|Illustration: Sean Delonas/New York Post|
In today’s New York Post, a tabloid rag owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the above-pictured cartoon ran. Naturally, this sparked allegations of racist intent (Obama as the chimp) and condemnation by Al Sharpton, who told the AP the image is “troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.”
Sean Delonas’s cartoon is a reference to Travis the chimpanzee, a former television commercial star that recently attacked his owner’s friend in Connecticut. The chimp, hopped up on Xanax, mauled the face and hands of Charla Nash, 55, as his owner (Sandra Herold, 70) stabbed him with a butcher knife and hit him with a shovel. When police arrived on the scene, Travis opened an officer’s squad car door before being shot multiple times and subsequently retreating to his place of eventual death.
Sharpton does have the unfortunate habit of playing the race card to a fault, but he seems to be onto something here. Except that the stimulus bill was written by Congress, not Obama, and political cartoons make connections between current events to make a point on a daily basis. So is Delonas simply stating (rather obtusely, perhaps) that Congress lacks the intellectual capacity to write a good stimulus bill? Or are his intentions more sinister, trying to get his readers to draw an inference between Obama’s support for the bill’s passage and a dead ape? I suspect the former.
But either way, this does seem to be more ambiguous than the contrived controversy over the satirical New Yorker cover depicting Obama as an traitorous Muslim, if only because the Post probably ought to have realized that this would be perceived as insensitive. Then again, the Post is no stranger to controversy.