Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a
chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.
It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to
find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.
But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President
Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was
not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.
However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had
differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an
opportunity for payback. To them, no apology is due.
Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.
Some say this is not a racist portrayal, but merely a satirization- a parody of the tragic incident,where a chimpanzee went berserk, mauling the owner's friend to the point of inflicting life-altering injuries. Police had to be called who shot and killed the primate. They say the satirized chimp represents the Democratic Congress who pushed the Stimulus bill through.
At first I saw the parallels and what the cartoonist saw, but as I thought about it - I find myself asking why the cartoonist and editors of the Post could not see that this was a bad joke that could result in the community taking offense to the piece. Sometimes you tell a joke that is not funny. The history of racism and prejudice in America is rife with the imagery of chimps, monkeys, baboons and gorillas being used to describe black people. The image of the chimp is offensive. Not to mention that the animal is being killed...Are you saying President Barack should be killed? President Obama deserves much more respect than this. He is due the same decorum and elevation that every other American President has received.
I watched Anderson Cooper 360 the other night and he had a panel consisting of David Gergen, Ron Christie and Roland Martin. I was very surprised even as David Gergen saw the racist imagery as did Roland Martin. Ron Christie (in his words "a proud black man"), could not. He cautioned against seeing racism behind everything and while I feel him on that point, I agree with Gergen and Martin, finding it hard to believe that he could not, no strike that, would not see the problem with the cartoon. I think he is being untruthful to himself, proud black man that he is... click here to see the conversation...
I think the lesson to be learned from this is that the imagery of racism past still exists. I agree with Roland Martin when he says "I'm going to call it out every time I see it"...
This cartoon was intended as a joke. It was a bad joke. Not funny. A dud. New York Post, your comedy bombed... But in the process you've reminded us that the struggle continues and the more things change, the more they stay the same....