The Sean Delonas cartoon in the NY Post this week is garnering a LOT of attention, which was probably the point all along:
The editors at the Post stand behind it. They say it’s clearly a parody of the crazed domesticated chimpanzee, Travis, who was shot to death by police a few days ago. Mix that story with the big, unruly, misunderstood stimulus bill that was just passed in the jungles of Washington, DC, and there you have it: a perfectly relevant political cartoon.
Some people are outraged because beyond all the nuance, the responsibility for the stimulus package is on President Obama’s back. Travis the Chimp didn’t flex his political muscles to get the bill through a partisan Congress, the president did.
The president who happens to be black. It’s no secret that African-Americans have been likened to monkeys, gorillas, chimps, and apes by some white people (both cops in the cartoon are white) for centuries.
Even if the artist didn’t mean to represent Obama as a chimp, someone in the editorial chain surely made the connection. They thought about the furor it could stir up considering the racial baggage we as a nation continue to carry. All that notwithstanding, they still ran it for the attention.
We do have to consider the source. Even though The New York Post is one of the city’s most popular newspapers, it is a tabloid at heart, and not just because of the way it folds. This is the same news source that calls Alex Rodriguez “A-Roid,” Hezbollah militants “Hez-bozos,” and Michael Jackson “Jacko.” They do it for the attention.
It reminds me of the two Muslim youth who were overheard talking about bombs on a plane. They didn’t have bombs–weren’t part of any plot. They knew they fit a certain profile, knew the current climate, and were just yapping to get attention. But once they got put off the plane, they tried to act like victims.
If all 6’3″, 200lbs of chocolate me walked into Tifanny’s in a hoody and started yelling about how it would really be a shame if one of these nice ladies got robbed on the way out, I’d probably be detained. Technically that’s wrong of them, because I am not a crook. Still….
Similarly, the Post knows its audience and knows our history. They could predict how Al Sharpton and others might respond to this cartoon, and they put it out there anyway. They did it for the attention. Good or bad, they deserve what they get.
I know this will blow over in a few days as new news gets reported. As far as I can see, the Post is well within their First Amendment rights here. Is there something more that needs to be done?