Update to Problematic Cartoon: NY Post Apologizes...Sort Of

On Wednesday, February 18, 2009, the New York Post was distributed as normal; the content web-available. Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to jump out of me, except one particular cartoon.

Before I read any commentary or news, my face contorted in disbelief at the image of a monkey being gunned down with the words, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

This has prompted outcry and two days of protest, led by Al Sharpton, as "some have interpreted as comparing President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police."

The Post has issued an apology to those offended by the drawing and insists it meant only to mock the federal system and the stimulus bill to jump start our ailing economy.  The apology though, is not for those who are simply looking for revenge, dubbed "opportunists," to whom, according to the apologizing editorial, "no apology is due."

Although interpretations can vary from beholder to beholder, this seemed to just make my skin crawl just by a brief glance at it.  I read it as comparing our newly minted President, a multi-cultured man who is half African-American, to a dead monkey.  Did anyone - from the cartoonist, Sean Delonas to the Editor-in-Chief Col Allan - understand the history of racial stereotypes and hate thrown to the Black community in the image of a monkey?

But Allan insists and unleashes, "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."

I'm pretty weary of Al Sharpton myself, but even I have difficulty swallowing the so-called apology when its last line reads:

"Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon..."

Where is the accountability?  Responsibility?  Sharpton and "opportunists" aren't the only ones who see this as vile, racist, and unacceptable.

Once again, the politics of the situation have overshadowed the issue: the Post ran what many thought was a racist cartoon.


Next time you apologize, Post, give it some thought.  


by Lisa Factora-Borchers
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3 Comments Have Been Posted


Why is humor the place we go to express our righteous indignation? And why is race the sacred cow that can not be touched? Political cartoons have been harsh, violent, sexist, agist have made light of developmental disabilities (former President Bush anyone?) compared our leaders to all kinds of inanimate objects and done so with poor taste on many occasions. To suddenly expect an apology from a newspaper over THAT issue? It's inconsistent. Either everything is fodder for humor or nothing is.

Just not funny.

Argument heard, but personally, I'm going to hold my standards for funny higher. The cartoon was not funny because it is overly violent and the connection between the stimulus package and the chimp in Conneticut is something that exists in the cartoonist's mind - not in society. The stimulus bill is something in the news that the artist doesn't like, the chimp got shot. The artist put the image of the dead chimp together with the stimulus bill to show his disgust for it. There is nothing clever about it. It's insulting to the president, the dead chimp, it's caretaker, the police who dealt with the situation and the woman who was attacked.
Sean Delones has used his cartoons in the past as a vehicle for his seemingly racist and sexist beliefs. The fact that his message is delivered through a cartoon does not make them funny, it makes him a doucebag. Delones is also a crappy satirist if he was unaware of the connection that could be made between monkeys and African Americans. The fact that Al Sharpton has pointed that out doesn't make him an opportunist, it makes Col Allen a bad editor. In light of the half-assed apologies that have been made by the post, the cartoon looks a lot more like racist propaganda and celebration of animal cruelty than political satire.

So portraying a black man as

So portraying a black man as an animal-- something that has its basis in racist depictions of a "dangerous, animalistic" black man is okay because similar degradation been done to others in the past? That's pretty crap logic. The all-or-nothing stance you take needs to be complicated. People should be outraged about this and other sexist, ageist, etc. depictions of people. Sorry, but hiding bigotry behind humor isn't really acceptable anymore. The post simply shouldn't have forgotten about the past, (and present apparently) dehumanization of Blacks.

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