’s just stupidity.

    secondly, its not a funny joke one way or the other, but its especially racist without the context. It should have been picked up by someone.

  7. FBM
    FBM February 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm |

    Why? It doesn’t even look like most of the people who commented here picked it up.

    The newspaper will likely say lighten up, it’s a joke. And then oh, you calling us racist? Not that you shouldn’t email them or call them about it. I sent an email. but then if your friends told you how scared they were every time their sons and daughters were five minutes late coming home from a night out and they were worried about getting the call that police killed them, the humorous aspects of whatever the intention was don’t hold up very well.

    But then like I said, my sense of humor must be broke this morning.

  8. Chris
    Chris February 18, 2009 at 1:26 pm |

    This is one of the most shocking, fucked-up things I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty used to seeing racist cartoons, they piss me off, but for the most part I get the intent. But this…this is just in a different league, even for the Post.

    I haven’t heard about the chimp shooting story, and I’m sure there are many others who haven’t. That’s why I couldn’t give a shit what the “intent” was behind this cartoon. The implications of it are real no matter what the intent. Racism is racism even if it doesn’t mean to be. I am just too disgusted for words right now.

  9. frau sally benz
    frau sally benz February 18, 2009 at 1:27 pm |

    but I don’t think there was necessarily any racist intent.

    Now let me just start by saying that I’m the QUEEN of “this was not intended to be racist.” Seriously, it’s the reason I stopped commenting on racism/sexism posts on big blogs b/c nobody agreed with me lol

    But in this case, the intent really does not even matter. Because even if they claim ignorance to the fact that the whole black=(insert species of primate here) thing, this is still racist. Somebody who saw this at some point of time must have realized that there is something a bit off about representing Obama as a chimp.

    And even with the recent chimp stories, there are plenty of other things to draw on that would stand in for Obama in this case. I get that they don’t actually want to shoot at our president in the cartoon (even though that’s clearly what they’re doing anyway), but a chimp?? Really??

  10. FBM
    FBM February 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm |

    Omigod, prepare to be shocked!

    The New York Post is standing behind its cartoon.

    Someone pass me the smelling salts.

    Civil rights activist Al Sharpton called the cartoon “troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.”

    But Sharpton said the Post should clarify the point it was trying to make with the cartoon, which was playing off Monday’s rampage by a pet chimpanzee in Stamford, Conn., that left a woman severely mauled. Police ended up killing the chimp.

    In a statement, 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. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.”

  11. Chris
    Chris February 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm |

    Like FBM said, most people will make the Obama connection as soon as they see it. That’s the connection I made immediately. A political cartoon should hold up without having to read the justification for it. A joke shouldn’t have to be explained. And this is coming from someone who thought the infamous “terrorist” Obamas cartoon was actually sort of funny.

  12. frau sally benz
    frau sally benz February 18, 2009 at 1:29 pm |

    And I’d like to say for the record I freaking hate the Post. If I ever had reason to stand behind it in the past, it’s all gone now.

  13. Sylvia/M
    Sylvia/M February 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm |

    Considering the media has touted the stimulus effort as “Obama’s Stimulus Plan” fairly often, I think the argument that the chimp isn’t supposed to stand-in for Obama is disingenuous. Especially with the loaded message of how police shoot black men, and how black people are perceived as monkeys/gorillas/primates.

    It takes a hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance to pretend that read isn’t there or that it is a stretch considering the subjects explored.

  14. Chris
    Chris February 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm |

    “In a statement, 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. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.” ”

    Good God, he didn’t even give the obligatory “I’m sorry if anyone was offended, it was not our intent!” That’s literally the LEAST you can do in this situation, and he managed to do even less! What a fucking asswipe!

  15. Maritzia
    Maritzia February 18, 2009 at 1:32 pm |

    Good Goddess alive. Don’t those people at the Washington Post have any sense at all? Hell, I looked at that cartoon and almost fainted I was so horrified. I hadn’t read the story about the chimp either, but even after hearing that, I find the cartoon horrifying. Being from the South, I tend to be especially sensitive about white cops shooting black people.

    And, yes, while most people know Obama didn’t directly write the stimulus bill, they know he had huge input into what went into it. Most people look at it as Obama’s bill, and most of the right wing pundits I’ve been forced to read talk about it the same way. I don’t think many people will have a problem seeing this as a dog whistle about killing Obama.

  16. Lance Hunter
    Lance Hunter February 18, 2009 at 1:32 pm |

    Wow, damn. That’s easily the most tone-deaf thing I’ve seen all day. It might have worked as a piece of stand up (“Hey, did you hear about the pet chimp that had to be shot by the police? Washington is now scrambling to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill!”), but it doesn’t translate visually at all.

    I’d chalk this one up to ignorance rather than malice. That doesn’t make it much better, though.

  17. Lauren O
    Lauren O February 18, 2009 at 1:38 pm |

    I hadn’t heard about whatever chimp had to be shot, and I was just shocked by this. Now I see it probably wasn’t intended to be racist but certainly comes across that way because of inescapable historical facts.

    I wonder if the Post deliberately chose this cartoon because few people would know about the chimp-shooting and would jump to the obvious conclusion that it was Obama being shot, but it would be technically defensible.

  18. SarahMC
    SarahMC February 18, 2009 at 1:38 pm |

    I can’t believe people actually buy the claim that this cartoon has anything to do with the recent chimp-attack story. The cartoonist just decided to vaguely reference another, unrelated, news item in a cartoon about the stimulus bill? Give me a break.
    The racists can’t hold it in any more; that’s all there is to it.

  19. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe February 18, 2009 at 1:39 pm |

    Here’s a simple rule for people who have to decide on whether cartoons like this get to run:

    Comparing people of color, especially blacks, to animals, especially monkeys, apes, etc., is offensive, no matter what your intent is.

    Is that so hard?

  20. lauredhel
    lauredhel February 18, 2009 at 1:46 pm |

    Heck, I’m in Australia, and I immediately recognised this as an anti-Obama cartoon.

    For those who say “But he didn’t write the stimulus bill!”, the same cartoonist drew this cartoon eleven days ago, clearly drawing on and reinforcing the public perception of Obama as its architect.

  21. Emily
    Emily February 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm |

    Agreed with FTM.

    Even if we give the New York Post the benefit of the doubt (and, really, this is the New York Post, which has never said a racist or sexist or homophobic or transphobic thing in its long, glorious history as a progressive publication that upholds human rights) the fact of the matter is: the chimp, even if it is not *explicitly* supposed to represent Obama, is supposed to represent the US government in some fashion, right? That’s the whole point of the cartoon. And guess who represents the US government? The president. Whatever the chimp is supposed to represent, even if the cartoonist didn’t specifically have Obama in mind, can’t be too far from Obama. And that’s if I give them them the biggest benefit of the doubt I possibly can.

    Now, add to that the history of Black people being compared to primates of all types (and why so nitpicky about whether Cara calls it a chimp or a monkey? I mean, other than to nitpick for nitpick’s sake?), the long and still very current history of Black people being unjustly shot and killed by police, and the publication that ran it, and yes, I think it would be safe to call this a racist cartoon. Did the cartoonist or the paper consciously think, “Oh, I’ll make/run this racist cartoon?” Probably not, because most people don’t like to think of themselves as racist even while they’re doing racist things. (Also, hint: if POC call something racist, they’re probably right, since they’re the ones who actually have to deal with racism.)

    My question is: why are (I’m assuming all white) people so eager to come in and defend this thing? Why do people feel they have to take it upon themselves to defend a random cartoon from the charge of racism? I think it’s pretty insensitive to insist that people must just not get it, must not have a sense of humor, must be reading too much into things, when POC are still being killed by cops. (It hasn’t even been two months since Oscar Grant was murdered.) Why are people asking us to give a notoriously hateful publication the benefit of the doubt, but won’t even pause to listen to the very real concerns of POC?

  22. MikeF
    MikeF February 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm |

    And even with the recent chimp stories, there are plenty of other things to draw on that would stand in for Obama in this case.

    Frau, I agree that if the chimp is supposed to be Obama then it’s clearly racist. I just don’t think the chimp is supposed to be anyone; it’s just a riff on the monkeys-on-typewriters meme and the recent shooting and the 1400-page stimulus. I read the cartoon before the post and those are the things that popped into my head – definitely nothing about Obama. Besides, shouldn’t a chimp in a political setting be a stand-in for Bush?

  23. Lance Hunter
    Lance Hunter February 18, 2009 at 1:51 pm |

    @SarahMC – I think it is perfectly reasonable to say that this cartoon was about the chimp attack story as well as the stimulus bill. In fact, trying to read it as a purely racist attack on Obama without knowledge of the chimp story just makes the whole thing nonsensical (if it were an angry racist attack on Obama, there are much clearer ways the artist could have communicated their point).

    The Post editors are being assholes in their reply to justified anger about this piece running, but I don’t think anything will be accomplished by painting the artist as an angry racist.

  24. FBM
    FBM February 18, 2009 at 1:51 pm |

    Huffington Post: Stimulus author compared to dead primate

    New York Times: Racism concerns raised

    Apparently the phone rang off the hook at the Post this morning.

    (excerpt)

    Speaking at a conference of the New York Academy of Medicine on Wednesday morning, Mr. Paterson said that while he had not seen the cartoon, he believed that The Post should explain it. Given the possibility that some people could conclude the cartoon had a racial subtext, Mr. Paterson said the newspaper needed to clarify its meaning.

    “It would be very important for The New York Post to explain what the cartoon was intended to portray,” Mr. Paterson said in response to a question about whether the cartoon’s depiction of a monkey was racist, as Mr. Sharpton has suggested. “Obviously those types of associations have been made. They do feed a kind of negative and stereotypical way that people think. But I think if it’s enough that people are raising this issue, I hope they would clarify.”

    A newsroom employee at The Post, who spoke on condition of anonymity because employees were not permitted to comment on the matter, said its newsroom received many calls of complaints on Wednesday morning after the publication of the cartoon. “Every line was lit up for several hours,” the employee said. “The phones on the city desk have never rung like that before.” Many Post staff members were dismayed by the cartoon, the employee added.

  25. Aura Kitten
    Aura Kitten February 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm |

    Wow.
    Not a lot offends or shocks me, but this left me speechless. =o.O=

  26. FBM
    FBM February 18, 2009 at 2:01 pm |

    Homophobic cartoons by same cartoonist.

  27. 10G
    10G February 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm |

    Jesus….nice response, POST. Easy for a bunch of pompous, entitled WHITE guys to say. This is even worse than those goddamned “Obama bucks” that that conservative women’s group created and eventually were leaked to the press back in late October/early November. Of course, the immediate response to the allegations (which were spot on, in my book) of racism were completely denied. Yeah, right, and all of us fell off the apple truck all at the same time (rolls eyes).

  28. OMG ~~~ Barack officially portrayed as ~ a shot chimp. By the New York Post. - Hippymom - An Evolution of Female Community

    [...] ~~~ Barack officially portrayed as ~ a shot chimp. By the New York Post. Via Feministe: Feministe Whoa. [...]

  29. Julian Sanchez
    Julian Sanchez February 18, 2009 at 2:09 pm |

    So, as I understand the theory being advanced in some of the comments here, cartoonists and editors for major mainstream newspapers really *want* to make obscene racist jokes about the president being shot dead, but cleverly frame them give themselves cover when this prompts mass outrage? I guess that’s one theory. A more parsimonious one is: It didn’t occur to them how some people would read this (I doubt it would have occurred to me to interpret it that way unprompted), and they really ought to be more careful about that sort of thing in the future. If you turn the outrage up to 11 for dumb oversights, you don’t leave yourself anywhere to go rhetorically when confronted with the truly vile.

  30. CJ
    CJ February 18, 2009 at 2:13 pm |

    As a Connecticut resident the shooting of an out of control chimp was all over our news yesterday and I suspect that the incident was the inspiration for this. I don’t know whether or not the comic is directed specifically at President Obama, but if it is, it is certainly repugnant.

    That being said- I know a lot of people that use the term “monkey” in regards to anyone (regardless of race) churning out documentation of any kind. A throw back to the quote “Give ten thousand monkeys ten thousand years and one of them will produce the works of Shakespeare”.

    Just my 2 pennies…

  31. Maritzia
    Maritzia February 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm |

    The point of a dogwhistle is to give plausible deniability but to say exactly what you want at a targeted group of people. With this cartoon, the Post can say, “Oh, no, we don’t think it was intended to represent President Obama at all. We would never allow such a thing in print. We’re so sorry people are misinterpreting it”. While at the same time, everyone in their target category (read white racist republicans) all know exactly what the artist was trying to portray there.

    Yes, I really do think this artist knew what he was protraying, especially after seeing the previous cartoon lauredhel linked above.

    If the Post is getting so many calls from people seeing the same thing we do, do you seriously think these thoughts didn’t cross the minds of the editors who approved it? Their thought were more likely that it was controversial enough to draw attention to the paper but not so blatant as to not be deniable.

  32. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil February 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm |

    It didn’t occur to them how some people would read this (I doubt it would have occurred to me to interpret it that way unprompted), and they really ought to be more careful about that sort of thing in the future. If you turn the outrage up to 11 for dumb oversights, you don’t leave yourself anywhere to go rhetorically when confronted with the truly vile.

    The point of a dogwhistle is to give plausible deniability but to say exactly what you want at a targeted group of people.

    Julian, meet Maritzia.

  33. Emily
    Emily February 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm |

    Julian –

    “It didn’t occur to them how some people would read this (I doubt it would have occurred to me to interpret it that way unprompted), and they really ought to be more careful about that sort of thing in the future.”

    You know, it’s possible that the cartoonist didn’t explicitly make the connection between a chimp and Obama, but that doesn’t mean that our society’s racist perceptions didn’t play into it. Most people have unconscious racial bias of some kind, and just because they don’t consciously act on it doesn’t mean the racist things they do as a result aren’t racist.

    You’re completely taking the burden of racism off the cartoonist and editors and painting people who, for a few very good reasons saw racism in this cartoon, as mean, oversensitive readers who are difficult to please. You make it sound like the newspaper’s problem isn’t the racist cartoons they print, but the people who would dare point the racism out. Not buying it.

    “If you turn the outrage up to 11 for dumb oversights, you don’t leave yourself anywhere to go rhetorically when confronted with the truly vile.”

    I didn’t see where anyone turned the outrage up to 11. Did someone come in here shouting in all caps about how the NY Post should be wiped off the face of the earth? I thought it was just a bunch of people coming here to say that this cartoon was racist and therefore unacceptable and that they were offended. But you’re saying that people pointing out racism should tone down their arguments for their own good. Where have I heard that before?

  34. What is a Dogwhistle | Maritzia's Thoughts

    [...] not free of them.  Take, for example, this cartoon in today’s Washington Post (thanks to Feministe for her post on the [...]

  35. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe February 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm |

    …Mr. Paterson said that while he had not seen the cartoon…

    Um, was that supposed to be funny?

  36. Holly
    Holly February 18, 2009 at 3:19 pm |

    Either:

    a) the cartoonist was deliberately using a chimp as a represenation of Obama, as a “dogwhistle” which he assumed some sympathetic people would get and cackle over, but that could be played off as unintentional;

    or

    b) the cartoonist didn’t consciously think that way, but because like all of us, he has ingrained attitudes that he’s not fully aware of, he still put a shot-down chimp and “Obama’s” stimulus plan together in a way that’s not really coincidental;

    or

    c) the cartoonist had no intention, conscious or not, of making any kind of race-related statement here — he’s a saint who has no awful ingrained attitudes about race that he has to struggle against — but was just ignorant or absent-minded about the fact that tons of his readers would make this connection, since black people have been compared to apes forever, and the stimulus is heavily associated with our black president.

    Which of those three is the most likely?

    Are any of them really any “better” than the others?

    Don’t all of those scenarios still create a strong onus on SOME editor at the Post to do their job, provide editorial oversight about what their paper is putting out, understand what the broader social meaning is regardless of intention, and then clarify, apologize, and retract their mistake?

    If the Post is doing a half-ass job at the above, then which scenarios here are more likey?

  37. SarahMC
    SarahMC February 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm |

    Lance Hunter, I suppose you’re right that the cartoonist did have the CT chimp story in mind whilst creating this cartoon. BUT, Maritzia has hit the nail on the head: “The point of a dogwhistle is to give plausible deniability but to say exactly what you want at a targeted group of people.”
    If anything, I think the cartoonist is an opportunist who is using the chimp story as an excuse.

  38. Butterflywings
    Butterflywings February 18, 2009 at 3:28 pm |

    FFS.
    I’m a Brit, and like Lauredhel, I got that this was anti-Obama.
    This isn’t even subtle. It’s blatantly racist.

  39. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Privilege Illustrated

    [...] If you’re remembering that our president is African-American, you’re ahead of Sean Delonas: [...]

  40. herong
    herong February 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm |

    Holly has it exactly right. You can’t use (or refer to) a meme like ‘POC = monkey’ and expect people to ignore it. At best this was the negligent use of a widely accepted racial reference and at most this was the deliberate elicitation of a tired racist metaphor. How can anyone believe that the cartoonist randomly connected two wildly disparate news items without any thought to HOW he tied them together? It IS race, people. It usually is.

  41. Julian Sanchez
    Julian Sanchez February 18, 2009 at 4:44 pm |

    Sure, look, we’re all familiar with the concept of dogwhistle messaging; nobody’s claiming that doesn’t happen. But analogies between black men and monkeys are sufficiently universally agreed to be beyond the pale that it wouldn’t be my first explanation in this instance either. Tone-deafness seems rather more common, and therefore more likely, than the kind of unreconstructed self-conscious racism that you’d have to impute to a cartoonist who actually intended to make that kind of “joke.” And of course we all have our internalized racial biases or stereotypes to wrestle with; the question is whether you need to invoke those to explain how a cartoonist who wasn’t thinking about alternative readings might slap two news stories together to come up with this. That said, the other linked examples of this cartoonist’s work are pretty decisive evidence that the guy’s a bigoted POS, whether or not the most recent one is another data point on that line.

  42. Sylvia/M
    Sylvia/M February 18, 2009 at 5:20 pm |

    For reference: HuffPo just shared what the full page in the Post looked like.

    Please tell me you’ll stop justifying this shit. Please? I really don’t get the stupidity surrounding seeing something this evident.

  43. MomTFH
    MomTFH February 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm |

    That made me feel physically ill. How can people be so ignorant? And how can people defend it?

  44. corwin
    corwin February 18, 2009 at 9:44 pm |

    I thinki it’s unlikely that so many of you commenters will quit looking for racism ,or sexism in innocuous posts,but #46 takes it to the hilt.One wonders what something really disgusting would do to the author.On a 10 point scale,,what nauseates MOM more-a cartoon depicting a chimpanzee,or a partial birth abortion?I would enjoy a thoughtful answer.
    This self manufactured outrage reminds me of the uproar years ago when the DC comptroller used the word ‘niggardly’ in a memo and was pelted with outrage.(FOr a usage of the term,see,”You are non niggard,Eowyn,to send. Gondor,the fairest flower in your realm.”On a 10 point scale could some of the above let me know how ,well upset you are.(MOM-you first)

  45. ipens
    ipens February 18, 2009 at 10:01 pm |

    The unfortunate thing, Corwin (47), is that we won’t have to look for racism or sexism. I have a feeling it will just continue to present itself in its glorious indignity. (It may even do so with an abundance of unexplainable commas.)

  46. annaham
    annaham February 18, 2009 at 10:03 pm |

    Corwin, a cartoon depicting a partial-birth abortion would probably not be published. Your strawperson argument–that the outrage over this blatantly dog-whistling cartoon is “self-manufactured”– is not going to work here. It screams of the old “feminists look for stuff to get mad about” myth, which is simply not true. You are missing the point by suggesting otherwise; this kind of crap (as in, the cartoon and the dog whistle-y, “it wasn’t *meant* to be racist” defense) is accepted in our culture to such a degree that it is, as other commenters have said, the dogwhistle nature of this cartoon is quite obvious.

  47. Feminist Tweets! « This is What a Feminist Blogs Like

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  48. Kai
    Kai February 19, 2009 at 12:19 am |

    Actually I find the hedging white liberalism in this thread just as offensive as the all-out Nazi pro-lynching hate-speech of the cartoon.

    Yes I live in Connecticut and everybody here was talking about the chimp shooting yesterday. To draw a mental connection from that bizarre aberrant bleeds-and-leads incident, to the Obama-identified economic stimulus bill, is a testament to the profundity of racist cognitive indoctrination of white folks. For centuries, white folks have energetically, systematically, and continually planted seeds of racist hate deep in their own psyches by connecting people of color to animals and black folks to apes and monkeys, in order to grease the wheels of genocide, slavery, lynching, ethnic cleansing, and all forms of racial injustice and inequality. And it has worked. The white lens, upon laying eyes upon a person of color, immediately clouds up with a certain dehumanizing gut-level distaste, making it easier to treat another human being in a manner unbefitting human beings. The progressive intellect may rebel against this spinal reflex in a secondary impulse, but the primary and energetically dominant psychic mechanism is easy enough to observe if you’re on the receiving end.

    That’s what this cartoon is about. It lustily visualizes and manifests the gunning down of the US president using racist iconography yanked from recent tabloid fare. Full stop.

  49. Kristin
    Kristin February 19, 2009 at 3:10 am |

    “Actually I find the hedging white liberalism in this thread just as offensive as the all-out Nazi pro-lynching hate-speech of the cartoon.”

    Mhm, yes, exactly.

    Didn’t we already have this *exact* conversation over that Vanity Fair cover? Once again: It doesn’t matter what the cartoonist’s intent was, though it’s hard for me to understand how this could fall within the realm of plausible deniability. It’s *not* plausible that a political cartoonist wouldn’t know exactly what he was doing, but whatever… Who cares? Why are so many people interested in defending the good faith of this cartoonist and arguing that he might not have *intended* for it to be racist? Even if you were right, would that make it any better? Would it not *still* be racist?

    And, for the record (in response to some of the ignorant comments showing up on this thread), this is the New York Post, *not* the Washington Post. The latter is a “mainstream” newspaper, and the former is a far right one.

  50. Axiomatic
    Axiomatic February 19, 2009 at 5:18 am |

    Are we sure this isn’t from the Onion? Because it’s what I’d expect to see from Kelly.

  51. Roy
    Roy February 19, 2009 at 8:01 am |

    But analogies between black men and monkeys are sufficiently universally agreed to be beyond the pale that it wouldn’t be my first explanation in this instance either.

    It’s certainly possible that it wasn’t intended, although I don’t really think that matters much. But, I think such a claim might have more strength if:

    1. The author of the cartoon hadn’t already shown a willingness to engage in some pretty vile “beyond the pale” analogies in other cartoons–”Gay marriage! It’s just like fucking sheep!” is a pretty vile comparison, too.

    2. I couldn’t point out multiple instances of people making that exact same analogy. The King James photograph? The Atlanta bar selling Obama as Curious George shirts? The Obama Sock Monkey site?

    Let’s not kid ourselves: black man as ape is vile, but it’s nowhere near “universally agreed to be beyond the pale”.

  52. Ginjoint
    Ginjoint February 19, 2009 at 9:45 am |

    I’m not going to repeat when others (particularly Maritzia) have already said so well regarding the blatant, vicious racism of this cartoon, and the people who are trying to dismiss it. But I do want to add another angle – and here’s a *trigger warning* for violence – I heard part of the 911 call made about the chimp attack. It’s horrific. The 200-pound chimp ripped off the victim’s face and chewed off her hands. The victim is now fighting for her life. I don’t find that good fodder for “parody” at all. This cartoon managed to be vile on several levels.

  53. SweetSue
    SweetSue February 19, 2009 at 9:46 am |

    Does anyone care about the woman whose hands were torn off by the chimp?
    That’s at least part of what makes the cartoon offensive.

  54. Jack
    Jack February 19, 2009 at 10:41 am |

    Finally got to read through this post and the comments, and the attempts to explain this away as not racist or not intentionally racist just blew my mind. How can anyone knowing anything at all about the NY Post, the rest of Murdoch’s Evil Media Empire, and their horrid track record on anything having to do with any oppressed group of people attempt to give them the benefit of the doubt? And if you didn’t know about that history, people have pointed it out already in the comments, so now you know. So please, step off.

    Also, Ginjoint and SweetSue make good points – within the countless layers of fuckedupedness in this cartoon, an important one is that people went through a horrible, traumatizing, and severely injuring experience, and exploiting that for an opportunity to make a racist joke is disgusting.

    Finally, the NY Post’s response was despicable in many ways, among them the fact that they choose to focus solely on Sharpton’s criticism. Sharpton is an easy target because the Post and other media have already successfully made him into an opportunistic clown in the eyes of many people. Much harder to defend against the criticism of a helluva lot of people, including every person of color I know who has laid eyes on that piece of shit cartoon, than to just write it off as Sharpton being Sharpton.

  55. CTD
    CTD February 19, 2009 at 5:17 pm |

    Sharpton is an easy target because the Post and other media have already successfully made him into an opportunistic clown in the eyes of many people.

    No, the good reverend did that all by himself.

    I love all the posters who saw an ape and immediately thought “black dude.”

    But it’s the cartoonist who is a racist. Right…

  56. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays February 19, 2009 at 7:15 pm |

    Um, Julian?
    “If you turn the outrage up to 11 for dumb oversights, you don’t leave yourself anywhere to go rhetorically when confronted with the truly vile.”

    You’re expecting them to get more vile than this? Seriously?

    Also, as someone who actually works in journalism I would like to make the following point – editors are not stupid. Not this stupid, anyway. There’s no way in hell this was an oversight. It’s a dogwhistle, plain and simple.

  57. Chris
    Chris February 19, 2009 at 10:28 pm |

    “No, the good reverend did that all by himself.

    I love all the posters who saw an ape and immediately thought “black dude.”

    But it’s the cartoonist who is a racist. Right…”

    Read the caption, dude. It says, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill.” Obama is the person most credited for the stimulus bill, even if he didn’t actually “write” it. It’s not a stretch of the imagination AT ALL to think the dead monkey is supposed to be Obama. It wouldn’t be a stretch if it were a dead hamster.

  58. FBM
    FBM February 19, 2009 at 11:37 pm |

    I guess the New York Post said this but some of its employees are saying this.

  59. Thom
    Thom February 20, 2009 at 10:27 am |

    “I can’t believe people actually buy the claim that this cartoon has anything to do with the recent chimp-attack story. The cartoonist just decided to vaguely reference another, unrelated, news item in a cartoon about the stimulus bill? Give me a break.”

    Actually, it is pretty much standard operating procedure for political cartoonists to use an unrelated news event to make comment on a current political issue. So, in and of itself, such a practice is not that outrageous.

    But to put it simply, there is no excuse for the cartoon itself. Even if the initial conception did not strike the cartoonist as a problem, he should have been able to step back and see a problem. If not him, his editor should have said “Holy shit. We can’t print this guys.” I can’t buy the notion that no one saw this before going to print and did not bat an eyelash. They had to know it would be controversial and went ahead with it to make a splash. So, as people have pointed out, intent and context ends up being pretty meaningless.

  60. Natalia
    Natalia February 20, 2009 at 10:27 am |

    Agreed with Kristin – intent doesn’t matter. Even if you didn’t “intend” to stand on somebody’s neck, you still have to move your damn foot and apologize.

  61. William
    William February 20, 2009 at 10:42 am |

    One cartoon like this, however seemingly obvious, might be a mistake. Two begins to form a pattern. Laurel at comment #22 posted another cartoon by the same cartoonist which she identified as “clearly drawing on and reinforcing the public perception of Obama as [the stimulus bill's] architect.” Maybe not a lot of people clicked through, but the image is Obama surrounded by a bunch of donkeys, flies, and mounds of shit with a reporter talking about a stink coming from Washington. Again, theres lots of places you can go from that, lots of images and connections. I can think of half a dozen decent defenses of the joke (just as I could with the chimp cartoon), but theres still a major stereotype one could easily and immediately draw from the cartoon: black people stink.

  62. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm |

    Frau, I agree that if the chimp is supposed to be Obama then it’s clearly racist. I just don’t think the chimp is supposed to be anyone; it’s just a riff on the monkeys-on-typewriters meme and the recent shooting and the 1400-page stimulus. I read the cartoon before the post and those are the things that popped into my head – definitely nothing about Obama. Besides, shouldn’t a chimp in a political setting be a stand-in for Bush?

    Oh, dear, MikeF. Yeah i guess because you are so Rational and Discompassionate (in other words, white, after all, we white folks can *afford* to be “Rational and Discompassionate”), *you* personally don’t see any racism in the cartoon. People of color are saying that the cartoon is racist, but you don’t need to listen to them, for you just *know* the cartoon isn’t. Even though you’ve never once been on the receiving end of racism.

    i dunno. my being white, when a PoC says that something is racist, i figure my privilege is blinding me to it, so i tend to shut up and listen.

  63. Michael Price
    Michael Price February 27, 2009 at 2:02 am |

    Gee I notice for all your outrage at “racism” you didn’t choose to include my comment that GallingGalla was being explictedly racist in her comments. Guess some belief in inequality is more equal than others.

  64. Michael Price
    Michael Price March 2, 2009 at 5:39 am |

    The claim of racism depends on Obama, a presidential candidate having written the bill, something that hasn’t happened in recent memory. What is the chances he ever READ the bill, let alone wrote it. Seriously some people should check their facts before claiming others are being thoughtless.

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